BURGER vans will be banned from outside schools in a bid to boost children's health.

North Lanarkshire Council, which is responsible for around 160 schools, voted through the decision to ban the food outlets from the streets surrounding its schools at a meeting yesterday.

It comes after Glasgow City Council banned food vans from within 300 metres of its schools in 2009.

Councillor Jim Logue, convener of North Lanarkshire Council's learning and leisure committee, said: "We have a moral duty to do everything we can to look after our children's health. We accept that this is not a complete solution to the problem of obesity but we can't sit on our hands here."

The council agreed on an exclusion zone of 250 metres from schools.

At its budget meeting last month, the council agreed to boost invest-ment in its breakfast clubs, extending the ser-vice to all schools where 20% or more pupils qualify for free meals.

Earlier this month the Scottish Government published Better Eating, Better Learning, a report setting out a new context for food served in schools.

Councillor Logue added: "We have invested huge amounts in providing great meals in schools, expanded our award-wining breakfast clubs and have the best sports facilities.

"It makes no sense to continue to have pupils queuing up at snack vans at lunchtimes when there are better and healthier options available in school.

"Better Eating, Better Learning makes clear that pupils who eat nutritious food can be happier and healthier in the short term, and we know that in the longer term will make a better contribution to a healthier country.

"We are committed to that in our schools so, in that context, it's vital that we do everything we can in other ways."

Also at yesterday's meeting, North Lanark-shire Council agreed to stay in of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, despite other Labour councils making moves to pull out.

Councillor Jim Smith, depute leader, said: "We believe that Cosla is the best mechanism to discuss and protect our interests and we feel that being part of that collective of local authorities is important.

"That is North Lan-arkshire's position. It is for other councils to determine what's right for them."