A councillor’s call to restrict the number of takeaways in areas with high childhood obesity and deprivation has won unanimous support.
Charles Edwards put his proposal to a meeting of Lancashire County Council.
It recommended advising district councils - which ultimately decide whether to allow fast food outlets - to refuse permission:
***Within a 400m radius of a secondary school.
***In wards where more than 15 percent of year 6 pupils or 10 percent of reception pupils are obese.
***Where a new outlet would result in a clustering of takeaways in an area of deprivation.
County Cllr Edwards, the Lead Member for Health on the Conservative-run authority, said his “non-controversial suggestion” was designed to encourage district councils to adopt what would be “a legally-enforceable policy”.
Labour opposition leader Azhar Ali welcomed the move and asked that other measures be considered, including the improvement of school meals.
But the debate did serve up some disagreement over why certain sections of the community favour fast food in the first place.
Gina Dowding, a Green Party member on the authority, said: “What hasn’t been highlighted is why people use fast food outlets - and that’s because they provide cheap food.”
Amidst cries of “They don’t!” from the Conservative benches, County Cllr Dowding added: “So we have an issue here that isn’t being addressed and that’s...food poverty.
“There’s a strong correlation, particularly among children, between obesity and poverty.”
Conservative Andrew Gardiner rejected the suggestion that takeaways were giveaways.
“If I were to take my [family], say, to McDonald’s, it would cost 20 pounds. If I were to go to Aldi or Iceland, I could get good quality fish, meat, vegetables and fruit to feed them for half a week on that twenty pounds,” County Cllr Gardiner said.
“It’s about educating people - and this is a starting point.”
Meanwhile, Stuart C Morris, the recently elected Conservative member for Morecambe North, spoke to highlight the need for sport amongst Lancashire’s children.
“It’s the intensity level that’s important. You might say, ‘Let’s go for a walk,’ but really it’s not enough - you need to be out of breath for it to be effective,” County Cllr Morris said.
Liberal Democrat David Howarth bemoaned the way children travel to school and also called for a wider debate.
“I live around the corner from three schools and until about a quarter past nine in the morning, I can’t get out of the house because children have stopped walking to school. We need to promote healthy living more generally and more exercise,” County Cllr Howarth said.