Harrow Council has announced controversial plans to put junk food vending machines in civic buildings in an attempt to fill its drained coffers.

It hopes the move will make an extra £25,000 next year after placing the machines in the Civic Centre, libraries and even blocks of flats.

But food campaigners and residents in Harrow have condemned the idea believing it will encourage people to eat unhealthily.

They also say the plans are inappropriate because the Government banned junk food from vending machines in schools earlier this year.

Mother-of-two, Julia Benwell-Froggart, 37, of Marsh Road, Pinner, has spoken out about the plans. She said: "It is just outrageous. The council should be encouraging our children to eat well not showering them with junk food. If I was in a library with my two children they would be more interested in getting their hands on a chocolate bar than picking up a book. We are all suckers for sweets and chocolate so adults will also have to be strong and not give into temptation."

In Harrow alone 19.3 per cent of adults are obese. The borough also has the highest rate of diabetes in London.

Tam Fry, chairman of the Child Growth Foundation and board member of the National Obesity Forum, said: "This is totally inappropriate and contrary to any policy we should be aspiring to. Councils should not be making money by putting children's health at risk. If a council wants vending machines it should stock the machines up with healthy food and not think about putting cash first."

Members of the council will be discussing when to begin installing machines over the next couple of weeks.

Councillor Paul Osborn (Conservative), responsible for performance, communication and corporate services, said: "We will ensure that any companies we hire offer a range of healthy items along with the more traditional snacks. We think that adults are perfectly capable of making their own diet choices and understand what a balanced diet entails.

"This plan will potentially earn the council £25,000 a year. It isn't a windfall, but we are confident people will support us in our aim to keep council tax as low as possible by watching what we spend and looking for sensible new ways of bring in revenue."