A survey by Great Bean Bags this week claimed the town has the most fast food restaurants per head of population in the whole of Scotland, and dubbed Galashiels the “Greggs capital of the UK”.
But there are flaws to the workings behind that title and town councillors have been quick to condemn the potential damage such a slogan could put on the town.
Councillor Andy Anderson suggested the study is more like an April Fools’ Day joke than a report meriting serious consideration.
He said: “From the information in this apparent study, apparently we have two McDonald’s, five Greggs and one Domino’s. I would have thought that publication on April 1 would have been more appropriate.
“This appears to be a marketing campaign in rather poor taste when there are serious health concerns affecting most areas of the UK – a list of towns with number of fast-food outlets per head of population is not a measure of good or bad health, particularly when they cannot even get the numbers correct.
“Perhaps they should stick to selling beanbags?”
He added: “On a more serious note, I have spent many years in editing and publishing real research for most of the major publishers and this appears to be another example of faux research that arrives at a conclusion that is not backed up with any facts and presents spurious incorrect data to arrive at that conclusion and should not to be taken seriously. I would hope that it would be seen as the joke it is.”
Councillor Euan Jardine accused the study of trying to “demonise” the town.
He said: “I do not believe that just because we have a couple of fast-food restaurants in Galashiels that we are the second most unhealthy place in the UK.
“The report I am sure doesn’t take into consideration that Galashiels is a rural hub town. These restaurants serve the whole of the Scottish Borders population not just Galashiels.
“I am also sure if they reversed this stat and looked at the amount of sports clubs per capita we would also rank near the top of the list.
“We have numerous sports clubs and Galashiels has produced and continues to produce some of Scotland’s biggest sporting names.
“I do believe that eating healthy is important and encourage people to do so, as well as keeping up an active lifestyle.
“However, to demonise these facilities and the town of Galashiels is far more unhealthy to the psyche of Galashiels residents than a Big Mac ever will be!”
Councillor Sandy Aitchison also cast doubt on the accuracy of the research, but accepted there was a problem.
He said he was surprised not to see Edinburgh, “where every shopfront is a restaurant or fast-food outlet”, in the top five, the capital coming in at number eight on the list.
Mr Aitchison added: “This is one league table we should not be top of, nor indeed near the top of.
“However, I had myself noticed that everything that opens is about food. By the Darwin principle of evolution, humans will develop extra limbs to carry coffee cups, mobile phones and have a hand to spare for other things.
“The idea of going out for breakfast has increased enormously in recent years. This was unheard of even ten years ago. The trouble is TV has constant reference to fast food and how it can be delivered and saves time.
“Most parents now work and therefore it is a convenient and easy way of getting something without the hassle of preparation. However, I think legislation will come soon to try to encourage people to cook and prepare fresh food.
“I know there is a government initiative and also the council is currently preparing strategies around “growing your own” and “healthy eating”. Schools are very up on the whole programme of healthy eating and I am amazed at the cultural change in my grandchildren and what they eat compared to previous generations but will it have a lasting effect?
“It is easy to be righteous about eating and what people should eat but these places would not be there if there was no market.
“Nobody wants to go back to the WW2 rationing diet but trying to stop things with legislation has not got a proud history! We have to hope that education in hand with legislation will encourage more healthy eating habits.”
The survey, which you can see here believes there are five Greggs in Galashiels, meaning there would be one for every 3,665 people.
And by adding another two McDonald’s and one Domino’s to that total, it reckons there’s eight fast food restaurants for the town’s 18, 324 population.
That, if correct, would work out at one fast-food restaurant for every 2,291 Galashiels residents, but really the town only has one Greggs, which relocated from Channel Street to a bigger sit-in outlet in Market Street this summer, only one McDonald’s, at Wilderhaugh, and asingle Domino’s pizza place, in Channel Street.
The Nottingham-based bean bag company’s results, shared in a story by the Daily Record newspaper this morning, have left Borderers finding both humour and confusion in the where the extra four Greggs and one McDonald’s are in the town.
More on townsfolks’ reactions here: https://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/news/people/galashiels-dubbed-greggs-capital-of-uk-in-half-baked-poll-which-sparks-confusion-1-5032006
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