Health conscious pupils have told McDonald’s exactly why it shouldn’t open a restaurant next to Newcastle’s biggest school.
Youngsters have made an online video urging the fast food giant to pull plans to open next to Kenton School.
In the three-minute clip posted on video sharing site YouTube, the children say opening up a drive-thru there would increase traffic and cause more risk of injury to pupils, as well as having negative health effects.
They also urge campaigners to stop McDonald’s “wrecking the skyline” with its iconic giant ‘M’ signs.
The idea was the brainchild of pupils at St Cuthbert’s High School in Newcastle.
Teacher Michelle Summerside said:
“I live in the area so that’s where the link comes from. Also a couple of the pupils live in the Blakelaw and Kenton areas so aren’t too far away from where the McDonald’s would be.
“They have put some good opinions across. I asked them to research some facts and they have picked out some good stuff with a good message. I helped a little bit but it was their idea.”
Full story & video : http://northstar.boards.net/thread/166/mcdonalds-prompts-protest-newcastle-pupils
> The bad news – it’s at McDonalds…
Young worker Amy Farrow has landed her first full time job in three years after applying for over 1,200 posts without success.
Amy, who is 24, was one of hundreds of Hartlepool‘s unemployed young people and wrote off for up to 40 jobs a week for months until she was finally offered a job at McDonalds at Hartlepool Marina.
She says the job has given her back her self respect and allowed her to move into her own home and go on holiday for the first time in years.
> On a minimum wage McJob ? Is she a managing director or something ?
Amy, of Bakers Mead, Hartlepool, said:
“It is miles better now that I am working, I just feel more important.”
She also worked as a volunteer in a charity shop and had an apprenticeship at a restaurant before it changed owners and her hours were dramatically reduced.
In between stints in work, Amy applied for hundreds of jobs for bar work, in retail and waitressing.
“I used to go on all the job sites and walk around every day handing my CV out. It was hard.
“Sometimes the people I was applying to didn’t even get back in touch. I had quite a few interviews but wasn’t successful. I was only getting £110 a fortnight so it was quite hard to live on.”
Latest figures show Hartlepool has 455 people aged 16-24 who are out of work – a rate twice the national average.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 04 Jun 2015
Fast food outlets are treating employees like slaves, according to campaigners.
A global day of action saw people across the world take to the streets to highlight the plight of workers in the fast food industry, many of whom are on zero hour contracts.
Campaigners in the UK were largely organised by the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) who are calling for a £10 hourly minimum wage and the scrapping of zero hour contracts for those working at outlets like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC.
In Darlington, protestors from BFAWU and Darlington Against Cuts manned a stall close to McDonalds on Northgate and encouraged passersby to take up the fight against “slave labour”.
BFAWU representative Alan Milne said: “Zero hour contracts are going back to the dark ages.
“Fast food workers can go to work and be sent home with no pay despite paying expenses to get there or arranging child care.
“It’s fundamentally wrong and harks back to the shipyard days when people would stand outside waiting for work – it’s disgusting and needs to change.”
A former zero hours worker said:
“I worked in Darlington on a zero hour contract and had my work cut from 40 hours a week to 18.
“It’s slave labour – what’s next, work camps?”
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) representative Alan Docherty called on workers to fight back.
“People are locked in these contracts as they rely on the money but they’re scared to speak out as if you upset your boss, you won’t get the hours.
“The only way to combat this is to get organised and fight back.”
Source – Northern Echo, 16 Apr 2015
A total of 28,000 North East workers are on zero hour contracts for their main job.
The figure amounts to 2.3%, or one in 43, of the region’s workforce. However campaigners say it could be much higher.
According to the Office for National Statistics, nationally the number stands at 697,000 which represents a 100,000 leap in the past 12 months.
And because workers often have more than one job, the number of employment contracts offering no minimum hours rose from 1.4m to 1.8m in that time.
The ONS said the near 30% UK increase might not be as a result of a surge in zero hours contracts being offered but due more to increasing recognition of the contracts by staff when asked by researchers about their employment terms.
Neil Foster, policy and campaigns officer for the Northern TUC, said:
“When we’ve been campaigning on quality employment issues we find that a lot of people who are on a zero hour contract aren’t even aware that they are on them.
“Work from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has indicated the number of people with no guaranteed hours could be several times higher than others have traditionally picked up.
“Zero hours contracts are not defined in law and while this might be problematic for the statisticians they prove even more of a headache for the workers employed through this form of work.”
The ONS figures revealed people on “zero-hours contracts” are more likely to be women, in full-time education or working part-time.
