Police McDonald’s concern

Tuesday June 15th 2021


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

East Lothian’s police chief has warned that a new McDonald’s drive-thru in Musselburgh will lead to a rise in anti-social behaviour and public nuisance.

Chief Inspector Neil Mitchell, area commander, said that an increase in complaints had been seen when the the fast food chain opened branches in Dunbar, Dalkeith and Loanhead.

And he said he expected to see the same problems if the new one were given the go-ahead.

McDonald’s has appealed to Scottish Ministers to grant planning permission for a drive-thru off Olivebank Road in the town, after East Lothian councillors refused to give it the go-ahead at a meeting last August.

In a statement to the Scottish Government Reporter who is overseeing the appeal, Mr Mitchell raised concerns about an increase in anti-social behaviour and traffic congestion at the site, which is a short distance from Musselburgh Grammar School.

He said: “Should the application be granted, we would expect to see a rise in complaints of anti-social behaviour and public nuisance.

“This has been seen across Midlothian with the McDonald’s in Dalkeith and Loanhead, as well as at the McDonald’s in Dunbar.

“It is difficult to make comparisons to previous years due to the Covid pandemic, as many of these sites were closed for much of the year; however, for example: Dunbar McDonald’s from April 2020 to April 2021 we received 20 calls of which 10 were deemed anti-social behaviour or public nuisance.

“In the new Dalkeith McDonald’s, which can be considered a similar site, we received 24 calls of which 12 would be considered anti-social behaviour or public nuisance.

“It is worth noting that these calls only relate to the premises and not to any calls made to the nearby streets or other buildings and that they were closed for large period of time.

“It is clear that should the application be granted there will be associated increases in anti-social behaviour and other calls which would increase
demand on police.”

East Lothian Council’s planning committee threw out plans for the McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant last August after councillors disputed the fast food chain’s claims it would only attract a “limited” number of pupils from the secondary school.

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A representative for McDonald’s insisted that the location of the new restaurant, next to Tesco at Olivebank Road was not chosen because of its proximity to Musselburgh Grammar School or Tesco.

However, ward councillor Andy Forrest told the committee it would be a short walk to the restaurant for youngsters.

He said: “From the back door of the school to the front door of the new McDonald’s takes a 180-second stroll.”

And fellow ward councillor Stuart Currie said that children would “gravitate” to the restaurant.

He said: “About 400 kids go to Tesco at lunchtime. We will have hundreds of kids walking through Tesco car park to McDonald’s, they will gravitate to it.”

Musselburgh Area Partnership and Musselburgh and Inveresk Community Council both objected to the plans, which drew 157 objections and two statements of support.

Councillor Katie Mackie, Musselburgh ward member, said that she had recently timed a drive along the length of the road which would be used by the drive-thru and it took her more than five minutes.

She said: “I have had more complaints from local residents about this application than any other issue since I was elected in 2017.”

The planning committee voted to go against officers’ recommendation and refuse the application on the grounds of its impact on traffic, air quality and noise impact on the amenity of the surrounding residences.

The appeal is ongoing.

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