Ed Balls really has it in for certain types of small business, which is precisely what you want to hear during a recession. He's not happy about children being allowed to leave school and buy food from takeaway shops during their lunch breaks. He will say to the Healthy Eating in Schools Conference:
"We’ve made huge progress on school food but what goes on outside the school gates is as important as what happens inside. Schools, parents and local authorities all need to be working together to make sure our children and teenagers get the kind of healthy food that will set them up for success in life.”
He will praise the actions of (Labour and Lib Dem run) Waltham Forest Council, who have banned takeaway shops from being opened within 400 yards of schools or youth clubs. He will also suggest that teachers ban pupils from leaving school grounds during their lunch breaks.
There are many reasons why this suggestion is ridiculous. First of all, it's complete nannying, which I hate anyway. Secondly, it will really annoy the kids, and give them yet more reasons to misbehave. Thirdly, if he and this council really think kids won't walk an extra 400 yards to get a portion of chips or a kebab then they do not live in the real world. I remember when I was at school doing precisely this for 2 or 3 days a week; those when the school kitchen was serving a variant of gruel for lunch. And fourthly, surely all this does is deny small businesses the locations they need to succeed? Never mind limiting the number of kids, which this plan won't do anyway; it will most likely move the shops to the ends of roads, away from town centres, and away from precisely the sort of customers - such as passer-by traffic from pubs -that they need to stay in business.