A city divided: counter-petition to say YES to fast food joints in Ely scores almost 1,000 signatures - 400 more than the original

The counter-petition says 'yes' to a new cinema complex in Ely which is set to include fast food res

The counter-petition says 'yes' to a new cinema complex in Ely which is set to include fast food restaurants - Credit: Archant

In a fresh twist, almost 1,000 Ely residents have said ‘yes’ to the opening of fast food restaurants as part of a leisure complex due to be built opposite Ely College.

It comes just days after a separate petition was started in an attempt to stop the stores from opening.

The counter-petition, launched by Ely resident Victoria Mack, says the city needs the leisure centre, which could create up to 300 jobs.

The petition has gained 980 signatures - 400 more than the original petition launched to stop KFC and McDonald’s being opened.

Ms Mack believes that Ely needs new facilities, like the cinema complex which is due to open next year, to prevent residents having to “travel along the lethal A10 road just to enjoy themselves.”

Student Will Law had appealed to East Cambridgeshire District Council to prevent chains such as KFC and McDonald’s being opened over the road from Ely College.

He feels that the fast food giants “should not be encouraged to profit from impressionable young adults.”

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Mr Law’s campaign gained backing from Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, but since its launch, the opposing petition has stormed ahead in terms of signatures and public backing.

Sara Brown of Ely said: “I don’t want my children having to keep travelling to go to the cinema. Ely is growing; people want to live here - let’s make the facilities great.”

Jo Bennett of Pymoor, who said: “Ely needs modern facilities - somewhere to go with friends or take the family. Youngsters will not become obese from junk food as they play sport everyday and are aware fast food is an occasional option and not an everyday food.”

It seems that those who have signed in favour of the complex will get their way, after Councillor Josh Schumann, chairman of East Cambs Council planning committee, said: “We would stress that approval for the food outlets has already been given and the choice of the companies which fill these spaces is entirely in the hands of the developer.”

Plans for the complex were approved by councillors in April and in June, Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Local Government, gave the leisure complex the green light which cleared the way for developers to start working on the site.

The site will house two drive-thru restaurants and up to eight food outlets, with negotiations taking place with fast food chains McDonald’s and KFC.