I am sure you may have read elsewhere that last week Clyde "went national" in the press to defend the stance of his council as they "raided" an Afro Caribbean restaurant, the "Bamboo Joint"in Leytonstone High Street.
7 Police officers in stab vests and 3 councils officials paid an early morning visit to this most dangerous of establishments and ordered it's owners to close within three days.
Their crime? well having reapplied for planning permission after a refit and despite having already traded for 3 years in the premises, they fell foul of the Councils new by law of selling "junk food" within 400 metres of a school or 200 metres of a park. The "junk food" they sell includes stewed cabbage, spinach, aki and salt fish, steamed fish, ox tail, soups, rice and peas, yam and bananas, curried goat and curried chicken and of course jerk chicken. Nothing is deep fried.
As part of the councils war on child obesity this "big brother" attitude towards local families means that the restaurant will now close , it's staff will be made redundant and it's owners business will go to the wall. . So whats Clyde's view? any chance of a change of heart or an acknowledgement that in a time of recession local jobs might be worth protecting? No chance, he just told the news crews that" 'This fast food outlet has not got planning permission and has absolutely no chance of getting it, because of its proximity to a park and a school, so we're closing it down." What a hero, I hope he is thoroughly proud of himself.
The restaurant has had problems in the past with it's Hygiene certificate, however the recent refit brought the standard up to the Councils requirements, So for them to sit back and allow the owners to invest in bringing the restuarant up to standard and then close it under this ridiculous bylaw is just cruel and unnecasary.
So will the children of Waltham Forest be any safer or healthier? No of course not. The primary school children Clyde is so keen to protect are not allowed out at Lunchtimes anyway, but can still buy full fat ice cream from the van outside the school gates at hometime, or crisps and chocalate bars from the local shops.
Like children all over Britain their obesity risk has more to do with the fats in processed foods eaten at home, and maybe a lack of exercise than it does in sourcing illicit rice and peas from the Bamboo Joint. And considering the closed down restaurant is surrounded by Pizza Parlours, Burger joints and Fish and Chip Shops the Council's policy is pointless.
Furthermore it is damaging the reputation of Local Government, which should be there to educate and provide for local communities, before turning to it's regulatory powers and authority to penalise.
But this story is growing and growing, and so is the resistance. The local Afro Caribbean community are, as you would expect, outraged at this attack on their culture and on a fellow member of the community. They have campaigned outside the store as well as recording "You Tube" protest videos against the Council such as the one below. They also believe their community has been victimised and have wondered if the Council would have acted in the same heavy handed way if the shop was owned by MacDonald's or one of the other multi national chains? They describe our Clyde as an opportunist, who is out of touch with the community, and who could argue?
So what next? Well I for one will be making sure that every restaurant owner in Northampton knows exactly where Mr Loake's stands in respect of supporting local business, just in case he trys to promote his Barmy scheme here. And considering that Northampton has more Parks and Open Spaces than any other District Council area and that most of the restaurants and take aways on the town's arterial routes are within 400m of a local school or park then he will be a busy man.
But one last thought on this whole sorry affair, who gave the permission for seven police officers to be involved in this over the top reactionary farce in the first place? and was it a good use of their time? It reminds me of the time I got stopped at Chigao airport and searched and cautioned by the USA national fruit police for carrying an unlicenced apple!
Watch out Northampton, Big Brother has his eye on you, and no Balti Hut is safe.