14/03/2013 17:33 GMT | Updated 14/03/2013 17:38 GMT

McDonald's Criticised By MPs For Targeting Pubs In The Search For New Sites

MPs have accused McDonalds of undermining the "Great British pub" by buying up boozers and converting them into fast-food outlets.

The burger giant offers £20,000 for anyone who suggests a suitable site for a new restaurant, and lists pubs among desirable locations on its website.

McDonald's wants to open 30 new 'drive-thru' restaurants every year

Now an MP has tabled a motion condemning McDonalds for contributing to the drastic decline of pubs, with campaigners claiming 18 are closing every week.

Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, is supported by MPs from the three main parties in his campaign.

Mulholland chairs Parliament's Save The Pub group

McDonalds told The Huffington Post UK former pubs could be "possible development opportunities."

Planning consultations always take place, it said, adding that each new burger joint brings jobs to an area.

More than 1,700 people have joined a Facebook campaign to save an historic Hampshire pub from turning into a McDonalds.

There were also protests when a pub in Bromley was converted into a drive-through.

It is now listed as a case study on the McDonald's website.

The Campaign for Real Ale said it had discussed the issue at a meeting on Wednesday night.

A Camra spokesman said pubs being converted into McDonald's restaurants was "a worrying site and a massive blow to local communities."

On its website, McDonald's says it wants to open 30 new drive-through restaurants every year.

It lists pubs, as well as traditional high streets and shopping centres as possible locations.

Mulholland's motion says: "That this House condemns McDonald's for actively encouraging the use of public houses as sites for development through the development section on its official website which lists pub conversions amongst other desired sites and offers a £20,000 introductory fee to anyone able to locate a suitable site."

It calls on Parliament to acknowledge the practice "will contribute to the decline of the Great British pub, a cherished British institution which is already being threatened by the predatory purchasing of pubs for development by supermarkets" and claims "companies like McDonald's and others are intentionally targeting and converting viable, wanted pubs for non-pub use without the community having a say."

However, his claim of a "loophole" to allow pubs to be converted into fast-food outlets without planning consent was disputed by McDonald's, which said it has to follow full planning procedure.

A spokesman for the company said: “Like many businesses, we look to identify possible development opportunities in a number of locations, some of which include sites of former pubs.

"In order to convert a pub we require a change of use and therefore must apply for planning consent and we always conduct consultation before and during the planning application procedure.

"When we open new restaurants we bring investment to the local area and create around 65 full and part-time jobs.”