Takeaways near schools could be banned in Northampton to combat 'health time bomb'

A motion by Councillor Vicky Culbard to limit fast food shops near schools was passed on Monday.
A motion by Councillor Vicky Culbard to limit fast food shops near schools was passed on Monday.

Plans will be explored to stop new fast food shops being opened within 400 metres of any Northampton school.

Northampton Borough Council wants to follow in the footsteps of Tower Hamlets in London in implementing such a ban in a bid to tackle childhood obesity.

A motion put forward by Labour councillor Vicky Culbard received cross-party backing at last night’s full council meeting at the Guildhall, following an accepted amendment from the Tory-led council’s deputy leader Phil Larratt.

It means the council will commit to proposing through the local plan process a policy that there will be no new fast food outlets that fall within a 400-metre radius of any school. It will also consider creating a healthy food award for local retailers to encourage healthier food choices.

Speaking about her motion, Councillor Culbard said: “We need to realise that this ill health time bomb will happen if we will allow this to continue, and it will mean lots of our children grow up with the risk of heart disease or diabetes. It will be all of us that pay the price for this.

“Schools have already taken this on board and many are doing tasty, healthy meals for their pupils. But they are having to compete with these fast food shops.

“Parents will be grateful if we can put these first steps forward to create a healthier future for our children.”

New figures, as a result of a Freedom of Information request by this newspaper to NGH, reveal that since 2015 four children have been diagnosed with weight linked issues in Northampton.

One of the children, aged just one, was recorded as suffering from adiposity, while three other children aged between seven and 14 were treated at hospital with obesity.

But Liberal Democrat councillor Sally Beardsworth warned that parents were equally as culpable for obesity problems in young people, and had their part to play.

She said: “I can’t blame the fast food chains altogether. I blame parents too.

“We have to educate parents to get their kids towards a more healthy diet. A lot of people don’t even know how to cook these days. You will not get rid of the fast food chains unless you educate people not to use them.”