Wakefield Council forced to allow takeaways near primary schools after KFC fight

  • Video report by Katie Oscroft

Health chiefs say profits are being put before children's health after KFC successfully fought plans to ban takeaways near schools.

Wakefield Council is one of 24 local authorities which have reportedly been forced to backtrack on efforts to prevent fast food being sold to pupils.

Under its local plan, it wanted to enforce rules which would have meant new hot food takeaways could not open within 400m of both primary and secondary schools.

But the planning inspectorate partially upheld an appeal by KFC, meaning the policy will only apply to secondary schools.

A watered down local plan - with no exclusion zone for primary schools - was published by Wakefield Council in January.

Steve Turnbull, interim director of public health at the council, said it was a "surprise".

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"It's a really odd place to be. We didn't think it was controversial," he said.

"We're swapping profits for health and it's a hard place to be."

According to reports, since 2017 16 councils have abandoned plans to ban takeaways. A further eight have had to limit the extent of their powers, after the fast food giant responded to public consultations.

Mr Turnbull said efforts to battle obesity were being compromised.

"[It's] unfortunate because it exposes more children and families to ready access to hot food takeaways on a regular basis," he said.

"It can form a habit and it can make it harder and harder to live a healthy life. It is a setback, because we're trying to create a healthy environment."

Fran Bernhardt, of the food charity Sustain, said: "We really should be asking, 'is healthier food more available, affordable, accessible and appealing as unhealthy food?' and, in the vast majority of places across the UK, that's simply not the case."

In a statement, KFC said it took its role in making a "positive contribution" to communities "extremely seriously".

It added: "Like many businesses, we take up opportunities to contribute when local authorities seek the views of relevant parties on things like planning policy.

"This is a standard part of the policy making process to ensure potentially unconsidered impacts on the local area are brought to light. 

"As a part of this routine consultation process, we have offered our concerns on some draft policies which took a broad-brush stroke approach, supported by limited evidence, that would in practice actually mean a ban on opening any new restaurants at all in the local area."

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