Renfrewshire Council

Council urges Scottish Government for powers to save schoolkids from junk food

Renfrewshire Council is urging the Scottish Government to have the powers to continue to ban street traders from operating near school entrances.

The council has written to the Scottish Government to express concerns that the existing statutory powers to control the sale of unhealthy food near schools are inadequate and that local councils are being prevented from maintaining policies which promote the Scottish Government's own healthy living priorities.

The council is also seeking the views of local residents on the issue through a consultation on social media.

Renfrewshire introduced a policy in 2008 which prevented licensed street traders - usually burger or ice cream vans - from selling food near the entrance to schools.

The move was aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles by preventing unhealthy food being sold to pupils in the vicinity of schools during the school day.

A recent legal challenge by street traders to a similar policy in North Lanarkshire could potentially mean that Renfrewshire may no longer be able to continue its policy.

Councillor John Hood, Convener of Renfrewshire Council's Regulatory Functions Committee, said: "The policy we introduced in 2008 to limit the sale of unhealthy snacks near schools has been effective and has proved popular with parents and education and health professionals.

"As a licensing authority we continue to judge each application on its merits. However, it is vital that we have the ability to set policies which reflect the wishes of our community.

"In the case of street traders operating near schools, Renfrewshire - and a dozen other Scottish councils in a similar position - are actually putting into practice the healthy living priorities which the Scottish Government says it is committed to.

"That's why we are calling for a local and national debate on giving councils the powers - potentially through new legislation - to make a difference in dealing with the important issue of helping our young people to grow up healthy."

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council's Education and Children Policy Board, has already discussed the issue with parent council representatives.