Aug 31 2012 by Jennifer Buchanan, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
For a new 250 metre exclusion zone is due to be implemented for unhealthy food vendors around all schools in the county.
The new zone starts from what the council designate the school perimeter and ends 250m out in any direction.
And it means that any vans or moveable premises selling food such as burgers, chips, ice cream or sweets will not be allowed to operate within the exclusion zone between 8am and 5pm on any school day.
The move is part of the council’s plan to encourage young people to eat healthier lunches at school.
And it is due to start on January 1, 2013.
Any vendors who flout the laws will be dealt with by the East Ayrshire Council licensing department and could be fined up to £1000.
A formal consultation on the plans was launched on September 22 last year. And on November 8, 2011, letters were sent to all street traders who hold an operators licence letting them know of the plans and asking for feedback.
Eleven traders responded and objected with the proposals.
And the general feeling was that the council was using the guise of healthy eating as an excuse to implement new restrictions on the street traders.
They also objected that the nearby fast food outlets and school cafeterias will be able to sell the same food that they would and they are the ones being penalised.
An average of 44 per cent of East Ayrshire school pupils currently eat school dinners.
And Graham Short, executive director of educational and social services at East Ayrshire Council, insists that school dinners are much healthier than those provided by the vans.
He said: “Following public consultation, the council agreed to create exclusion zones to prevent street traders from selling hot food (such as burgers and chips), ice cream and confectionery near to school premises.
“This initiative arose from the council’s policy, and responsibility to promote healthy eating for young people.
“Our school meals service provides tasty meals made freshly from locally sourced ingredients.
“Children are taught in class about the benefits of healthy eating and the benefits of nutritious food.
“The creation of exclusion zones supports the healthy eating policies and regulations promoted by the Scottish Government and East Ayrshire Council”.