Food trading banned from near schools across Milton Keynes

Obesity is a big problem in Milton Keynes
Obesity is a big problem in Milton Keynes

Food traders – including ice cream vans – are to be banned from trading within 250 metres of schools while students are there, even though it could harm their businesses.

Milton Keynes Council’s Regulatory Committee was told that the ban, caused by concern for children’s health, and road safety, would apply during normal school hours, and would not apply to fairs or other community events.

Council officers found 19 traders were operating within the proposed 250m exclusion zones, but only four of them were selling during school or college opening times.

One of the traders Mohammed Moosa, of M&A Grill, is in business within 250m of MK College. He told council officers that he “provides a service to the college’s students”. He added that if he was forced to relocate it would “harm the business.”

Apart from two councillors who voted against the proposal on Wednesday, on the basis that it was using a sledgehammer to crack a very small nut, the majority agreed that it was an issue of public health.

They received figures showing that last year in Milton Keynes, 22.8 per cent of 4-5 year and 34.5 per cent of 10-11 year olds were overweight or obese.

In a background report, council officers admit that street trading within 250m of schools is “not solely responsible for excess weight in Milton Keynes, but it is a small component that contributes to the wider 'obesogenic' environment.

“Limiting street traders alone will not be effective, but combined with other interventions such as prevention work in schools, healthier food standards for businesses, weight management services as well as work with the planning team and catering and leisure providers, might just have an impact on obesity at a population level.”