Restaurant Goes Up In Flames
Central Somerset Gazette
5 September 1996
|Shocked employees Sarah Hibbins and Emma
Bartlett, from |
Glastonbury, flank McDonald's area manager David Wynne
at the charred remains of the Glastonbury restaurant
A blackened hulk is all that remains of the McDonald's restaurant which opened almost overnight three months ago. It took five hours to put out the flames which raged through the former Little Chef building in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The alarm went off at midnight but a police patrol car which went to the scene found that everything appeared to be normal.
Fire crews from Glastonbury and Street found the building alongside the Glastonbury relief road well alight when they reached it at 4:20am. Glastonbury fire station officer Ian Tucker said: "We had to call for assistance from Bridgwater and Yeovil, and had to use breathing equipment. It took an hour to bring the fire under control."
McDonald's area manager David Wyne said that the 35 employees would be found jobs in other outlets. "It is the sort of thing that happens to somebody else. I was a bit surprised", he added.
As a safety measure, firemen sprayed a water barrier between McDonald's and the adjacent Fina garage. Fina cashier Sue David, from Street, said she was shocked when she arrived for work at 6:30am. "I got permission from the fire officer to get into the premises. There was no danger", she said.
McDonald's press spokesman Peter Warlow said the alarm was probably tripped by the fire, which was caused by an electrical fault. He said: "there was no evidence of a break-in". He added that a new building would take four weeks to rebuild at a cost of £750,000. The one stumbling block to overcome is that the former Little Chef does not belong to them. But it is not a question of if we will open but when. This is a very successful restaurant", he said.
On 1st June McDonald's opened a new restaurant on the road from Glastonbury to Street. By taking over what was previously a Little Chef restaurant they were able to avoid applying for a licence to sell food. However planning permission is currently being sought for the McDonalds "Golden Arches" sign (although the sign is already up).
Local residents have started a campaign against McDonalds, and on Saturday, 8th of June a protest was staged outside the restaurant. Two people really got into the spirit and came dressed as clowns - one on stilts! After 2-1/2 hours of leafletting and demonstrating, a petition signed by local residents was taken inside and handed to the manager, along with some of the rubbish collected from up to 100 yards down the road.
The organisers also hope to convene a public meeting to discuss why local residents were not asked about it, what the impact will be and what can be done about it.
Butleigh, Near Glastonbury
Somerset BA6 8SR
They also suspect that another McDonalds may be opening soon outside the Sainsbury's in nearby Street.
Local residents think that McDonalds picked the Glastonbury location because Mendip Council was bidding to build a theme park on the site and scores of tourists would have flooded the area. The "Avalon 2000" Theme Park was planned as part of the Millenium celebrations, but the bid has since failed.
Rumours have also circulated that Trusthouse Forte have given out approximately 600 sites to McDonalds, Burger King and one or two other fast food restaurants, and that whoever earns the most profits in the first six months gets the lot! (This has yet to be confirmed.)