Anti junk food student calls for people to back campaign against KFC and McDonald’s coming to Ely

How the new cinema site could look

How the new cinema site could look - Credit: Archant

An online campaign to stop KFC and McDonald’s being built two minutes walk from Ely College is growing in momentum with a plea to mass tweet chef Jamie Oliver as well as backing from the leader of the UK Green Party.

Will Law is running a campaign against KFC and McDonald's opening opposite Ely College

Will Law is running a campaign against KFC and McDonald's opening opposite Ely College - Credit: Archant

Student Will Law started his anti junk food campaign this week after planning permission was granted for a multi screen cinema complex and up to eight fast food chains opposite the college in Downham Road.

Will, who studied at the college for seven years before going to Sussex University to study English Literature, said: “Two of the largest multinational fast-food chains on the planet will be placed just 400m away from our local school.

“They should not be encouraged to profit from impressionable young adults.”

His campaign has already gathered 500 signatures and he has set up a Facebook page urging people to tweet celebrity chef Jamie asking for his support.

Will, of Littleport, said: “The council believe these fast food chains will ‘catapult Ely into the 21st century’ but Ely isn’t about McDonald’s, KFC or any chain restaurant.

“It’s the quirky, provincial qualities that make our city unique. Don’t give in to consumerism - think about our health and keep Ely a city we are proud to live in.”

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A spokesman for Jamie said: “We wouldn’t be able to comment on a specific case but Jamie has previously stated that ‘allowing any old junk food operator to open up within spitting distance of a school - that, to me, is madness’.”

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales has backed the petition saying: “There’s a well-founded concern in the school community, as shown by Will, a former pupil who set up the petition, about the impact of two more fast food outlets, particularly ones that advertise heavily, in close proximity to Ely College.

“We know that fast food outlets have an impact on the health of communities and that we have a huge issue with childhood and adult obesity.

“We need to support efforts like Will’s - people using the democratic tools now available to all to allow communities to express their wishes.”

Plans were approved by councillors in April but had to be referred to the Secretary of State for Local Government, Greg Clark, because of their size and scale.

In June Mr Clark gave the Government’s blessing for the leisure complex which cleared the way for developers, Turnstone, to start work on the site, which is hoped to create 280 jobs. It is hoped the cinema will be open by the summer of 2016 at the site next to the Ely Outdoor Sports Association.

There will be two drive-thru restaurants and up to eight other food outlets. Negotiations are taking place with fast-food chains McDonald’s and KFC.

An underpass linking the cinema to the rest of Ely will be lit and monitored by CCTV, Turnstone said, with almost 400 parking spaces.

The Ely city service bus route could be extended to cover the new facility, but negotiations are still taking place with the new owner, Stagecoach.

When plans were approved councillor Mike Rouse welcomed the complex saying it would make the city sustainable and cater for future growth.

Councillor Tom Hunt said: “It is absolutely fantastic. It is really very exciting to see this. It will significantly improve the quality of life for residents.”

Councillor Gareth Wilson said: “I very much welcome this application, the cinema is required by a lot of people.”

The site entrance will be developed into a one way system with an exit-only road created further along Downham Road.

Councillor Derek Beckett said: “It is something to applaud and will enhance the district.”