3740 oppose McDonalds fast food outlet
A PETITION opposing the establishment of a McDonald’s restaurant in Mansfield signed by 3740 local residents and visitors so far has been sent to the chief executive officer of the McDonald’s company.
The petition has been circulating in the Mansfield district since late November following confirmation from the international fast food giant that it was investigating Mansfield as a site for a store/McCafe combination (Courier, October 16, 2013).
This was reconfirmed last week (Courier, March 19, 2014).
The petition resulted from spontaneous concern across the shire, particularly from parents and teachers of young people.
It is believed to be one of the biggest petitions in living memory and has the support of local medical practitioners.
Concerns extend beyond McDonald’s to any big brand, prominent, ultra processed food outlet with huge resources that could impact on planning and influence the way the community aspires to live.
It also came in the wake of a Mansfield Shire health and wellbeing report released last year which highlighted that obesity and diabetes are significant health issues in Mansfield with 46 per cent of the local population overweight or obese.
A copy of the petition was also presented to the Mansfield Shire CEO David Roff last Friday by petition organiser, Jo Herbert, and home economics teacher, Andy Kappes.
It will be tabled at the next meeting of the Mansfield Shire Council on April 14.
Ms Herbert said she felt encouraged and hopeful because of the overwhelming response from so many sectors in the community as well as visitors over summer.
As a parent, she said her main priority was the education of young people about nutrition and health risk.
“Any big brand, ultra processed food outlet would compromise these values,” she said.
“A response of this magnitude from so many people certainly sends a strong message.”
She said the shire council was given a copy of the petition because of the number and diversity of signatories which included many young people (primary and secondary age), parents, teachers, business retailers, visitors and regular visitors with property interests.
It has strong relevance to the shire’s Health and Wellbeing Plan as well as the anticipated Town Structure Plan which is currently in the consultation phase.
“There is a need for people to have a say in the current planning consultation process for our town,” Ms Herbert said.
“The petition is an important document reflecting the values and expectations of people who live and care for this community.”
Ms Herbert said that action was needed now before it was too late which will be the case when a well-resourced multinational company submits its planning application to council.
“We accept there are people who like McDonald’s and similar franchises.
“But the risk to the health of our children and vulnerable people in a small town envied for its emphasis on healthy outdoor lifestyle is too great to ignore,” she said.
Anecdotally, she said the following concerns were expressed by those signing the petition:
our children will be vulnerable to the convenience and marketing of a giant fast food chain with huge resources;
visitors come to the Mansfield district regularly to escape the fast food chains and big brands and enjoy local food and ambience;
obesity epidemic is linked to fast, ultra processed food;
impact on our small businesses and culture which cannot compete with multi-national franchises; and
concern about planning impact, illuminated signage, footprint, hours of operation.