More than 34% of people on “zero-hours contracts” are aged 16 to 24, a figure in the North East that looks set to rise.
And 34% of people on them want more hours though, according to the ONS, this could be linked to a higher proportion of “zero-hours contract” jobs being part-time.
Some of Britain’s largest employers offer zero-hours contracts including JD Wetherspoon, Burger King, McDonald’s and Sports Direct owned by Newcastle United’s billionaire boss Mike Ashley.
Even Buckingham Palace has offered the contracts to staff working in the summer when the Queen’s main residence is open to the public.
Mr Foster added:
“Many people on these contracts need and want more hours and greater certainty but instead find themselves at the beck and call of employers and in quite a vulnerable situation.
“Working people need to be able to look forward to the future and a real economic recovery relies on greater confidence – but zero hours contracts simply don’t provide that.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 25 Feb 2015
A homeless man has been provided with food, blankets, warm clothing and temporary shelter by generous Berwick residents.
The plight of Daniel, a 29-year-old man sleeping rough in the town, was aired on Facebook by local resident Iain Mitchell.
The news quickly spread and many more people have since offered their support.
As a result, he was provided with four nights’ accommodation in Berwick, a sleeping bag, blanket, clothes, replacement trainers, food and drink.
Efforts are now being made to provide Daniel with a more permanent solution.
“The response has been unbelievable,” said Iain. “I never thought one post would show there are so many kind-hearted people out there. I’d just like to thank everyone for their help.”
He was prompted into action when he drove past the Aldi supermarket last Wednesday night and saw Daniel huddled up as the temperature dropped to -2C.
“I initially thought he was waiting for a lift but then I saw him again half an hour later so I went into the Shell garage and a lady there told me he was homeless,” said Iain.
“I went to get him a McDonald’s and a large cup of tea. The smile on his face to receive something as simple as food nearly brought me to tears.
“We got talking and I found out the few bags he had were all his worldly possessions. I realised what a nice person Daniel is as we shared a few jokes. I then thought this guy can’t stay out here all night so I got him some old trainers as the ones he was wearing were falling to bits and when I returned, another wonderful kind-hearted person had provided him with a quilt, clean towel, socks, boxers and other essentials.
“He didn’t even have a sleeping bag as his was wrecked due to the weather so this person provided Daniel with things to make sure he would stay dry and warm which hopefully would see him through the night.”
Iain’s facebook friends then secured accommodation. Although this was initially for one night, further helpers came on board and paid for four nights.
“I want to personally thank Cindy and Sarah who got the ball rolling and to Kerry Anne Bell who paid for extra nights and also to the other people offering to pay for more nights for Daniel, and people who brought food clothes and other essentials,” said Iain.
“I didn’t do anything anywhere close to what most have done, so you all deserve big thanks for such acts of kindness to help someone you don’t know.”
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 16 Jan 2015
A damning report today reveals the “totally unacceptable” inequalities driving a widening health divide between the North East and the South.
Experts are warning the current approach to tackling the gap is failing, and the situation is only likely to get worse.
According to the report, a baby girl born in Coxhoe, County Durham, can expect to live for 15 fewer years in good health than a baby girl born in Richmond, London.
Public health experts have now highlighted how devolved powers from central government to the North East could play a vital role in helping close this gulf.
Due North: the report of the Inquiry on Health Equity for the North, is the outcome of an independent inquiry, commissioned by Public Health England.
Professor Clare Bambra from Durham University’s Department of Geography and an Inquiry panel member, said:
“The differences in people’s health in the north compared to other parts of the UK are totally unacceptable. Without a radical change to the current approach to health inequality, we are likely to see things getting worse.”
In the North East, 18% of residents are classed as living in poverty, compared to 12% in the South East. During the past 20 years the region has consistently had lower employment rates than the South for both men and women. These factors, among others, have had a subsequent knock-on effect on general health.
In more recent years, massive efforts and tens of millions of pounds have been spent across the North East on schemes aimed at improving wellbeing. Newcastle and Sunderland are just some of areas that have implemented ways of reducing inequality by campaigning for the payment of a Living Wage.
But the report sets out a number of recommendations including the use of devolved powers to ensure decisions about health issues in the North East are made in the North East. It states:
“Devolution is central for addressing health inequalities with the rest of England. Devolution means regions in the North retaining more power and resources to collectively develop solutions that build on the assets and resilience of the North.”
Ms Bambra said:
“Central government takes a ‘one size fits all’ approach to health spending. Devolution would allow us to address the problems we have here. In recent years we have lost our regional agencies in the North East so there is less focus on us.”
