Five takeaways 'within yards' of Luton's biggest primary school

At least five takeaways are within yards of Luton’s biggest primary school, a meeting was told.

Attempts to prevent fast food outlets being close to new schools are part of the borough council’s strategy to promote healthy eating.

Downside Primary School

Downside Primary School

But enforcing it is difficult, the local authority’s health and wellbeing board heard.

Labour Saints councillor Javed Hussain asked whether takeaway premises near schools could be avoided through planning measures.

Labour council leader Hazel Simmons, who chairs the board, said: “We have passed this resolution through executive about two years ago, and it is with our planning department, but it is very difficult to get this.”

Lucy Hubber, director for healthy lives and children’s integrated commissioning said: “We can’t do this retrospectively.

“Take Downside Primary School. You have a McDonalds, a KFC, a Pizza Hut and several chicken and chip shops within 30 yards of the front door.

“At Futures House, there is a chicken and chip shop we lease as part of the premises which is opposite a school.

“If you go there at 3.20pm, it is packed with children buying chicken and chips on their way home.

“That may be their main meal for some of them. But for others that’s their walking home snack and that’s on our premises.

“But recognising weight is only one measure of health is really important.”

Councillor Hussain suggested giving three treadmills and three bikes to places of worship, such as mosques, churches and synagogues, to help get people active.

Labour Farley councillor Mahmood Hussain said: “The planning department have not had the resources.

“A planning review is in progress, so we should ask for that (no takeaways outside schools) to be included.

“If the executive asked the council to do it, that should have been implemented two years ago and it hasn’t.

“It’s very contradictory as some of the schools with the least amount of takeaways have the worst problems.”

The service director replied: “Under the national child measurement programme not many parents take up an individual invitation.

“We do group sessions where we don’t take out obese children. We take out the whole school year group.

“It’s early days in this. The participation is great. The take home messages to parents are stronger.

“And we’ve seen improvements in children’s concentration in class,” she said.

“The changes are then passed down through the rest of the school because they’ve seen those older children engaging in healthy activities.

“And, although we did a pilot in five schools, Active Luton on behalf of Total Wellbeing have had to do it in a number of others because they have been knocking on their door saying ‘Yes, we want that. Come and do that’.

“So we’re going to be rolling that out. And we’re trying to think as broadly as possible.

“While sport in school is vital, actually encouraging enjoyment of being physically active outside is more important. That’s the thing you carry on in life.

“We need to normalise that activity outside of direct school delivery.