McDonald’s: The Last Bastion Falls

Rutland is the smallest county in England. Only 17 miles long by 18 miles wide, it is land-locked, and has a population of less than 40,000.

It has just two towns of any size, Oakham and Uppingham. The most significant feature of the county is a huge artificial lake, Rutland Water. This is a nature reserve, and an important site for wildlife, especially breeding birds.

But Rutland is also famous for something else. It is the ONLY county in England that does not have a McDonald’s restaurant. The attractive historical streets of Oakham and Uppinham do offer a selection of cafes and restaurants, as well as many privately-owned traditional shops. But no fast-food outlets have ever been allowed to spoil the area.

That might all change, at a local Council meeting this evening. On a site just outside the town of Oakham, the burger giant has requested planning permission to build a 24-hour drive through restaurant. One of the larger types that have been seen here over the past couple of years. The benefits to the community are more than being able to buy some chicken nuggets at two in the morning. In an area of high unemployment, sixty new jobs will be generated, and valuable taxes paid into the local economy by the American company too.

Poorer families in the area will be able to take advantage of ‘meal deals’ and cheaper fast food, without having to drive into neighbouring counties to do so.

The population of Rutland appears to be divided by the issue. Existing cafes and restaurants will undoubtedly suffer, especially in the long term. Rubbish will be generated by thoughtless customers flinging it from car windows, or dumping it around the town. And it is inevitable that other jobs will be lost in eating establishments that cannot compete with the popularity of McDonald’s.

As I type this, it seems likely that the Town Council will approve the application tonight, and building will start. I would not deny that the town needs jobs, or that people should be able to buy a Big Mac if they want one.

But I am sad. Sad that the smallest county in my country, the only one to have never approved a McDonald’s, has finally succumbed to globalisation.

64 thoughts on “McDonald’s: The Last Bastion Falls

  1. I live in hope that it is overrun by bored teenagers without any money and the franchise owner has to close up within a couple of years of trading.
    We went to McD’s twice last year, for the convenience it offered (out on day trips) and child pressure ๐Ÿ™‚ Both times we waited more than 20 minutes and both times the order was wrong, my google reviews reflected this and I will make more use of Google maps to find a nicer place to eat in future, whilst trying to mention the word Mc so the kids dont get wind of the idea ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I may sound snobbish, but I think it just appeals to the lowest common denominator in society, and kids are brainwashed by the constant TV advertising and pathetic ‘toys’ given out. Modern parents are from a generation that grew up with McD in the 80s, so most know no different.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is sad news indeed! I love that our local town doesn’t have one, but some of the residents keep pushing for one. McDs applied for a spot near Christmas but they were declined – lets see how long that lasts! Some local residents were complaining that they had to drive 30 minutes to the next local town for a McDs (personally i dont think the food they serve is worth that drive haha, but to each their own eh?!). Even so, when I walk down our rural lanes, I still see the occasional McDs wrapper or box in the hedge, so even when its miles away their crap still gets all over the countryside -_-. Then upon returning to work at the beginning of the month, I drive past another small town, about 15-20 minutes away, and I see over the Christmas break that they have built and opened a 24 hour McDs! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Hopefully this is enough to keep the pressure off of our town. I disagree that this as an option for poorer families. I very rarely eat at McDonalds (once a year max), but when I do, I cringe at the prices, which exceed the costs of a lovely home cooked sit down meal at our local pub when we eat from their specials board before 6pm…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your situation is similar to the one in our local town, Dereham. I was part of an online group trying to oppose the building of the 24-hour McDonald’s, some years ago. Despite much protest, it was approved by the local council with almost no votes against.
      Now we have McD rubbish in all the local car parks, strewn around the country lanes, and dumped on places like the nearby nature reserve.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been out tonight, so I just checked.
      It was approved two hours ago.
      I would imagine that most jobs will go to local people, as the transport infrastructure is poor around there.
      Sad news though, Peggy.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  3. I share your sadness, Pete. My view is that people don’t have a ‘right’ to a Big Mac: if they simply can’t live without one [or similar fare of questionable nutritional value], I am confident that one would be available within a day’s drive or bus ride, and it’s not difficult to eat well for a lot less than most people spend on ready meals and takeaways. Also, the jobs might be welcome to some, but I would be surprised if a person could manage to live comfortably on the wages that that one job would pay. Still, I’m sure the money of the golden arches company will talk very loudly……… Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry to hear this. I do hope that they at least build it in a way that blends in with the surroundings. In Sedona, Arizona, it had to be terracotta (even the awful sign) to blend in with the reddish hills and adobe buildings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This makes me sad…but I also understand why some would see the benefit. From the bottom of my heart, I root for the idea of resisting such developments — especially for a small town that has done well and gone this far without it… but it feels as if it is (sadly) ultimately inevitable.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. They must have done their homework well to find the only county without a McDonald’s. Now they’ve increased the body mass index of probably half the population, perhaps they’ll leave us alone and bugger off somewhere else when the new outlet is approved, as I’m sure it will be. I really don’t think we need yet another McDonald’s, but I suppose it brings employment to the locals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They have applied many times before, since buying the land. (Apparently)
      But the council are now saying that the area needs the jobs and revenue.
      I’m not so sure a burger chain is the answer, but my reasons are primarily nostalgic.
      It would have made a great ‘Ealing Comedy’, in the heyday of that film studio. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. When McDonalds wanted to come to Freeport, Maine (home of L.L. Bean) it was with restrictions. No Golden Arches. The restaurant is housed in a 150 year old home with simple signage out front. There were also restrictions about not using styrofoam containers (this was a long time ago). They complied.

