A RADICAL move is being put forward to ban takeaways from opening anywhere near Swindon schools.

In a bid to cut the number of overweight children in the town, one councillor is to table a motion calling for no new fast-food outlets to be allowed to open within a quarter of mile of schools.

The plan would help keep children away from temptation and has the support of a prominent doctor, but one businessman has condemned it as a sign of a Nanny State.

Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Nythe), is to propose at the planning committee meeting tomorrow that a new policy be adopted to curb bad eating habits at an early age.

He said: “The idea would be for officers to come up with a policy that would say: you can’t have that class of shop within a quarter of a mile of a school.

“It’s something to be debated. It’s not certain. But why don’t we have an open debate about these kind of approaches? We’re taking child obesity seriously.

“If officers can make this work, we’d have to do a consultation with local residents to see if this is something they would want to take place.”

The aim, if the planning committee agrees to back him, is to get officers to report back on the scheme by the new year.

He also said he would like Fionuala Foley (Con, Old Town and Lawn), Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee chairman, to write to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver to ask what it would take to get their restaurants to move into Swindon, and possibly offer health food courses to pupils.

Dr Peter Swinyard, 55, chairman of the Family Doctor Association, and practicing at Phoenix Surgery in Toothill, said: “From a medical point of view, clearly it’s important children do get brought up on a really good diet.

“If they’re stuffing themselves on fast food, I don’t think it’s the ideal thing to eat. I think from a medical point of view it would certainly be a welcome move.”

But Chris Watts, deputy head of Swindon’s Federation of Small Businesses, of Dunsford Close, said: “It’s a bit Draconian. People can make their own minds up about whether to go to these places or not.

“My gut reaction is every application has to be taken on its own merits. I don’t think it’s the root cause of these problems. We need to look more into education for kids rather than going out to these businesses.

“It’s almost going back to a Nanny State.”

The planning meeting is to be held at 6pm at the Civic Offices.