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A Labour government would ban fast food outlets near schools if it wins the general election, as part of an “ambitious” clampdown on ultra-processed and HFSS foods.

Speaking to The Times over the weekend, ahead of the publication of the party’s manifesto on Thursday, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Labour would legislate to give local authorities more powers to block planning applications.

“We have seen KFC taking the mick and dragging councils through the courts so they can pump fried chicken out by school gates,” he said.

“That doesn’t tell me this is a nation that’s taking obesity seriously.”

Supermarket bosses have been calling on the next government to focus their public health action on the fast food sector.

However, Streeting also said he was “very closely” following the debate on ultra-processed foods and was having “quiet conversations” with the food industry to build a “coalition of the willing within the food and drink industry so that we can deliver real improvements. So that we can say that the healthy option is the affordable option.”

Last month, food industry bosses told The Grocer they believed Labour was preparing to revive proposals in Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy if it wins the election, raising the prospect of a wave of taxes on HFSS foods.

Dimbleby has also called for a complete ban on advertising of UPF products.

In February, Streeting signalled his intention by warning he would “steamroller” the food and drink industry with measures to tackle HFSS foods and The Grocer reported last month that this was expected to be extended to cover UPFs as well.

His new comments were welcomed by health campaign groups.

“Child health cannot wait, and the UK public want to see urgent action,” said Obesity Health Alliance director Katharine Jenner.

“With the manifestos coming out this week, we hope to see a race to the top on clear commitments for health improvement, and that positive promises are matched by practical plans for delivery. We are asking all parties to prioritise child health, to build on what works, and to empower local communities. It should be easy for everyone to eat healthily, especially children. It isn’t.”

A KFC spokesman said: “We support the idea of national guidance to councils. There should be consistent rules across the country on where takeaways can be opened if there is a school in the area.

”This would make it really clear to all restaurant businesses where they would be welcome in local communities. Every food and drink outlet on the high street has a role to play in helping to create thriving, diverse and healthy food environments.

”We take our role as a business in the UK extremely seriously and we believe we have a positive long-term contribution to make in every community we’re in.”