The report also recommended “collecting better data on children in the early years” so they can be tracked over time, monitoring inequalities in development.
In Sunderland over the last two years, figures showed 10% of reception-age children are obese, with local variations of 13 to 17% in some areas. By Year 6, the figure is 21% average, with some areas spiking at 26 to 34%.
Just days ago, plans to build a McDonald’s near a Newcastle school were rejected by councillors. Hundreds of people objected over fears the restaurant would promote unhealthy eating to children from nearby Kenton School.
Ms Bambra said:
“Lots of children’s life chances are determined before they are even born. We need to improve peoples’ access to affordable, healthy food.”
Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, said:
“This report highlights the need for Government to take action on poverty and the underlying causes of health inequalities.
“Many people in our region also still suffer ill health as a result of our industrial past. Ministers should prioritise those parts of our country with greatest need, not shift resources into more affluent areas.”
However, Coun Lee Martin, leader of Wearside’s Conservatives, said:
“If Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had done exactly what the coalition are doing on jobs, welfare reform, and education then the gap would have closed in the last 20 years. If anything we need to go further in tackling poverty and poverty of aspiration. Some of the North East’s councils adopting the Living Wage would be a start. I’m all for more powers being devolved but let’s have them devolved to people the public can elect directly rather than faceless council leaders.”
Prof Eugene Milne, director of Public Health at Newcastle City Council, said efforts were underway on Tyneside to address some of the most prolific health concerns. He added:
“We know that we have an extensive public health programme which aims to improve the general health of the local population – as a result we have made progress in key areas over recent years.
“However, this report correctly points to a continuing divide across the country, and between the rich and the poor in our society. We welcome that debate.
“Even with the rate of progress that we have, we know that it would take many decades to close the gap between the north and the south. Larger scale action is needed if the problem is to be addressed.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 15 Sept 2014
Controversial plans to build a new McDonald’s fast food outlet near Newcastle’s biggest school are to be raised in the House of Commons.
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah, a former pupil of the school affected, Kenton, is taking the step as she is so outraged at the prospect of it being sited there.
The two-storey ‘drive thru’ outlet is planned for Kenton Lane on the site of the old Crofters Lodge pub, sparking huge controversy.
Despite 221 objections put to Newcastle City Council, and two online e-petitions signed by nearly 600 people against the scheme, officers have recommended that planning committee members grant the application at a meeting on Friday.
Ms Onwurah said:
“I’ll be raising it in the Commons on Monday at Department for the Communities and Local Government questions.
“If it gets approval, I’ll be asking Secretary of State Eric Pickles why councils can’t take proper account of strength of local feeling.
“If planning permission is refused and I certainly hope it is, McDonald’s may think of appealing. If it is allowed then the planning process will have failed. In either case I want too know where this puts the Government’s so called localism agenda.”
McDonald’s claim the scheme will help create 75 jobs and generate £1.9m for the local economy.
However, since the plan became public Kenton School, which has 2,000 pupils, parents and local residents have strenuously objected to it.
Their concerns are about increased traffic on an already busy road, litter, noise, anti-social behaviour and public health issues.
With the country in the middle of an obesity crisis amongst the young, and Newcastle having some of the worst figures for it, there are fears that having a fast food outlet near a school could make the situation worse.
In their report, planners said litter teams, acoustic screens and control of its opening and delivery times will keep noise and litter issues under control.
They also said the existing highway network will be able to cope with increased traffic while the council’s ‘Draft Core Strategy’ which seeks to control the location of, and access to, unhealthy eating outlets don’t justify refusing the proposal on public health grounds.
Ms Onwurah said:
“Obesity is a danger to our children’s future. I really don’t understand how the officers came to their conclusion.
“There is a McDonald’s already close by in Kingston Park, a commercial area, and that’s fine.
“This is a cynical attempt to grab a new market in an area close to a school.”
“I am calling for Newcastle City Council and McDonald’s to respect the views of the residents of Kenton and Kenton School which are overwhelmingly against the proposals because of the impact it will have on their environment.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 03 Sept 2014
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has today been accused of being the biggest employer to use the soon-to-be illegal “zero hour” contracts.
The billionaire’s Sports Direct empire is said to have up to 20,000 part-time staff on the contracts.
But MPs and campaigners say the use of zero hours contracts is “unfair and exploitative,” as workers having no guaranteed working hours and have to seek permission from management to work elsewhere.
A copy of a 2012 contract is reported to tell employees: “If you wish to undertake any work outside the company, whether paid or unpaid, you should raise the matter with your manager … it may be decided that the additional work would conflict with your duties at Sports Direct.com Retail Limited. You would then be prevented from taking it up.”
