Medway cuts takeaway opening hours near schools

Fast food outlets in Chatham Medway Council said there were 238 takeaways in the area, with 179 within 400m (437yd) of a school

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A Kent council has voted to restrict the opening hours of fast food outlets near schools in a bid to tackle rising obesity.

Medway Council is to stop new takeaways opening near secondary schools at lunchtime and near secondaries and primaries after school.

The council said there were currently 179 takeaways within 400m of a school.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it was simplistic to treat all fast food restaurants in the same way.

The restrictions will be used as guidance when the planning committee considers new planning applications.

Councillor Jane Chitty said Medway's public health and children's services were extremely concerned about obesity.

Takeaway restrictions

  • No new hot food takeaways to open between noon and 14:00 within 400m (437yd) of a secondary school
  • No new hot food takeaways to open between 15:00 and 17:00 within 400m (437yd) of a primary or secondary school
  • Takeaway developers to pay £100 per 10m sq contribution to public health initiatives to tackle obesity
  • The restrictions will not apply to existing businesses

"Allowing the planning committee to take this guidance into account is a positive step," she said.

Local authority health profile figures show 30% of adults in Medway are obese, while the average for England is 24.2% and the wider South East 23.7%.

Among children in Medway, 20% of 10-year-olds are obese.

"To do nothing is not an option," said Councillor David Brake.

"We are already seeing the effect obesity has on our National Health Service and anything we can do to prevent this at an early age is welcome."

A secondary and grammar school that responded to a six-week consultation on the restrictions supported the restrictions.

But the Kent Small Business Federation has called them draconian and said obesity needed to be tackled by changing behaviour.

The BRC said local authorities should encourage companies that wanted to play a positive role in public health and target those that were less responsible.

"There are those that are working positively to cut obesity by removing fats and sugars from food and giving clear calorie labelling on their menu boards to help customers make healthier choices," said director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie.

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