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Council blasts planned signage for new Iceland store because of ‘lack of Welsh’

08 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
Iceland’s HQ in Deeside

A council has objected to planned signage at the new Iceland store because of a lack of Welsh.

Aberystwyth Town Council said the signage at the store at Ystwyth Retail Park, “should be bilingual with Welsh first”.

The company has taken over the former Peacocks and Poundworld stores at the retail park, with the new store set to open on 11 May.

Members of the town council lodged an objection after the company applied to Ceredigion council for associated work to open the store as well as new signage, as the signs on the building and retail park are only in English as ‘Iceland’. The town council said it “objects to monolingual signage”

Back in February Iceland, which is headquartered in Deeside, sacked its Director of Corporate Affairs, Keith Hann, after he made derogatory comments about the Welsh language, which included calling it “gibberish”.

A spokesperson for the company apologised for the “offence caused” by Hann’s remarks, and added that they do not “reflect” its values.

Town mayor Cllr Charlie Kingsbury said: “We should make the point that we expect all signage to be bilingual.”

Cllr Mark Strong said: “We should be firmly stating that Welsh is equal in use to English in this area, and anything that communicates with the public should be bilingual.

“It needs to be strongly, clearly and firmly made to them that we expect all signage that is visible from the outside to be bilingual.”

Cllr Talat Chaudhrisaid: “We need to make the point it’s good for their business, because its more inclusive, and were happy to review their signs. We can offer our expertise.”

‘Support’ 

Councillors said they would support the application for signage, and that they would “strongly, clearly and firmly” express the need for bilingual signage and visual communication.

In its objection to Ceredigion planners, Aberystwyth Town Council said: “All visual communication should be bilingual with Welsh first. The Town Council would be happy to provide support to help Iceland achieve this because it is appreciated by the local community and is therefore good for business. Signage should not be internally illuminated.”

Following the sacking of Keith Hann, language campaigners Cymdeithas yr Iaith called on Iceland to show “real commitment to the language”.

The group has been campaigning for bilingual signage at Iceland stores.

David Williams of Cymdeithas yr Iaith said: “Keith Hann’s comments are insulting and unfortunate, but sacking someone doesn’t make up for the fact that Iceland’s Welsh provision for customers is currently very poor.

“What about making a real commitment to the language – how about providing services fully in Welsh in the near future?”.

Back in n 2018 a group of campaigners disrupted the official opening of a new Iceland store in Rhyl over a lack of Welsh language provision.

Fifteen members of Cymdeithas yr Iaith protested outside and inside the shop, complaining to managers about the lack of Welsh language signage.

At the time Iceland responded by saying: “We do not currently provide signage in any language other than English in any of our stores in any part of the UK or Ireland.

“Changing this policy would add complexity and cost to our operations, and as such would be contrary to two of our foremost objectives: making everything we do as simple as possible, and delivering the best possible value to our customers.

“Feedback from our colleagues and customers in Wales indicates that the great majority are content with our current arrangements.”

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