Faraway takeaways

Here we go again

Takeaways are to be banned near hundreds of schools in a new drive to curb teenage obesity.

Councils across the country are rewriting planning rules to stop junk food outlets operating next to schools and tempting children away from revamped healthier canteen meals.

Stop right there. It was the Tories that introduced these “canteen meals.” We used to sit down to proper meals, and if we were fortunate, this included caramel cake and custard!

The measures follow a legal ruling this summer which clarified that councils can take into account the health and well-being of schoolchildren when considering planning applications from takeaway outlets.

A judge ruled that Tower Hamlets Council in East London ‘acted unlawfully’ when it allowed ‘Fried & Fabulous’ to open just 500 yards from a secondary school.

Just 500 yards from a secondary school!! The shock and horror of it: there’s a chippy a little over quarter of a mile away from a school. Why, it’s almost as bad as heroin being sold in the classrooms.

Studies have previously shown how junk food outlets cynically target pupils with child prices and multi-buy deals, while promotions on products such as pies and pizza slices drastically undercut prices available in school kitchens.

I hardly think tailoring your products to the local trade is cynicism. What I would like to know is how small businesses with little buying clout can drastically undercut prices available in school kitchens. Perhaps because the catering is now done by private companies: another bright idea from the Tories, although this still doesn’t explain the drastic price difference.

And maybe the children want to leave their indoctrination camp for an hour at lunchtime!

Waltham Forest Council, also in East London, last year became the first local authority in the country to ban fast food outlets from opening within a 400-metre ‘exclusion zone’ around schools, leisure centres and parks.

Sounds like Waltham Forest isn’t the place to go to start that new catering venture. Best try another area, oh but…

Now dozens of other local authorities are adopting similar policies, a poll of councils reveals.

More than half of 50 councils in the survey had already revised their planning policies or were in the process of looking at them again.

Barking and Dagenham has brought in supplementary planning rules which include a hot food takeaway exclusion zone set at 400 metres from secondary and primary schools.

Councillors in Medway, Kent, are investigating restrictions on fast food outlets ‘operating near schools, parks and leisure centres’ after becoming concerned at rates of childhood obesity in the area.

School food campaigners welcomed the measures after highlighting concerns that a crackdown on poor quality school dinners was being undermined by easy access to calorific and fat-filled snacks in local outlets.

Following celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s 2006 TV series, schools have introduced new menus, replacing processed and fried foods with lean meat, pasta and salad.

Why did it take a celebrity chef to produce a change? What forces acted against those school food campaigners in the past? Perhaps those in charge wanted to get on the telly to show how responsible they are.

However research by the School Food Trust suggests that measures to curb takeaways will take a long time to have an effect.

It found that secondary schools have on average 23 junk food outlets in their neighbourhoods, with some surrounded by 46.

I’m confused as to how allowing others to open will have any effect other than to prevent honest working folk from running a business. And is there a veiled threat here that long-established takeaways will also be given the chop?

Brent Council, North West London, is encouraging takeaways to use healthier ways of cooking dishes that school children gravitate towards when they come in for lunch or after-school snacks.

It is also investigating how fast food outlets near schools can be controlled through the planning system, with a report due later this year.

Control is always what it is about.

Councils with no plans to change their policies include East Sussex, which said it had instead concentrated on improving the range of food on offer in school canteens and promoting stay-on-site policies, where children are effectively locked in during break and lunchtimes.

Somebody can still think, then?

A spokesman for the School Food Trust said: ‘When children eat better, they do better, so limiting their access to unhealthy food around school is common sense; a survey for the Trust suggested that there’s an average of 23 takeaways for every school in the UK.

‘We’ve consistently supported local authorities that are taking steps to use planning regulations in making sure the hard work to improve school meals isn’t undermined by easy access to takeaway food right outside the school gates.’

Hundreds of yards away is not right outside the school gates! The explosion in the number of takeaways is mainly due to the laziness of the modern adult. Sales of potatoes are way down because people can’t even be bothered to peel them anymore. Banning new ventures within 1/4 mile of any school, park or leisure centre is going to deprive people of new local takeaways in large parts of most towns. The modern high street consists largely of takeaways, estate agencies and charity shops. The charity shops bring in little business and provide few real jobs; estate agencies are closing down (round here at least) and so it’s the takeaways to be targeted… for the cheeldren, naturally.

It is government that replaced healthy school meals with burgers and chips and sold off thousands of playing fields, but it is the small businessman in the high street who gets the blame for the childhood obesity ‘epidemic’.

In the 70s, we had good quality school meals at a price our parents were willing to pay. Then the politicians decided to play games with our health. Now the chip shop owners get the blame. A further nail in the high street’s coffin?

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3 Responses to Faraway takeaways

  1. Yep, I’ve written about this before, specifically with regard to Waltham Forest. They play around with the distances too.

  2. Stewart Cowan says:

    Obviously a Council metre is shorter than the one the plebs use, Dick.

  3. Stewart Cowan says:

    No, a Council metre is longer. It’s confusing…

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