COUNCIL bosses have ruled out introducing a “fat tax” to stop too many takeaways springing up across the Rochford district.

Planning officers at the authority had considered introducing a £1,000 levy on new fast food shops to fund healthy eating campaigns – and act as a deterrent to people thinking of setting up a similar business.

However, councillors shelved the plan because they believed it would be harmful to the district’s fragile economy.

Keith Hudson, Tory councillor responsible for planning, said: “I don’t think we want to go down the route of taxing businesses like that, because it might make the area unattractive to potential investors.

“Having said that, the council does have a policy of preventing too many of one type of shop and it is something we should look to actively enforce.

“However, I do not think we need to have a fat tax to achieve that. It is more down to us as councillors to enforce it rigorously.”

Planning officers brought up the idea of the tax following the latest application for a new takeaway in the empty 1st Stop car showroom, in West Street, Rochford.

The application was turned down at last night’s development control meeting.

There are already 15 fast food outlets and restaurants in Rochford town centre, including six in West Street.

The £1,000 levy was the brainchild of Oldham Council, which introduced it last month, to limit the number of new takeaways in the town and cut obesity levels.

Yvonne Tessin, who owns West Street jewellery shop Rio, and also lives in the road, said there could be similar problems in Rochford if no action was taken to prevent more takeaways being opened.

She said: “It’s not good for the look of the town to have too many takeaways.

“We need some nice, swish wine bars to brighten it up.

“I think we have already got enough takeaways.”

Lorraine Isitt, who works at and lives near Craft Cottage in West Street, added: “The litter and the noise from the kids is bad enough at the moment.

There are too many takeaways and I do not think another one is needed.”

Despite considering the tax, planning officers decided problems in Oldham were unlikely to be replicated in Rochford, Rayleigh and Hockley.