Swindon Town Council will consider introducing new planning regulations to prevent new fast food outlets from opening within a quarter of a mile of schools in the area.
The motion has been tabled with the intention of reducing the number of children that are overweight in the town. The plan is to help children avoid temptation and curb unhealthy eating habits.
Councillor Dale Heenan will propose that the new policy be introduced at the next planning committee. He explained that his intention is that planning officers will draft a policy that effectively bans fast food outlets from within a certain distance of a school.
Councillor Heenan’s view is that the issue should be debated in an open forum. If planning officers are able to draft a policy then the council would need to consult with residents to investigate whether or not they it is something that they would be willing to support.
If the idea is supported by the planning committee then the aim is for officers to begin work on the policy and report back in the New Year.
He has also suggested that the council should contact celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to ask if they would consider opening restaurants in Swindon, as well as possibly offering pupils healthy cookery courses.
Local GP and chairman of the national FDA, Dr Peter Swinyard explained that it’s really important that children eat a well balanced diet. From a medical perspective, Dr Swinyard supports the aim to reduce the amount of fast food that children consume.
However, a spokesman for the town’s business community claimed that the plan was slightly Draconian. Chris Watts feels that people should be able to make their own decisions about where they eat. His view is that plans such as these don’t address the root cause of the problem and, instead of restricting access; we should be looking more at education.
The Swindon proposal is very similar to a plan considered recently by councillors in Wrexham.