I’m not lovin it: McDonald’s signs fall foul of Welsh language policies
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
McDonald’s has been forced to resubmit plans for digital signs at a Gwynedd restaurant after falling foul of the council’s Welsh language polices.
Originally submitted last May, the fast food giant had applied to replace existing drive-thru signs at its Caernarfon restaurant with bigger but improved digital versions.
Displaying the full menu offering dependant on the season and time of day, such signs have been designed to speed up service for customers and have been gradually rolled out in its restaurants across the country.
But the bid was turned down by Gwynedd Council officers in November after the English-only boards were found to fall short of the authority’s Welsh language regulations.
The application, which did not reach planning committee stage, had seen members of Caernarfon Town Council use the consultation process to request if the signs could be both in Welsh and English – matching the rest of the facility which has mainly bilingual signage.
But the officers’ planning report states that after such concerns were relayed to McDonald’s, “confirmation was received that the signs were not bilingual due to the pictorial content.”
It went on to note, “Signs have a clear visual impact on the character of an area, including its linguistic character.
“They are also one way of promoting the unique culture of the area, which is significant in terms of the identity of different communities and the tourism industry.”
But while recognising that “some organisations and companies already have a strong brand and image that is already used beyond Wales,” it was felt that ”no attempt had been made” to create bilingual signs, which fell short of the planning policy .
Despite the setback, McDonald’s has now decided to re-submit the plans while outlining the efforts already undertaken to maintain a bilingual presence at the restaurant.
“The pay and collect booths have included bilingual text, as well as the text-based signage around the car park, which will be retained,” said the company in its supporting statement accompanying the latest application.
“The replacement signs are digital monitors, which display the products that are for sale to improve the operation of the drive thru lane and do not include fixed text.
“We have included a data sheet, which highlights the existing drive thru menu boards in comparison to the proposed digital screens and the overall messaging is image based.
“Within the McDonald’s restaurant are facilities for customers to order their meals in a number of different languages on the Self Order Kiosk and are proud that this has allowed members of the public to order in Welsh.
“The corresponding software allows this facility to be used by members of the public and enhancing the operation of the store.”
Its expected that Gwynedd Council’s planning department will consider the application over the coming months.