'Welsh language' car parking machines cause long queues and complaints

One Caswell Bay visitor said people were "giving up" using the machine as they believed it "wasn't working" due to its instructions appearing all in Welsh. Credit: Media Wales

People have been complaining about payment machines in car parks that default to Welsh, despite an English language option being available to them.

According to one visitor in the Caswell Bay area of Swansea on Sunday, people were "giving up" using the machine as they believed it "wasn't working" due to its instructions appearing to be all in Welsh.

It comes after people complained that a pay and display parking ticket machine in Rhyl, Denbighshire supposedly only gave out instructions in Welsh.

Swansea Council's parking meter has a 'Press for English' option under the Welsh language instructions. Credit: Swansea Council

Over the weekend, Paul Sambrook posted about his experience in Caswell Bay on Facebook.

In the post, he explained that he had no problem with the machine's default language and in fact found it a "positive promotion" for the language. He claimed that even though one woman said that it was "all in bloody Welsh", her daughter had no issue with the machine and was able to use it.

Mr Sambrook wrote: "Interesting experience at Caswell Bay this morning. The payment machine for car parking defaults to Welsh and quite a few people were giving up because they believed that the machine wasn’t working - they couldn’t make the card payment as they didn’t understand the instructions.

"None of them realised there is a 'change language' button, though to be fair the button has an icon on it, not words. I had no problem but a woman behind me observed that 'it was all in bloody Welsh'. Her daughter, age about 13, had no problem and could both read the Welsh and press the language change button for her.

"The lesson is that defaulting to Welsh is a positive promotion of the Welsh language - but they really need a clear instruction on them about how to change to English or any other language included - or the initial screen needs to be bilingual.

"I’m sure there’ll be a few people grumpy about the Welsh, but replacing the Welsh with English would be the worst thing - the majority of people did manage to work it out or could read the Welsh well enough."

A spokesman for Swansea Council said: "We take our Welsh language obligations very seriously, and like all local authorities in Wales we have bilingual parking machines and are required to ensure the default language should be Welsh.

"All our machines have instructions in English on how to change the language at the press of a button."

Over in Rhyl, tourists and some locals were left scratching their heads when a pay and display parking ticket machine only gave out instructions in Welsh, according to North Wales Live. Queues developed as non-Welsh speakers struggled to work out how to pay for their parking at Rhyl’s central underground car park near the promenade, which is administered by Denbighshire County Council.

In response to the complaints, a spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council said: "Our car parks team are looking into this issue. We would like to remind people that there is two other machines available in the Rhyl Central car park and people can use the pay-by-phone smartphone app with location code 804281 as an alternative way of paying.

"Our pay and display machines default to Welsh, but there is a large grey "language button" that people can press to change the language. This is explained on the machines; however, customer service management is also patrolling to assist customers on site."