Fourth appearance in court for language campaigner Toni Schiavone

The language campaigner Toni Schiavone will appear in court in Aberystwyth for the fourth time on Monday, 13 May over his refusal to pay an English-only parking charge notice, after the parking company One Parking Solution won an appeal to reintroduce the case in January.

Toni Schiavone outside the courthouse in Aberystwyth

This is despite the judge, Gareth Humphreys, warning that the company should carefully consider the value of continuing with a case that has already been “long, beyond unfortunate” and has cost the parking company over £10,000 in legal fees to date.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith have called on the court to rule that English-only parking charge notices are insufficient as ruled by the judge Mervyn Jones-Evans in a recent case in Caernarfon, and on the Welsh Government to legislate to ensure the rights of Welsh speakers in the private sector are respected.

Toni Schiavone received the English-only notice for not paying for parking in a car park in Llangrannog in September 2020.

The original case was thrown out of court in May 2022 because a representative from the parking company was not present, and the second case in August 2023 was also thrown out because the case was presented late and under incorrect rules.

On 26 January this year, One Parking Solution won an appeal enabling them to continue prosecuting Mr Schiavone, after the judge ruled that there were no grounds to throw the first two cases out of court.

Speaking at the hearing in January, Toni Schiavone said he had received a letter with costs of £10,156.70 a the day before from One Parking Solution, and that the company had acted “disrespectfully, unreasonably and vindictively.” According to research by Cymdeithas yr Iaith, translating the notice into Welsh would have cost only £60.

Siân Howys, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Welsh Language Rights Group said:

“It is disappointing that One Parking Solution have decided to resubmit this case, but the real reason Toni must appear in court yet again is because the rights of people who live in Wales to use the Welsh language are not ensured in statute. We have seen other cases of this recently as HSBC and the energy company OVO have weakened or even abolished their Welsh-medium services, without any serious response from our Government.

“We call on our members and supporters to be present on 13 May to support Toni, and to demand that the right to use the Welsh language in all aspects of life is respected through legislation.”

On 30 January, the Welsh Government voted against Heledd Fychan MS’s motion on behalf of Plaid Cymru in the Senedd to set Welsh Language Standards on a statutory basis for institutions in the private sector, such as banks, supermarkets and private car parks.

During the debate, Siân Gwenllian MS referred to Toni Schiavone’s case as an example of the need to legislate to ensure the rights of Welsh speakers. Discussing the parking company, she said:

“Once again, the response is arrogant and insulting.

“Why must Welsh speakers continue to campaign and demand services through the medium of Welsh?

“It is high time that the basic rights of Welsh speakers were respected through statute, and that in all aspects of life.”


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