Call for fast food outlets to help tackle Dudley's obesity problem

By George Makin | Dudley | News | Published:

New fast food outlets in Dudley could end up paying levies to help tackle the borough’s obesity problem.

Dudley Council

Councillors are asking planning officers to explore imposing charges on successful applications to build shops selling ready made, hot meals like fish and chips, to pay for public health projects.

In a move to get run residents to exercise more, new fast food outlets could pay towards activities like marathons.

Councillor Bryan Cotterill backing a call for more free sporting events in the borough told members of the health and adult social care scrutiny committee: “What I want to suggest and I know other authorities do it, is that when we get applications for new fast food outlets or changes to existing premises, we should impose a charge which can be used to fund such events.”

But Dudley Council officers warned the authority would have to change its local planning guidelines to find a legal method of imposing a charge.

They added it would also require changes to existing laws, pointing out Dudley’s attempts to ban the building of fast food outlets near schools had been successfully challenged by a major retailer.

But Councillor Cathryn Bayton, supporting the move, said Southwark Council operated such a levy and asked health officers contact the London borough to see how it can be implemented.

She added: “I think we have to start, certainly in our town centres, to see how we plan public spaces and how we encourage physical activities in those.”

The recommendation came after a report to the committee showed that Dudley is ranked 301 out of 326 councils for adults being physically active.

Council officers will investigate how it can impose a levy before their findings are forwarded to the borough’s cabinet for further discussion.

George Makin

By George Makin

Local Democracy Reporter covering Sandwell and Dudley.

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