Thursday 22 December 2016

Marks And Spencer Accused Of Being Not Taking Welsh Language Seriously

Marks And Spencer

Marks and Spencer has been accused of dishonouring the Welsh language by refusing to translate a sign into Welsh.

The company is opening a new store in Aberystwyth, and says most of the signs will be bilingual.

But its planning permission for signs could be thrown out at the last minute because they said ‘foodhall’ would only be written in English.

Council planners say ALL signs must be bilingual, but M&S insists that ‘Foodhall’ is a brand – like Autograph, Per Una or Limited Edition – and as such it cannot be translated.

Members of Ceredigion County Council say that’s not good enough.

The planning committee approved an application for 11 signs outside and inside the store – but inserted a condition that ‘Foodhall’ must be translated into Welsh.

They say unless M&S complies, it will withdraw its go-ahead for all other proposed signs in the store on Mill Street.

M&S could appeal the decision to the Welsh Inspectorate.

Cllr Mark Strong told members of the council’s planning committee: ‘Foodhall is not a brand it is a description, it should be translated.’

Cllr John Adams-Lewis said: ‘We should say this has to be bilingual. We need to go back to these companies and say all signs must be in Welsh too, and it should be Welsh first.’

Cllr Peter Davies said: ‘I am disappointed that Marks and Spencer is not taking the Welsh language seriously.’

There is currently no law – planning or otherwise – forcing a store in Wales to have fully bilingual signage.

An M&S spokesperson said: ‘Our property team is currently reviewing the planning committee’s decision and will be responding to the council in due course.

‘The term Foodhall is part of our brand signage and is not translated in any of our stores, in Wales or overseas.

‘Across the country, we’ve worked closely with the Welsh Language Commissioner to offer bilingual signage and service in all our stores across Wales, including adapting name badges so customers can easily identify our Welsh-speaking colleagues.’

Planning officer Jonathan Eurig told members: ‘We can’t force them to do it, only encourage them.’

But councillors said the company was ‘not doing enough’ and imposed the condition of planning anyway.



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