Pulling a fast-one on takeaways

It seems that Mr Heenan has taken the political silly season to heart. It difficult to see any other explanation for his apparent sudden disliking for takeaways.

Mr Heenan has been involved in development control , having been on Swindon Borough Council’s Planning Committee — more recently as committee chairman — since he was in his political nappies. He would be aware, one would hope, of the contents of his council’s Core Strategy, which requires local retail centres in all new developments to be in close proximity to other community facilities. In particular, if you look at any of the maps for new developments around Swindon in Part 4 of the strategy, you will see that each one has the ‘local centre’ and primary school located together. Any retail development outside of the the local centre is strongly discouraged by the strategy.

Yet now, Mr Heenan has proposed that fast-food takeaways be banned within ¼ mile of any school, as a ‘contribution’ to reducing child obesity. So you wouldn’t be able to open a takeaway anywhere outside of a local centre, nor within ¼ mile of a school, yet all new local centres would be within ¼ mile of a school.

Now komadori is only a very occasional eater of takeaways — about once per month — but they are an essential part of of any local community centre, along with a small general store, a pub and, quite often, a hairdressers. If there was evidence to support Mr Heenan’s ideas, perhaps it would be reasonable, but there is no hint of evidence in the agenda for the meeting at which Mr Heenan proposed this idea. And if takeaways should be banned, then what about general stores that sell sweets to children? And what about all those parents that drive their children to school — why not ban petrol station shops from selling junk food as well, in case the parents stop-off on the way and buy their kids something unhealthy? If Mr Heenan’s really concerned about children’s health, why not ban parking and waiting near schools, so that all children have to walk to school? All of these suggestions would be regarded by some as ridiculous, yet all could have just as big an effect on children’s health.

Mr Heenan’s proposal is bereft of logic. To me this looks no more than a quick-fried policy, cooked-up in a hurry and quickly served to grab some summer headlines.