25. Community Activists Outsit McDonald’s

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

A-Infos New Service
McLibel Support Campaign
Title: Residents defeat McDonald’s after mammoth 552-day occupation

Faculty Evaluator: Phil McGough, Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Stephen Hayth, Brian Baptista, Deanna Battaglia

On Sunday, December 13, 1998, local residents of Hinchley Wood, England, occupied the parking lot of their local pub to prevent McDonald’s from building on the site. Their 24-hours-a-day sit-in campaign lasted 18 months, received national publicity, and galvanized community support against McDonald’s. The community organized to become Residents Against McDonald’s (RAM). RAM held numerous large public meetings in protest, set up marches, and delivered newsletters door to door throughout the community. Their campaign forced McDonald’s onto the defensive, stopping all work on the site.

RAM exposed how local planning laws allow companies to steamroll over the wishes of communities, ignoring expressed concerns over the quality of local lives and environment. Profiteering business chains have used planning law loopholes to continue to invade neighborhoods, often replacing green spaces and local facilities with their standardized, mediocre products.

Faced with widespread community-based opposition to the building of new restaurants throughout England, McDonald’s tactics seem to favor the purchase of pubs precisely because of the national A-3 planning guidelines, which enable it to avoid the usual local planning applications and citizen objections. When McDonald’s leases or purchases neighborhood pubs to avoid the usual local planning applications and guidelines, local residents become outraged and feel compelled to resist.

This time the residents were successful. After RAM’s incredible 552-day continuous occupation, McDonald’s threw in the towel and handed back the lease on the pub to the original owners. RAM celebrated a historic victory. Hinchley Wood residents can now join the growing list of places in which local communities have successfully defended themselves against huge controlling corporations.

RAM is now conducting a national survey of local planning departments throughout England about the issue of fast food units replacing local pubs. The United Kingdom Government Department of Transport and Regions has announced a review of the A-3 laws.