    One of the worst things I ever saw was in Interlaken, Switzerland. A big loud and obnoxious Hooters on the main road. It destroyed an otherwise beautiful place.

    I hope Rutland holds out. Make them keep with the architecture of the place and not their gaudy awfulness.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. (1) Just noticed there’s a town called Peterborough to the east of Rutland in Cambridgeshire. Had you opted to live there, would you have named your blog peterboroughpete?
    (2) Years from now, after Harry and Meghan have carved out a life across The Pond, will their son seek work at McDonald’s? The Golden Arches might be perfect for Archie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Peterborough is a large city in the east of England, (pop. 200,000) part of Cambridgeshire. It’s not a place I would ever want to live, so there is no danger of my blog name changing. ๐Ÿ™‚
      As for Archie in Canada, I suspect he will never have to do a day’s work, unless he wants to.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, I was raised in a small, rural community (We were the county seat, a little over 6,000 people) and when I was a teenager, the evil giant corporation of that day, (now defunct) Kmart, came to town, it was gloom and doom and despair and misery. Or progress. Depending on who you listened to. That was almost 40 years ago. Since then the population has grown to 8,000 plus. The downtown tourist traps are still as quaint and charming as they ever were and now there is Walmart, McDonalds and a few others. When I went to visit, the people were all still the same, however. I don’t know. I’m sorry it makes you sad, it kind of makes me sad, but it is the slow, inexorable movement of time. The young people there can’t imagine the town not having any of those things and when they are finally replaced by something else, these young people will likely wax nostalgic for the days they could get a quick hamburger for a dollar. Maybe I will make a post about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know you are right, Herb. What you say makes perfect sense, and I have lived long enough to be aware of many changes that I have come to accept.
      But one tiny county resisted, and I liked that idea. It reminded me of an old England, and one that has all but disappeared.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sorry to hear that McDonalds will spoil the landscape of this charming county Pete. In some towns in the U.S. they will try to blend in with the current architecture so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. I admit to sometimes frequenting the fast food chain as it’s ubiquitous here. I almost always regret the choice afterwards – except for the hot fudge sundaes which never disappoint.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know what you mean, Mary. A genuine training and career opportunity would have been a better idea. Or perhaps opening a college of some kind? That would provide jobs for staff, and learning opportunities for locals who need work.
      (Many McDonald’s contracts are ‘no hours’. Staff who are not required during quiet periods are sent home without pay for the hours they are not needed. I know this because the son of a dog-walking friend works in the drive-thru in Dereham. And I want them to spell it properly. ‘Through’! )
      Burgers and such foods are known to contribute to childhood obesity, and now there will not be one place in England where they are not easily available 24/7.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. It’s a universal issue Pete…when I went to the Cannes Film Festival, I always hated seeing the local kids eating at the one McDonalds that sat in the midst of the town’s natural splendor…as more traditional residents hurried by carrying their fresh baguette home…here in the US, obesity is tied to fast food – which is also CHEAP FOOD – and sometimes the only food nearby, as they have “food deserts” here, meaning no supermarkets within miles…McDonalds has an ad campaign here where they call themselves “America’s Best First Job.” That is true as well – they create jobs in those areas that do not have them, low paying jobs as they are…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. As you point out, they are paying jobs in an area of high unemployment…Im always reminded of the scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life” where Jimmy Stewart tells his rich friend to open his factory in town, because there’s an old abandoned factory and lots of workers who need jobs…and I’m reading Paul Theroux’s new book about Mexico – where hundreds of factories sit on the edge of the US/Mexico border and their workers make 1/10th the salary to do the exact same job….

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw a report about it on BBC News 24 today, and it made me come over all nostalgic.
      Despite the jobs, I am sure the small town will live to regret that intrusion.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

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