3740 op­pose McDon­alds fast food out­let

Mansfield Courier - - NEWS -

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.

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