It is understood this clause remains in current contracts and does not give minimum guaranteed working hours. Campaigners have described the wording as an “exclusivity” clause although it is not known whether Sports Direct enforces the rule.
Labour MP Alison McGovern said: “This seems like ‘exclusivity’ in all but name to me. It is clearly exploitative and really unfair.”
> Alison McGovern is MP for Wirral South. What, no comment from Newcastle’s Labour MPs ?
A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said zero hours contracts can benefit some workers because of the flexibility but that “unfortunately, it has become clear that some employers abuse this flexibility.”
The Government is seeking to ban such working conditions – which are also reportedly used by companies including McDonalds, Cineworld and Burger King.
Ministers estimate some 125,000 workers will benefit – meaning Sports Direct staff could account for almost one in six of the entire workforce the Government wants to help.
Sports Direct declined to comment.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 12 Aug 2014
A peaceful vigil became a noisy protest when EDL members arrived to “disrupt” it in Middlesbrough.
Members of Teesside Palestine Solidarity Campaign have been holding a vigil every Wednesday evening since mid-July for the Gaza crisis.
They meet every week from 5pm to 7pm outside McDonald’s in the town centre.
About 15 members of the English Defence League waving an England flag and an Israel flag turned up towards the last half hour of the demonstration, which involved around 100 people.
A makeshift prison was set up under The Bells sculpture on the corner of Linthorpe Road as part of the demonstration.
Children, men and women sat inside on the floor with tape across their mouths and wearing blindfolds.
Other protestors stood alongside them holding up Palestine flags and placards.
Kiran Hussain, 27, a civil servant from Linthorpe in Middlesbrough, played one of the prisoners. She said: “Basically we are coming here every week for them to stop what’s happening. Innocent children are dying so we’re raising awareness.”
John Bloom, 49, from Hartlepool and a bookshop owner in Middlesbrough, is one of the organisers of the weekly vigil. He said: “It’s important we stand with people and make others aware of the suffering and the situation.”
Saeed Ahmed, 50, from Ayresome in Middlesbrough, said: “We want our Prime Minister David Cameron to do something about it.”
A spokesman for the EDL said they were attending the demonstration to “disrupt” it and show solidarity with Israel.
Police watched on during the protest and only intervened once EDL members marched towards the vigil.
Nine police officers and police community support officers formed a wall between the two groups and stopped members of either side coming into close contact.
Both groups dispersed peacefully once the demonstration had finished.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 07 Aug 2014
A special “tax” on fast food takeaways to help fund obesity programmes and deal with litter left by customers has been called for in Newcastle.
The suggestion follows the city being the first in the country to introduce a late night levy on bars and clubs to help police deal with drink-fulled crime and disorder.
It was proposed by Lib Dem councillor Greg Stone and follows a recent controversial planning application by McDonald’s for a site near Kenton School, the city’s largest secondary school with around 2,000 pupils.
The application is to go before the council’s planning committee later this month and has provoked a storm of protest from residents, local councillors and the head of Kenton School, David Pearmain.
In a motion put to a full Newcastle City Council meeting, Coun Stone asked for it to investigate the feasibility of asking businesses with negative socio-economic effects to help offset these by paying an annual “sustainable retail levy” to support initiatives such as local high street improvements, anti obesity schemes or financial inclusion projects.
It also asked for the council to consider greater controls on changes of use to things like hot food takeaways in identified local retail centres and streets.
The Lib Dem Opposition group’s motion highlights the findings of the council’s own Retail Health Check Analysis, which was instigated by the Lib Dem administration in 2010.
He asked for a report to be carried out to assess how the council is progressing with implementing its recommendations.
Coun Stone said the issue of local retail vitality and the “healthiness” of high streets is a concern, and the number of takeaways in the city is continuing to proliferate.
He said: “Local communities should have more say. I don’t want to ban takeaways but they do affect the local way of life and can lead to later problems.”
He said takeaways contributed to “toxic High Streets”, which also included the effect on them of pawn shops, money lenders and bookmakers.
Labour Coun Joyce McCarty rejected the levy idea, saying: “We don’t want to see another tax on small businesses. If we’re going to try and work with the businesses we need to look at issues case by case and deal with it as the need arises.”
There were also criticisms of the easing of planning laws by the Coalition Government which makes it easier for retail outlets to change to fast food takeaways.
In the amendment to the Lib Dem motion, which was accepted, the council agreed to continue to support local retail diversity and vitality as well as the introduction of “localist” retail planning policies to improve the health and vitality of local retail centres.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 03 July 2014