New McDonald's in East Lothian town will fuel anti-social behaviour says senior police officer

A new McDonald-s drive-thru in an East Lothian town will spark a rise in anti-social behaviour and public nuisance incidents, A police chief has warned

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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.

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

Fast food alert: Chief Ins Neil Mitchell

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, Chief Ins 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.

Police chief said trouble has risen after opening of 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.

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“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."

Chief Ins Mitchell warned: “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 members 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.

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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.

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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