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North Lanarkshire Schools Exclusion Zone Fails
Burger van owners in North Lanarkshire have overturned an exclusion zone which banned them from locating near schools. About 30 businesses took the council to court after it refused to let them trade within 250 metres of schools.
The council said having the vans near schools ran counter to its promotion of healthier lifestyles for children.
At Hamilton Sheriff Court, Sheriff Vincent Smith ruled the council did not have the power to impose this condition on the licences of the street traders.
Sheriff Smith said: "That obesity among the general population and children especially is considered problematic is not in dispute.
"That elected representatives wish to confront this problem and take steps to promote healthier lifestyles is to be commended.
"Neither of these is the issue in this case. The issue is whether the defender, as a licensing authority, has the power to impose this particular condition upon the licences of street traders. In my judgement it does not."
The businesses affected by the exclusion zone were represented by commercial law firm TLT. The firm's Stephen McGowan said: "I am aware that a number of other Scottish licensing authorities have similar policies which ban snack vans from being located next to schools. So, it may be that these policies will be revisited following this judgement, but it is of course now open to the licensing authority to consider any appeal to the Court of Session."
North Lanarkshire Council's learning and leisure services convener, councillor Jim Logue, said the authority was "very disappointed with the sheriff's decision".
"Unfortunately, the primary legislation affecting the licensing of snack vans was enacted in 1982 and does not reflect current widespread concerns regarding health-related challenges from poor diet and lack of activity," he said.
"Childhood obesity is a recognised problem, not just in North Lanarkshire but across Scotland and I believe we have a duty to look after our pupils health.
"Our policy was about sending out a clear message that snack vans parked directly outside the school gates was unacceptable and also that this authority takes its responsibility to look after the health of our young people seriously."
Councillor Logue added: "I'm now calling on the Scottish government to take action and examine what can be done to tackle this issue."