Sutton’s LibDems make a meal out of KFC planning decision

BELLE MONT threw a late shift last night at Sutton Council, and couldn’t even get a takeaway on the way home

Cheam Village, the epitome of Surrey suburban quaintness, is not ready for a KFC. With or without its supplies of chicken.

Cheam villagers prefer its Waitrose and Wildwood. The busy road junction and faded mock-Tudorbethan retail centre, it is felt, is a cut above Tony Hancock’s East Cheam. And it’s definitely superior to North Cheam.

Last night’s Sutton Council planning meeting brought high drama in front of an audience of more than 200 residents distressed by the prospect of Colonel Sanders’ Finger Lickin’ Good chicken reaching the streets of Cheam – and all that regardless of KFC’s recent “challenges” – Kentucky Fried no-chicken, thanks to shortcomings of new delivery partner DHL.

Sutton holds its planning meetings near the locations of its planning applications, encouraging council politicians to play up to a local audience on controversial proposals. That temptation for hyperbole gets even greater when there are just 10 weeks to local election day.

Cheam ward is a LibDem-Tory marginal with Mary Burstow, the wife of the former LibDem MP Paul Burstow, topping the poll in 2014’s elections ahead of two elected Tories. Labour? They had their second lowest vote share in the whole of Greater London last time.

More work for Veolia in Sutton, as Cllr Tony Shields uses gesture politics to demonstrate what KFC could bring to Cheam’s less-than-mean streets

The meeting was typified by theatrical gesture, overblown claims and typical Liberal Democrat multi-faceted politics.

Labour activisits and candidates – the party currently has no councillors in Sutton – sat with the audience.

Tory councillor Tony Shields went for the grand gesture, throwing his KFC takeaway to the floor to show what the litter might look like out on the pavement. With #SuttonBinShame still being a sore  point with locals, there were some convinced that Shields’ bit of fly-tipping might still be there this morning.

There were outlandish claims that KFC brings crime with it. There were concerns, too, that KFC brought smells, parking problems and delivery worries… As if Col Sanders hasn’t got enough worries about deliveries at the moment.

The application for Cheam’s first fried chicken takeaway shop had been delivered to the planning committee with the firm recommendation for approval from council staff.

But Burstow and her LibDem colleagues on the committee showed quite how conveniently “flexible” they can be when their council allowances are at stake. The plans were rejected 9-0 by the LibDem and Tory councillors, demonstrating that Sutton’s LibDems, while being in favour of incineration, are firmly against frying.

The planning committee decision was reminiscent of the time that that other multi-national giant of fast food, McDonald’s, want to build a drive-through takeaway at the corner of Blenheim Gardens in Wallington. That proved to be far too close to the home of constituency MP Tom Brake, and was chucked out, too.

With election day May 3 firmly marked on her calendar, Burstow made political capital out of the committee outcome: “I am so glad that councillors rejected the planning applications for a KFC in Cheam Village last night. Main reasons for rejection were parking, a lack of delivery information and crime. Well done to the 300+ Cheam residents who came, to hear the application and make their views clear.”

If our loyal reader in Cheam is desperate for a Louisville special, then they need to travel to Worcester Park, Rose Hill or go really low-rent and visit Sutton High Street.

But make sure that they’ve got their chicken in before you travel…

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