‘Say NO to the Levenshulme Takeaway Mile’: Councillor takes fight to fast food with petition

A Levenshume councillor is petitioning to limit the number of fast food outlets on a stretch of Manchester road being dubbed the ‘takeaway mile’.

Councillor James Hennigan claims ‘each time an independent shop closes, a fast food outlet is opened in its place’ on Stockport Road.

And he has now launched an e-petition to tackle the lack of responsibility for litter from takeaway owners as well as targetting late-night opening hours and anti-social behaviour attracted as a result.

The Liberal Democrat representative told MM that the current situation is something he’s been passionate about since he was elected in 2010 and he intends to present the petition to the council at the next meeting this summer.

He said: “I’m really frustrated that plans for more takeaways continue to be passed.

“I have set up the group to bring pressure on the (Manchester) City Council to listen to what my constituents in the ward are telling me in that they do not want any more of these type of licenses granted.”

The area already has the capacity to provide 35,000 meals per week. However, the City Council says it will not stop granting applications until 20% of the shops are takeaways – which could see the current number double.

Councillor Hennigan said: “I don’t really want to see the number of takeaways rising above the current 12%. I think we have reached tipping point now.”

Since launching the petition this week Cllr Hennigan has already received 167 signatures and almost 400 members to the Facebook group ‘Say no to the Levenshulme Takeaway Mile’.

The Liberal Democrat councillor, who lives locally on Elton Avenue, plans to continue spreading the word in Levenshulme in the coming weeks, delivering the petition to approximately 6,000 residents in the area.

Councillor Hennigan stressed that the last thing he wants to see is empty shops on Stockport Road. He added: “That’s not the aim of the petition. We want to open it up to other people and bring more variety and independent traders.”

He also highlighted that now is an opportune time for the return of sole traders as the government are set to introduce relief of up to £1,000 to shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments that have a rateable value of below £50,000 for 2014-15 and 2015-16 on April 1.

Many of those who have already signed the petition have left comments expressing their dismay at the continuing rise in the number of takeaways.

Shelley Latham from Levenshulme said that the area will ‘lose its identity completely’ if the current situation continues.

Other petitioners like Charlie McDonald highlighted the lack of shops in the face of the current growth of takeaways.

The worried resident commented: “For too many it’s taking over good quality shopping spaces. Why the need for all these?”

Fellow petitioner Jennie Reynolds wrote: “Let’s make the effort to get a more diverse and interesting high street that reflects the diverse nature of Levy.”

The late opening hours which have attracted anti-social behaviour problems in the area are also a cause for concern for other residents.

Warren Pilkington said: “There are already too many fast food outlets on Stockport Road. Some of them are already becoming a meeting point for anti-social behaviour in the area and we need other forms of retail to make the community of Levenshulme much more vibrant.”

Since he was elected four years ago, Cllr Hennigan has also has been working with local traders, community groups and local constituents to try and revive Levenshulme’s high street.

The results the councillor’s work are starting to be realised with a thriving weekly market hosting over forty food and drink stalls on a monthly basis.

The area also has a number of award-winning community-driven food outlets such as Trove, Isis and Pod Deli. Levenshulme is also home to Europe’s biggest Indian restaurant ‘The Nawaab’ as well as its own annual nine-day Food and Drink Festival in June.

But the councillor feels that all that hard work is falling to the wayside as the council continues to ignore the views of local residents by ‘keeping their head in the sand.’

He added: “While I will continue to champion the area’s bid to become a food lover’s Mecca, I do not want all that work to be blighted by the granting of anymore late-night takeaway licenses.”

Image courtesy of James Hennigan with thanks

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