LETTER: Council should ‘vet’ applications for fast food outlets

The new leisure and cinema development is undoubtedly good for Ely but the questions everybody should be asking are these.

Were East Cambridgeshire District Council aware of the risk to our children by allowing multinational companies such as McDonald’s and KFC to be placed so close to our schools?

It’s OK for the majority of people saying “don’t go there if you don’t want one”, “educate your children”, “kids don’t have money for fast food” and “they are not allowed out of the school”, but the worrying issue is the subliminal message these companies give out.

The big neon signs, the bill boards advertising 99p burgers and the road signs saying ‘McDonald’s this way’.

The school buses will be passing these fast food take always twice daily and that message will be flashing like a beacon to all the children as they pass.

Why should it be more convenient for our children to buy a burger than a loaf of bread, an apple or a pint of milk? I agree that if you want to eat fast food then it is your choice, but why subject impressionable young children to the message that fast food is more acceptable than healthy food.

ECDC knew the risks to the children when they approved the planning, they had the opportunity to add a proviso that, they ‘vet’ the applications for fast food, but they didn’t bother, they approved the plans regardless of which fast food restaurants the developer canvassed to bring on to the site.

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ECDC had the choice to place the development away from the schools, but they decided not to, why? I’d suggest the reason being, they knew by placing it as close to the school as possible, then the site would be worth more to a developer, this is nothing more than ECDC monopolising on the health of children.

Furthermore, I also understand that we will have the cinema and the fast foods, but not the leisure centre, the gym or the swimming pool; as they may come later, if there is funding? Why didn’t ECDC secure the deal so that there was funding? Have we been sold short and if so why? Why was ECDC so keen to go ahead with this site when they could not deliver the complex in completeness? Who is benefiting from this development being so close to the school, other than the developer, McDonald’s, KFC and ECDC?

Do we really have ECDC acting in our best interests? Have they really considered the health and wellbeing of our children and future generations to come? I suggest that ECDC knew the public outcry, if at the planning stage we knew the close proximity the likes of KFC or McDonald’s were going to have to our schools.

At the public consultation the public were not made aware of the full implications, but now we know what is destined to go on the site there is considerable public concern. These questions need to be heard and I call for ECDC to hold another public consultation.

Ely needs this cinema complex and improvement to its leisure facilities, but at what cost to our children’s health?


Broad Street