Cathedral's Big Mac discounts under fire

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The Independent Online
SALISBURY Cathedral in Wiltshire is being criticised for a fund- raising scheme in which visitors are given discount vouchers for the city's McDonald's restaurant, writes Andrew Mourant.

Steve Radford, who runs the restaurant, has paid for the production of parchment scrolls to be handed out to tourists in the cathedral as mementoes.

Around each is tied a small voucher redeemable at McDonald's. A percentage of the proceeds will go towards maintaining the fabric of the 750-year-old cathedral. The venture was agreed between Mr Radford, who has a son at Salisbury Cathedral School, and Brigadier Christopher Owen, Clerk to the Chapter. About 5,000 scrolls have been printed.

'We wanted to produce a keepsake of high quality which would express in an architectural and spiritual way what the building is about,' Brigadier Owen said.

But not everyone has rejoiced in the unholy alliance. One visitor said: 'I don't think it is a good thing for a cathedral of this stature to be doing.'

Brigadier Owen is aware of the dissenting views and says that there may be some snobbery involved.

Last year, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev John Baker, expressed reservations about using the building for commercial events. He is currently on holiday and unavailable for comment. But Brigadier Owen said the bishop was aware of the McDonald's scheme and had not objected.

He added: 'This cathedral is a source of inspiration to hundreds of thousands of people. If that means indulging in a little honest commercialism, so be it. We have to generate income if we are to keep the cathedral and maintain the ministry.'