Labour burghers halt Portillo's Big Macs

By Rachel Sylvester, Political Staff

The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 17th September '96

PLANS to turn th head quaters of Michael Portillo's constituency Conservative associaton into a McDonald's drive-through burger bar, have been rejected by Labour councillors.

The planning sub-committee in Enfield, north London voted unanimously to throw out the application, saying it was inappropriate for the neighbourhood because it was likely to generate excess noise and traffic.

Enfield and Southgate Conservative Association's deal with McDonald's, estimated to be worth £325,000 was dependent on planning permission being obtained.

The fast-food chain had already lodged an appeal with John Gummer, Environment Secretary, because they feared the outcome would be negative.

The proposals for the site have generated outrage in the area. Hundreds of residents attended the meeting last night to protest about the scheme, presenting a petition of 2,000 signatures of people who objected to it.

Some residents complained that Mr Portillo, the Defence Secretary, was not there to hear the verdict. Last month Mr Portillo was heckled and jeered when he attended a public meeting about the proposed sale. Residents accused him of "acting like Pontius Pilate" because he refused to condemn it.

Before the vote, Tony Kinsler, Labout chairman of the planning sub-committee, said: "In my view the location is totally inappropriate. It will only exacerbate the problems we already have in this area."

The 14 members of the committee - Tories and Labour - all rejected the application. Peter Tasken, chairman of the Winchmore Hill Residents' Association which had co-ordinated the protest, said after the meeting: "I am absolutely delighted that the committee has agreed with us. We know McDOnald's plan to appeal but we will take this all the way up to the Secretary of State to get him to uphold the decision.

"It is a shame Michael Portillo was unable to be here to see the depth of feeling against the completely inappropriate development."

He said that during business hours at night residents would have been affected by floodlights, car doors slamming and the noise of stereos.

He claimed that McDonald's planned to cllect waste only once a week, despite being open for a total of 113 hours. "The stench would be horrendous", he said.

Some local residents, who have voted Tory in the past, have threatened to withdraw their support for the party.

Terry Neville, head of the Conservative councilers in ENfield, said: "At the public meeting, there was a lot of hostility towards our MP," he said. "But I believe when it comes to a general election people will vote on much more important issues."

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