Big stink lifts as 'Y Farteg' name change plan dropped

12:29pm Wednesday 8th January 2014

CONTROVERSIAL plans to re-name Varteg ‘Y Farteg’, branded a "huge waste of money and time" by one resident have been scrapped.

Plans to give the area its name in Welsh rather than English caused a bit of a stink when they were first suggested, but after a consultation which gave people in the area the chance to have their say, the idea is off the table.

Residents also handed in a signature petition signed by more than 120 people calling for the idea to be scrapped.

Richie Rowlinson, landlord of The Crown Hotel in Varteg, branded it a "stupid idea" and welcomed the news that Varteg will keep its current name.

THE decision to drop plans for re-naming Varteg ‘Y Farteg’ has received a mixed response from people in the area.

The row is over after 64 per cent of respondents to an online consultation said they “disagreed” with the proposal to adopt the Welsh version of the place name.

A residents’ petition was also handed in to Torfaen council ahead of Christmas with more than 120 people saying it should be dropped.

Torfaen councillor Richard Clark, the local authority cabinet member for health, social care, wellbeing and equalities, confirmed the issue had been decided.

“The people have spoken and I have listened to them,” he said “the language commissioner has been told that we will not be accepting the name with an F. “As far as Torfaen is concerned it will be staying as it is.”

According to the council website, 32 per cent voted for Y Farteg to be used.

A mere five per cent wanted Y Farteg, it said.

Bleanavon historian John Harris called it a “huge waste of money and time”.

“It is something the local authority could have done without at a time when they are desperately trying to save money,” he said

Richie Rowlinson, landlord of The Crown Hotel in Varteg who previously called it a ‘stupid idea’, said: “The people have made their opinion quite clear.

“It would have opened the whole area up to ridicule.”

Some locals took to social media sites to voice disappointment in the outcome however.

Facebook user Simon Jenkins said: “Shame that a village with a Welsh school keeps an English version of the Welsh name.”

Bronwen Mair Davies added: “Very short sighted indeed.”

But Abersychan ward councillor Giles Davies, who presented the petition on behalf of residents, said he felt common sense had prevailed.

Varteg resident Ray Williams added: “Hopefully that will be the back of it.”

The consultation was re-launched after an initial proposal earlier this year, in which it was suggested the Welsh place name should be adopted as there is no ‘V’ in the Welsh alphabet.

It sparked widespread humour and concern at the time, and such was the stink that news outlets as far away as Canada and Minnesota in America picked up on it.

But some locals said they feared becoming the butt of jokes if the change was approved, saying that the ancient name Varteg accurately reflected the history of the locality.

Janet Jones at Foy Williams estate agents in Blaenavon said she did not feel the change would represent money well spent in times of biting austerity across the borough, despite supporting bilingualism.

Blaenavon mayor councillor Gareth Davies said he did not feel it would greatly impact the day to day life of the residents.

In response to the consultation results a spokesman for the Welsh Language Commissioner said: “The commissioner has no jurisdiction in the matter, but was asked for advice and information which was supplied.”

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