Renowned BBC Radio presenter Jeremy Vine has come under fire for his comments over a bank’s initial refusal to accept a cheque written in Welsh by Cardigan Town Council.
In a tweet subsequently deleted, BBC Radio 2 host Mr Vine appeared to suggest that Welsh was on par with a foreign language in the UK.
His official Twitter feed responded to an online message suggesting that Welsh people speaking Welsh in Wales was equivalent to French people speaking French in France by asking: “Is France in the UK?”
Mr Vine was reacting to the news that Cardigan Town Council had – not for the first time - paid a contractor by cheque but when he presented it to a branch of Lloyds Bank in England, it was refused.
In a letter to the council the contractor said: “Earlier today we received a cheque from Cardigan Town Council and, similar to last time, the area where you write the amount is written in Welsh.
“I previously attempted to pay your cheque into our local Lloyds branch and it was refused.
“Today, I attempted to take alternative action and contacted the business section of the bank before it was paid in and again I was informed that the cheque would be returned back to me.
“I even tried to contact Lloyds Bank, Cardigan, to speak with them and although I was guaranteed that a call would be returned in three hours, they have still not been in touch.”
Although the cheque was eventually cashed, the bank’s reaction drew a withering response from town clerk Wynford Jones.
“I think the time has come for the staff at your Lloyds Branch to brush up on their knowledge that the Welsh language is a recognised official language and should never be treated with contempt as an inferior, unrecognised, unofficial language as your message eludes,” he told the contractor.
“It would be rather interesting to know if, on receiving their outrageous bonuses written in Welsh, would the reaction of bank executives be similarly condescending.”
The issue subsequently sparked a heated online debate about the Welsh language on Mr Vine’s Radio 2 phone-in.
The presenter interviewed a man from Pontypridd who said that Welsh speakers "think they’re better than anybody else".
But responding to Mr Vine’s tweet, listener Sian Harries said: “God knows what will happen to our language once Brexit happens.
“The attitude towards speaking a minority language in the UK is disgraceful already.”
A Lloyds Bank spokesman said: “We do accept cheques written in Gaelic and Welsh subject to meeting a small number of criteria in place to reduce the risk of fraud and money laundering.
“If a Welsh-language customer needs help in a Lloyds Bank branch that has no Welsh-language speakers, customers may be referred to the dedicated Welsh-language telephony line or the local directors’ office to find a Welsh-language speaking colleague who may be able to assist.”