Northampton town centre has been branded the fifth most ‘unhealthy’ in the UK after a survey found a high proportion of betting shops, tanning salons and takeaways.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has ranked 70 of the UK’s major towns and cities based on the proportion of businesses found in their main retail area that either “support or harm the public’s health.”
And Northampton came out fifth – behind Preston, Middlesbrough, Coventry and Blackpool.
Chief Executive of RSPH Shirley Cramer, said the ranking is “by no means a reflection on whether these areas are generally healthy or unhealthy”.
But she added: “Our research does find higher concentrations of unhealthy businesses exist in places which already experience high levels of deprivation and premature mortality.
“We recognise that businesses investing in high streets are important for local economies, but this shouldn’t be at any price.”
The league table forms part of RSPH’s Health on the High Street campaign which aims to give further powers to local authorities in the areas of planning and licensing.
The society says that ‘based on public and expert, bookmakers, payday loan shops, fast food outlets and tanning salons have the most negative impact on health, while pharmacies, leisure centres, and health services have the most positive.
Northampton Borough Council has hit back by saying the study is based on ‘a very limited view’.
A spokesperson for the council said: “Although there are limits in what we can do through the planning and licensing system, we can create a vibrant economy to attract new business to Northampton. This week we have released figures to show how footfall is increasing year on year. And this will help bring a wider variety of brands and businesses to our town.”
The RSPH is now calling on the next government, to give greater planning powers to prevent the number of betting shops, payday lenders and fast food outlets in a town centre.
It has called for a five per cent limit on each type of business on a high street in order to avoid ‘oversaturation’ and it says councils should be able to set their own differential business rates to encourage healthier outlets in towns.
Finally it says fast food outlets should display calorie ratings of items on its menu.
Northamptonshire County Council says the survey does not take into account other things which are helping to improve health in the town.
A spokesperson said: “Schemes such as Cycle Connect also have an impact on the wellbeing of a town, offering more opportunities to get and about any increase physical activity. Work is also underway to look at various aspects of food in the county, including the health and social aspects of the local food environment.”
Take-away town? Northampton has ranked fifth in a study of the most ‘unhealthiest’ town centres in the UK due to the number or take-aways, betting shops and tanning salons it has.-
Northampton in top five for the most unhealthy high streets, claim
The top five most unhealthy high streets in the UK according to the Royal Society for Public Health were ranked as:
9. Stoke on Trent
On the contrary the survey hands the title of healthiest high street to Shrewsbury, with Ayr, Salisbury, Perth and Hereford making up the top five.
But a Chronicle & Echo survey carried out yesterday found readers views were mixed as to whether there were too many take-aways in the town centre.
Carole Thomas said: “Better to have takeaways than empty shops. Some are much better than others, but if they are making enough money to stay open, good luck to them.”