Adverts for fast food and fizzy drinks could be banned at bus stops in Swindon

A policy which would stop businesses advertising high sugar, high fat and high salt-content food and drink at shelters across the town will be put to the ruling cabinet at Swindon Borough Council.

Members of the Combatting Inequality policy formulation committee agreed unanimously to put a fully worked-up policy to the cabinet in June following a special task and finish group meeting on the issue last week.

The authority’s director of publlc health Steve Maddern said: “After the last committee meeting there were questions from Councillor Howarth about how long it took to put into action in Bristol.”

He told the committee from approval to implementation in Bristol took a year, but added: “That was a particular issue with Bristol’s procurement programme, as we are at a different stage in our procurement process it may be different here.”

Dr Maddern said that the policy was being driven by public health officer Lewis Bird and that he would be in contact with parish councils throughout the borough to see if they wanted to adopt a similar policy, and added: “The bus stops the parishes are responsible for are slightly different and have less space than the ones the borough is responsible for, but yes, Lewis Bird wil be talking to the parish councils.”

Members of the committee were keen to see it go forward with some hoping it might go further.

Councillor Brian Ford said: “I know South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland is concerned about this as well, and I have passed his comments on to the committee and to the public health team.

“I don’t think efforts on this should be just confined to this council and we should try to fold in as many people as possible on this – because this is an important thing to do.

And councillor Lawrence Elliott added: ”I’m passionate about this. The task and finish group meeting was excellent.

“The data shows that the bus routes and shelters where this advertising happens are concentrated in areas of deprivation, areas of poorer nutrition.

"This is a chance to do something that could make a difference to a lot of residents and for the better.”

A full policy paper will be drawn up by Mr Bird and put to the cabinet at its June meeting for a decision on whether to proceed.

Dr Maddern said: “I know from initial conversations that cabinet is keen to see this happen.”