Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Oldham weighs in with fat tax
Can we just be absolutely clear about something here? Councillors don’t want to ‘slap a fat tax’ on anything... the meddlesome, unelected council officers do. I’ve never met a councillor of any political hue who ever had an original policy thought in their life. The vast majority of ‘initiatives’ that come from local councils are dreamed up by ambitious council officers anxious to be the first to introduce triple roundabouts, gay maths lessons, healthy eating programmes or any other fashionable nonsense that happens to take their fancy or will give them a step up to the next rung of the career ladder.
Anyway, back to the local council in Oldham, a town in northwest England, where the local council is reported to be considering charging takeaways a levy of £1,000 a year, which the council claims will go towards healthy eating initiatives. In other words, as local council budgets are cut, the local nomenklatura who run our councils are desperately looking for ways to stop their empires from being cut back. There must be hundreds of five-a-day coordinators and diversity champions quaking in their boots right now. Their bosses will be most upset at the prospect of losing staff; in the world of local government, having your department downsized is worse than having your private parts cut off.
Apparently not all food outlets will fall foul of the tax as the council is considering exemptions for takeaways that serve healthy options such as ‘smoothies’. Obviously, the town hall gauleiters don’t realise how much sugar, flavourings and other crap reside in the average smoothie. I doubt very much if any obese residents living in Oldham need fortifying with a smoothie.
This isn’t the first time that a local authority has tried to enforce healthy eating. Last year a number of councils distributed new salt dispensers to their local chippies. These new shakers have fewer pouring holes and therefore deliver less salt than the conventional shakers. This concern for our health is all very touching but it might be an idea if the jobsworths made sure our bins were emptied regularly and that local rat populations were brought under control before they turn their attention to salt and fat levels in our diet.
Frankly, the foodie in me doesn’t really care if these proposals to tax takeaways serving lard and other vile food are introduced. However, the libertarian in me certainly does. This Orwellian nudging and interference in our food choices is no business of local councils.