McDonald’s is finally on its way to England’s smallest county, but residents are far from happy.
The restaurant giant has submitted plans to open a restaurant in the market town of Oakham, in the county of Rutland, in the East Midlands.
If construction goes ahead, it would be the first branch of the fast-food chain to open in Rutland, which has a population of just under 40,000 people.
Although Oakham’s mayor supports the plans, Rutland County Council has not yet decided what to recommend to its councillors, the BBC reported.
Many residents are vehemently opposed to having those famous golden arches lighting up their town.
More than 50 people have made official complaints about the plan, with one submitting the comment: “I’m proud that Rutland is the only county not to have a McDonald's."
Last month, it was claimed that McDonald’s menus have been “tricking” people into buying healthier options.
David Taylor, 39, from Oakham, said: "For years we've proudly boasted that we're the only county in England without a McDonald's.
"It’s a shame the council have bowed to the big corporations. It doesn't suit our town and our way of living. It will be an eyesore and attract the wrong sort of people.
"I guarantee once it opens, we'll have a KFC and a Burger King next. I worry for our children's health as a result."
Sandra Wells, 57, who has lived in the county all her life, told the BBC: "It's disgusting – Oakham is not the place for it. I don't like fast food and there are too many McDonald’s.”
McDonald’s will ‘bring riff-raff’
Gym owner Jade Smith, 35, fears it will “open up the doors” for other fast-food chains and “kill off” the town.
“Our beautiful town doesn't need a McDonald’s,” she said.
Gaz Ali, manager of Indian takeaway Eastern Delights, said: "It's such a small town to have a McDonald’s.
“And at the end of the day it's going to bring riff-raff."
McDonald’s has about 1,300 restaurants across the UK, but has never managed to open one in Rutland.
It wants to build one near Lands End Way in Oakham, close to a bypass that was opened 10 years ago.
The site already has a large Aldi supermarket and a BP garage with an M&S Simply Food shop.
The nearest McDonald’s to Oakham is currently nine miles away in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.
Not everyone is angry at the prospect of a McDonald’s in the town.
Mother-of-two Stephanie Simmons, 41, said McDonald’s is “a bit of a treat" for her children and it would be “great to have one on the doorstep”.
Caroline Aston, who has lived in the county all her life, said: "Rutland has changed immensely – when I was a girl, I could have had a picnic sitting in the middle of the high street.
“But it's the march of time. It remains a lovely place to live and I think the people will take to Big Macs.”
McDonald’s jobs ‘would be helpful’
Oakham mayor David Romney says the new restaurant could create up to 65 jobs and lift the town out of the “dark ages”.
He said: "Do you want to end up with a very sleepy town with shops closed?"
Waitress Abi Pepperdine, 19, said: “People go away for university but when they come back, there's nothing here. The jobs McDonald's would bring would be helpful.”
A spokesman for McDonald’s said: "We fully understand the historic nature of the town centre which has no suitable sites for our proposal.
"We believe locating the restaurant on the outskirts of town, near the A606, is the most beneficial and appropriate location."