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McDonald's pulls plug on Wi-Fi, starts playing classical music to soothe yobs

Welsh city of Wrexham has a reputation to uphold

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than British McDonald's branches, so the burger joint is trying a new tactic to curb its patrons' bad behavior – by blasting classical music at them.

A haven for tracksuited youths by day and a gutter for drunks by night, McDonald's usually decorates the air with radio dross perfect for some of its brutish clientele – a group reportedly causing trouble for Wrexham in Wales, a city put on the map for the purchase of its ailing football club by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

The change of mood music at McD's was deemed necessary after a group of 20 to 30 youths "rampaged through the streets" near the fast food outlet and some other trouble spots last week, according to Wales Online.

Inspector Luke Hughes of the Wrexham City policing team said: "I have spoken about these locations a few times and the concerns I have about youths gathering, as well as some of the behaviours we were starting to see that were causing concern and upset.

"We had multiple reports... of one particular group of youths, that at times numbered 20-30, roaming between locations. There was more than one allegation of assault, a fire extinguisher set off, signs and coins thrown at shop staff and younger children chased by this group.

"I was absolutely appalled when I received the overnight incidents. I am determined to address this behaviour. We did apprehend a few, and took a few home, but I'm not content that this will fix the issue long term."

In response, McDonald's told the BBC: "We are aware of anti-social behaviour affecting the wider area, and have introduced a number of measures in our Wrexham restaurant to support the police in tackling this issue. These include playing classical music from 17:00 GMT and turning off the Wi-Fi at certain points in the evening."

The Golden Arches previously said it had tested classical music in some of its restaurants and found that it "encourages more acceptable behaviour." Whether this is supposed to work like playing Skinny Puppy to Guantanamo Bay inmates or that the music is believed to "civilize" local louts is unclear.

Either way, Insp Hughes welcomed the news, saying: "I also want to thank those businesses that I had written to earlier in the week. I had a great response, with some imposing entry conditions. A well-known fast food retailer will be playing classical music from 5pm in the evening, so unless we have some local and unruly Beethoven enthusiasts, it should discourage some issues."

An astute Wales Online pointed out that the leader of the ultraviolent gang in A Clockwork Orange was partial to a "bit of the old Ludwig van" so perhaps Wrexham should be careful what it wishes for.

Somehow McDonald's has become a nexus for the worst excesses of the Great British public. Last year the Welsh government said it wanted the chain to print car number plates on takeaway bags to discourage customers from littering, but the privacy minefield "was fraught with some difficulties," Swansea Council said. ®

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