Compromise over Hampstead McDonald’s licence

AFTER an hour long David and Goliath-style battle with a McDonald’s solicitor in last week’s licensing panel, pint-sized councillor Linda Chung has triumphed, extracting a string of conditions from the chain in a bid to keep Hampstead High Street clean and quiet.

Cllr Chung saw red when the restaurant applied to extend its licence to midnight every night of the week. Along with residents, she already had a string of concerns with the venue over poor rubbish collecting and anti-social behaviour.

After an hour of discussions the licensing committee decided on a compromise – McDonald’s could open until midnight on a Saturday, until 11.30pm Monday to Thursday and until 11pm on Sundays.

As part of the deal McDonald’s has been forced to increase its litter collections around the site from three to six patrols daily and their solicitor also promised to look into anti-social behaviour issues.

Cllr Chung, who has offices off Hampstead High Street and has walked past the restaurant site for 30 years, said she was happy with the outcome.

She said: “I had a right going over with their solicitor at the licensing panel because I wanted them to clarify how they were going to deal with the issues residents had raised in the past.

“The best thing is that a communication channel has been opened which we have been trying to achieve for years. I wanted to be clear that while they do provide some service to local residents they are seen as this big multi-national company that is not at all part of the community they are in.”

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The application for an extension of hours received several objections from local residents.

William Welbank, chairman of the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood Panel, wrote to the council to say that extending the hours would increase crime and disorder at a time when safer neighbourhood policing would be cut by 20 per cent over five years.

Lynette Christina who lives near the restaurant, finds the anti-social behaviour “disturbing” and “at times frightening”.

Farokh Khorooshi, who campaigned against the extension of hours, said he would rather the licence had not been granted at all but was pleased that conditions were imposed: “Well done Linda. Anyone who is fighting for cleaner streets in Hampstead should be commended,” he said.

“What matters now is to keep up the enforcement – and that is the responsibility not just of the council but of councillors, council workers and local residents.

“There is no point having these conditions if they are not adhered to – if people see the regulations being broken they should report it to the council so they can do something about it.”