McDonald bid for Portillo's Tory HQ is rejected

By Tim Jones

The Times, Tuesday September 17, 1996


PLANS for the Conservative Party offices in Michael Portillo's constituency to be turned into a drive-through McDonald's burger bar were rejected last night by a Labout-controlled council.

The proposed sale of the building for 325,000 to the fast-food chain had led to criticism of the Defence Secretary, MP for Enfield Southgate, north London, for not intervening in the bitter local dispute. Mr Portillo was not present last night when hundreds of residents packed the Enfield planning committee meeting at a civic center to register their anger and objections.

After the decision, Peter Taske, chairman of the Winchmore Hill Residents Association, said: "It is a shame Michael Portillo was unable to be here to see the depth of feeling against this completely inappropriate development." He told the meeting that, at night, residents living just 20ft from the restaurant would be subjected to bright lighting and sounds of car stereos and car doors being slammed. He added that as McDonald's planned to collect waste only once a week, in spite of being open for a total of 112 hours, the stench would be horrendous.

The massed protesters were backed by a petition from more than 2,000 people who claimed that a meon-lit restaurant would alter the area totally and bring pollution and noise for up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

Tony Kinsler, chairman of the planning committee, said : "I think Saddam Hussein would have called this the mother of all planning meetings."

During months of protest over the proposal, Mr Portillo maintained to opponents that although he was the local MP and the plan concerned the local headquaters of the Conservative Party he was unable to intervene in a local authority decision.

In spite of his postion, Mr Portillo had upset local Conservatives by refusing to condemn the plan. Last month he told a packed residents meeting: "The COnservative Association wish to sell this building because it is too big, it is expensive to maintain and it needs a lot of work.

"I don't think the association is at fault, and it is not a decision I played any part in. The London Borough of Enfield are the people you have elected to make decisions about planning matters."

McDonald's have already given notice that it intends to appeal against the decision.


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