Judicial review hopes fade for NoMacinF

August 04 2017

A LEGAL challenge to a Planning Inspector's decision to give McDonald's the go-ahead for a two-storey drive-through in Fishponds is now unlikely.

A LEGAL challenge to a Planning Inspector's decision to give McDonald's the go-ahead for a two-storey drive-through in Fishponds is now unlikely.

Mike Jempson, chairman of the NoMacinF group that fought the proposed restaurant and takeaway in Fishponds, said members were bitterly disappointed that, after reviewing the lengthy inspection report, they were unable to pursue a judicial review in the High Court.

 "The advice both we and the city council have received is that we stand little chance of winning a costly judicial review, and if we lost we could also be liable to pay the multi-national's costs,” he explained.

"Our bitterness extends to the council too," he added. "Had they supported all our objections instead of just the traffic issues, we would have stood a better chance. And if they had moved more quickly to extend the exclusion zone for fast food outlets to 800 metres from schools and young people/s facilities this scheme could never have gone ahead." 

The proposed McDonald’s site, a former tile warehouse, is just outside the current 400m limit from two Fishponds schools.

Mr Jempson said the decision from Planning Inspector Martin Whitehead showed a callous disregard for the 2,000-plus people who had opposed the McDonald’s plans.

"He [Mr Whitehead] treated local objections with contempt. He largely ignored the mounting evidence we supplied of the health dangers of cheap fast foods, especially in deprived areas. Instead he allowed himself to be persuaded by so-called experts on McDonald's payroll. No doubt he will sleep easy in his bed, unlike those locally who will have to put up with McDonald's literally on their doorstep. Nor will he have to face the added dangers of increased traffic on Fishponds Road."

Mr Jempson pointed out that since Mr Whitehead's decision more evidence has emerged to confirm the group's claim that companies such as McDonald's are targeting areas where cheap menus can entice those on low incomes to rely on fast foods. "These are the very areas where childhood obesity is most common, and that is the route to obesity and diabetes in adulthood. McDonald's are laughing all the way to the bank, while the rest of us pick up the bill for the NHS," he said.

"Some people are really angry that their concerns have been ignored. There may be more challenges yet before McDonald's are up and running." 

NoMacInF campaigners will insist that Bristol City Council ensure McDonald's stick to the letter and the spirit of the many conditions that have been attached to their planning consent.

The NoMacInF group formed spontaneously in 2014 when McDonald's first applied for planning permission. It won backing from Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy. The campaign has included petitions, formal objections, demonstrations and lobbies of the Bristol City Council, which turned down McDonald's plan. The group took the unusual step of demanding Rule 6 status at the public inquiry which put them on equal footing with McDonald's and the city council.

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