Councillor defends the right of Marlborough residents to become obese in 'discussion' over kebab van street trader application at Leisure Centre car park

Written by Neil Goodwin on .

Marlborough Leisure Centre and car park - where to buy the Kebabs and Burgers?Marlborough Leisure Centre and car park - where to buy the Kebabs and Burgers?A request for the Town Council to comment on an application for Street Trading Consent to site a unit in the car park of the Marlborough Leisure Centre to sell 'Kebabs, Burgers, Chips and hot and cold soft drinks' achieved its goal and did attract plenty of comment - mainly in the form of significant opposition from Councillors and local residents.  However, opinion was not quite universal.

The application sought permission to be open between 4pm and 11pm every day, seven days a week.  In effect a permanent fixture within the Leisure Centre car park.

The reaction from councillors and residents was near-unanimous:  'strongly opposed' was the most common opinion expressed by most speakers.

The grounds for objection were widespread and numerous.  The common theme was health:  Councillor Cairns questioned why this was being discussed whilst Wiltshire Council, the operators of the car park and Leisure Centre (which is dedicated to the maintenance and improvement of health) were heavily behind reducing obesity.  In fact, he pointed out, "we had an obesity summit in Trowbridge last week"....  "Wiltshire Council stated categorically that they were in favour of reducing the incidence of obesity in Wiltshire".  He added: "We should promote the public health aspects of how we view these applications".

Other councillors echoed this theme as did Barton Park resident Ian Mellor who presented a long and comprehensive list of reasons for objection, citing noise, litter, smell, proximity to schools, loss of parking spaces (in a busy car park), nature of traffic attracted by the presence of the kebab van (HGVs) as well as health "ridiculous to site a junk food outlet outside a sports centre where children go to keep fit", and "close to a nursery school and secondary school where children will be tempted to buy fattening products".

Every member of the public who voiced opinion, and (nearly) every councillor who spoke were vehemently against this street trading application being granted.

However, this was not universal and there was one single dissenting voice.  Councillor Harry Forbes saw that such opposition was an attack on freedom, and in answer to Councillor Cairns' comments regarding obesity and public health, commented "I completely disagree with what Councillor Cairns has said.  If the people of Marlborough wish to be obese, that's their own individual choice and I propose no objection to this application".

His was the sole vote against when a show of hands was called at the end of the discussion.

Whether to allow or turn down the application will be decided by Wiltshire Council but opinion voiced by the Town Council will be taken into consideration when this final decision is made.