LONDON – Rutland County, the smallest in England in some respects, has had varied dining options for several years: pub food, Indian cuisine, tapas and even a Michelin-starred restaurant.
But it was the only English county that didn’t have a McDonald’s, until now.
The local council on Tuesday approved a McDonald’s request for a new restaurant in the county, a decision that many in the area saw as the surrender of England’s last fortress to the golden arches characteristic of fast food, despite the promise from the company that the establishment would provide at least 65 jobs.
Among the residents’ objections to McDonald’s, which is planned near the city of Oakham, were concerns about garbage, noise, obesity and crime.
Rutland, a rural county with a population of approximately 37,000 according to the most recent census, has stood out for its serenity and beauty. Hailed as “Britain’s best rural area for quality of life” by Halifax Bank in 2015, it includes the historic cities of Oakham and Uppingham.
“There are numerous independent food retailers in Oakham and the surrounding area that offer healthy, affordable food alternatives,” said Claire Baines, a Rutland resident, to the council, in one of 80 written responses from members of the public before the meeting who approved the request .
“Why, in these times of obesity, diabetes and other spiral health problems,” he asked, “would you encourage the introduction of a fast-food restaurant that serves nothing but junk food?”
Graham Show, who lives in Oakham, also opposed the opening of a McDonald’s branch that includes a car tour, and wrote that the trash from those outlets was “shameful” because “people throw away the leftover packages from their cars. ”
Others said they hoped a McDonald’s could help modernize the county and reduce unemployment.
“Rutland is a dazzling county, but it could go on with the times,” Victoria Wallace wrote to the council, and Nicola Tyers wrote that the fast-food shop would provide “the youngest generation in the area with jobs and a place to work.” meet friends in a safe and friendly environment. “
Gordon Brown, the principal member of the local council responsible for planning, said Tuesday that planning officials and council members had to be impartial in deciding on any new development, despite passionate views on the issue among members from the public
The new McDonald’s, he said in a statement, it was “approved because it would not have an adverse impact on neighboring houses and businesses or the character of the surrounding area, and will create a significant number of new jobs on land that are reserved for employment instead of houses.” “
The council said public comments had led to changes in the initial proposal, including more parking for disabled people and additional trash cans around the site.
McDonald’s also agreed to carry out “no less than three garbage collections every day” and collect all garbage that is within 100 meters (approximately 110 yards) of the site, Brown said.