Plans for late-night McDonald's licence 'would attract undesirables'

Barrhead residents have objected to plans to allow the fast food restaurant to open from 11pm through to 5am.

Barrhead residents object to McDonald’s late hours license bid over anti-social behaviour concerns iStock

Residents living near Barrhead’s new McDonald’s are objecting to a bid to open the fast food restaurant through the night due to anti-social behaviour fears.

Franchisee Jim McLean has asked East Renfrewshire Council for a late hours catering licence, but a decision has been delayed to allow councillors to visit the site.

In a fractious licensing meeting, one neighbour said plans to keep the Bowerwalls Place premises and drive thru open from 11pm to 5am would attract “undesirables”.

Cllr David Macdonald questioned Mr McLean on the number of drunk people who would use the restaurant on their way home from nights out, as he had previously seen similar situations “get out of hand”.

Mr McLean, of JE Restaurants Ltd, who runs several McDonald’s franchises, including at Braehead and Silverburn, offered to work with neighbours to address concerns.

“I’m in the business of making burgers but one of the key things I always try to do is build relationships with local residents,” he told the committee.

The applicant also said he would be “comfortable” with late hours drive thru and delivery only if it “took much of the sting out of what people are expecting here”.

Council officials received 18 letters of objection to the application, raising concerns over “undue public nuisance and threat to public order and safety arising from night-time custom”. Police Scotland did not object to the licence bid.

A solicitor for Mr McLean said his client has “excellent experience in the successful operation of local restaurants and late hours catering”.

He said the Barrhead premises, which opened in July, has traded “without incident” and the location “is not one which would attract large groups of individuals or foot traffic from people leaving pubs or clubs”.

A security system helps to keep staff safe, the solicitor added, with a button they can press to call for help if anti-social behaviour occurs.

Kevin Hughes, a retired firefighter who spoke on behalf of the objectors, said that towards the end of his time in the fire service, he had attended “quite a number of incidents” of “people coming to and from 24-hour McDonald’s”.

“One of them was four cars getting set on fire and one of them was a petrol bombing in the street across the road from it,” he added.

Cllr Edlin said that was “irrelevant” to Barrhead but Mr Hughes added he had “seen quite a number of traits when it comes to fire related anti-social behaviour”.

Cllr Macdonald said he had concerns about the number of people “under the influence of alcohol” using the McDonald’s in private hires or taxis “on their way home from Glasgow”.

Mr McLean said any anti-social behaviour “resulting from that specifically, if it happens at all, it’s minimal”.

Cllr Macdonald, a former private hire driver, said: “I very often took people to McDonald’s restaurants on their way home. Very often my passengers would be exceptionally drunk and wanting to stop off at McDonald’s.

“There were, on a few occasions, situations that would arise due to the condition of the passengers where things would potentially get out of hand in terms of their state of drunkenness.”

Cllr Macdonald also asked Police Scotland whether it would be “fair to suggest the lack of objection” would be “perhaps motivated by the fact it would be probably a welcome resource for those working on the night shift in Barrhead?”.

An officer admitted police “use facilities such as that” but added: “I would suggest that it wouldn’t be a reason for the police not to object so they could get a late night takeaway.”

Mr Hughes said McDonald’s only wanted to open late to “increase the profits”.

Cllr Edlin responded: “It is McDonald’s right to make a profit. If people want to come in there and buy a hamburger at two in the morning and they make a profit, it is up to the customer whether they pay it or not.”

At one point in the meeting, Cllr Edlin said: “I heard one of the ladies behind me [in the public gallery] saying that they had spoken to a councillor that was a member of this committee that said they would not get a fair hearing.”

He added he felt “very aggrieved” about the “alleged comments” and the hearing would be “very fair and very carefully administered by independent staff”.

Cllr Edlin later asked whether people in the gallery were “happy they have had their say” to which someone replied “no”.

Another objector, James McKeown, then raised concerns about his “privacy” as he is “24 metres from the big McDonald’s light that is on constantly”.

Mr McLean said an issue with the electrics had taken “us a little while to sort” and offered “to switch that off earlier because it’s an inconvenience to you”.

Mr McKeown later told the committee he believed the late licence would “attract the undesirables in Barrhead”.

After deliberations, councillors agreed to postpone the decision for a site visit, which is expected to take place on Friday. The licence application will go back before the committee on October 3.

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