A COURT has ruled against a former teacher of the Welsh language at schools in Conwy and Rhyl who refused to pay a parking fine he received because it was written in English.

Toni Schiavone, who taught at Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy and at Rhyl High School, had been fined £70 after he parked at a public car park in Llangrannog, Ceredigion in September 2020.

This car park is managed by One Parking Solution, but Mr Schiavone, a Welsh language campaigner, did not pay the fine on the basis that it was issued in Wales, but written in English.

Last August, the case was thrown out of court, as the parking company had delayed too much before launching an appeal and presented the case under incorrect rules.


Former Rhyl teacher wins case after not paying English parking fine

But in January, One Parking Solution won an appeal to continue to prosecute Mr Schiavone, after a judge ruled that there were no grounds to throw out the first two cases of the court.

On Monday (May 13), magistrates in Aberystwyth ruled against Mr Schiavone, and allowed One Parking Solution to claim costs.

Even so, Mr Schiavone said he will continue to refuse to pay until he receives a copy of the warning from the parking company in Welsh.

Rhyl Journal: Cymdeithas yr Iaith supporters outside courtCymdeithas yr Iaith supporters outside court (Image: Cymdeithas yr Iaith)

According to judge Lowri Williams, there was no legal basis to compel the company to provide a Welsh language service.

Language campaigners insist that this shows that there is a "serious flaw" in the legislation that protects the rights of Welsh speakers.

Mr Schiavone refused to pay the fine as he did not receive a warning notice in Welsh or bilingually.

He sent two letters to One Parking Solution, as well as telephoning the company.

After Monday’s hearing, he said: "Welsh is an official and equal language in Wales and we as Welsh speakers have rights according to the law, and in principle, that should be respected.

“The application for a Parking Charge Notice in Welsh or bilingually is reasonable and practical. It would have cost around £60 to translate.

"This case could have been resolved very easily and very quickly by providing a Parking Charge Notice in Welsh or bilingually.

“Does not doing so show prejudice against the Welsh language? In my opinion, it is."

Mr Schiavone said the claimant had sent him letters claiming £10,156.70 in legal costs a day before the January hearing, as well as another letter with additional costs of more than £4,000 two days before Monday’s case.

The judge said that Toni had behaved "honestly” and in a “principled" manner, and had shown "unwavering dedication to the Welsh language and the cause for the language”.

But she noted during her judgment that there is nothing in the relevant legislation to compel the parking company to provide a Welsh language service.

She ordered that Mr Schiavone pay the £100 charge, as well as £70 for administrative costs, £11.90 interest, and £85 for the court fee, within 21 days.

After explaining her judgment and order, Mr Schiavone said: "I understand, but I refuse to pay."

Following the hearing, Siân Howys, chair of the Welsh language rights group Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said: "Today's judgment shows - despite Welsh Government's claim - that the Welsh language does not have equal status in Wales.

“The judge has done her job thoroughly and found that there is nothing in the legislation that demands that Toni's right to use his own language in his own country is respected.

"What is clear then is that the Welsh Government needs to correct the serious deficiency in the legislation in order to ensure that the people of Wales can use the Welsh language in all aspects of their lives."