Shopkeepers have slammed ‘daft’ proposal to remove chocolates and sweets from tempting locations.

by NADEEM BADSHAH SHOP owners have criticised plans to ban retailers from placing chocolate bars and sweets in tempting locations to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis. The government intends to ban foods high in fat, salt and sugar from key positions in stores, such as the ends of aisles and near checkout counters. And doctors from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health want the ban to include corner shops and petrol stations. But shopkeepers have called the plans “daft”, warning that it will harm their trade and have little impact in addressing the obesity problem. Gurcharan Harrad, owner of Village News in Birmingham, told Eastern Eye: “It will have a lot of impact [on us]. People come in for chocolates and sweets. They just want to close all the little stores down, supermarkets can cope. “You cannot stop school kids buying chocolates and sweets. You have to put them by the till to keep an eye on them. “If you say, ‘only one or two kids in the shop at a time’, they will not come. “If you put the sweets at the back of the shop you have to follow them. It is political madness.” Over one third of children in their final year of primary school in England are overweight or obese, figures from the national child measurement programme show. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said the restrictions needed to be comprehensive, but admitted that “it may be more difficult for small outlets to apply the restrictions”. Ajit Atwal, who runs a petrol station in Derbyshire, told Eastern Eye: “No matter where you put them, people are going to buy them. Kids and sweets go hand in hand. “It’s a bit daft. You can get a burger and chips for 99p, that’s where the problem lies, the takeaways, which are a bigger contributory factor than chocolate. For us, when our parents said no that was it. It’s different now. Kids are free to do what they want. “People are going to buy sweets regardless, along with cigarettes and fizzy drinks where the price has been put up with the sugar tax.” The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has also expressed concerns over the move. The FSB’s national chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “We welcome the government’s continued efforts to tackle childhood obesity and create a healthier nation – and small businesses are keen to support this aim. “But there must be consideration for the fact that not all small firms will be able to easily change their shop layouts. “The size and layout of some businesses and convenience stores prevents them from making alterations. “This is on top of the additional costs that these changes could impose.” “The government has recognised in its recent consultation that microbusinesses could be exempt from being forced to make major changes due to size and cost limitations. This should also be extended to other small firms, especially those with a size limitation,” Cherry added. “Small firms want to help clamp down on the obesity crisis, but they need to be supported too.” A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said it would consider all responses to its consultation “before publishing our proposals later this year”.