McDonald's to open through night despite local objections

The controversial bid will go ahead, East Renfrewshire Council said.

Barrhead McDonald’s to open through night despite local objections, East Renfrewshire Council says iStock

A controversial bid to allow Barrhead’s new McDonald’s to open through the night has been granted, despite residents fearing it could attract “undesirables”.

Franchisee Jim McLean asked East Renfrewshire Council for a late-hours catering licence but councillors delayed making a decision in September following objections from neighbours.

After visiting the site, the licensing committee voted narrowly in favour of approving the application on Tuesday, which means the Bowerwalls Place restaurant and drive-thru will be able to open from 11pm until 5am.

Councillor Paul Edlin, Conservative, and Provost Mary Montague, Labour, backed the bid, while independent councillor David Macdonald opposed it.

At the initial meeting, one neighbour said he believed the licence would “attract the undesirables in Barrhead” while Kevin Hughes, who spoke on behalf of the objectors, said he had videos of McDonald’s staff flouting planning obligations by allowing him to use an outdoor area after 10pm.

Hughes, a retired firefighter, also said he had attended “quite a number of incidents” involving “people coming to and from 24-hour McDonald’s”, including “four cars getting set on fire”.

Overall, the council received 18 letters of objection to the licence application over the potential for “undue public nuisance”. However, Police Scotland did not object and told the committee there was no evidence of anti-social behaviour in “that location”.

Provost Montague said residents believed other “incidents in the Barrhead area of anti-social behaviour” could “transfer via pedestrian customers” to the McDonald’s.

McLean said managers are trained in how to deal with anti-social behaviour, there is a safety button for staff and, in exceptional circumstances, security guards are employed.

He added he wanted to be a “good neighbour” and, if there were anti-social behaviour issues, he would be willing to close the restaurant and offer delivery and drive-thru only.

A council official said the licence “would be granted for a year” initially, and could then be reconsidered by the committee. He added: “If there were incidents in the intervening period, licensing legislation does allow you to bring matters back to the committee at an earlier stage.”

Provost Montague decided to back Edlin’s motion to approve the licence due to the possibility of a review, the police’s input and McLean’s “assurance that he is going to do everything he can to make sure there is not the anti-social behaviour that the residents living opposite fear”.

Edlin, who chaired the committee, said he believed McLean, of JE Restaurants Ltd, which runs several McDonald’s franchises, including at Braehead and Silverburn, is a “competent operator”.

“I am satisfied this restaurant is as unlikely to have problems in relation to public order and bad behaviour in the middle of the night as I can be in any circumstances,” he added.

However, Macdonald said the “representative of the objectors presented a very valid case for the argument to reject the application.

“I feel that the possibility of consistent anti-social behaviour in this area is, in my view, very founded,” he added. “I also have issues with how it will affect policing resources within the local area, which are already at breaking point.”

Montague was concerned “about the assumption that the police are at breaking point” and added the police “have said they don’t have any concerns”.

A police officer said they could only present the facts in relation to the application. “Resourcing is a separate issue in relation to policing,” he added.

“Whilst every public organisation is struggling just now in terms of resourcing, we do our best to ensure that we react to the concerns of the community and we will continue to do that.”

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