Business Improvement District hits back at report listing Northampton among top ten 'unhealthiest' towns

Rob Purdie Northampton town centre Business Improvement District (BID) executive director.
Rob Purdie Northampton town centre Business Improvement District (BID) executive director.

The Northampton BID has said the recent report into Health on The High Street "breeds negativity" at a time when they are pledging to put empty shops back into use.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) published a league table on Friday (November 2) ranking 70 of Britain’s major towns and cities by the impact of their high streets on the public’s health and well being.

Northampton was ranked as number six in the 'unhealthiest' British high street league table, which was topped by Grimsby and followed by Walsall and Blackpool.

Edinburgh, Canterbury and Taunton were rated as having the healthiest outlets.

Changes to British high streets that have influenced the rankings include a growth in the number of fast food shops, the number of vape shops, shop vacancy rates and the prevalence of businesses identified as being either health-promoting or potentially damaging to health.

READ MORE: 'Disappointing but not surprising' Life expectancy in Northampton drops as high street named among unhealthiest in UK, according to new report

Rob Purdie, Northampton town centre Business Improvement District (BID) executive director said: “As a BID we agree with many of the conclusions and recommendations from this report, especially as they align with some of the projects we put forward at our recent town centre conference – one of these is our pledge to put vacant shop units back into productive use.

“It is however unfortunate that the focus is on ranking the ‘most unhealthy’ towns as this breeds negativity.

"In actual fact the report is trying to promote a better mixed-use in town centres, which is a positive step and one we hope to fully embrace in Northampton with the introduction of pop-up shops from community groups in 2019.

“We should also recognise that many factors are at play here - consumer demand, the needs of landlords and tenants, and challenged local authorities.

"In such a complex scenario the challenge is to deliver effective and sustainable change, quickly.”

The report lists a growth in the number of fast food shops by 4,000 between 2014 and 2017, especially in the most deprived areas, which now have five times more fast food shops than the most affluent areas.

The number of vape shops has doubled from 1,000 to 2,000 in the past three years.

This ranking excludes London high streets, which have been ranked separately.

The league table features in the new RSPH report, 'Health on the High Street: Running on empty', which follows on from the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of a package of measures designed to reinvigorate the nation’s high streets.

The report noted that library services, good pubs, leisure centres and health clubs heighten social interaction in an area.

The top 10 “unhealthiest” British high streets were ranked as:

1. Grimsby

2. Walsall

3. Blackpool

4. Stoke-On-Trent

5. Sunderland

6. Northampton

7. Bolton

8. Wolverhampton

9. Huddersfield

10. Bradford

The top 10 “healthiest” British high streets were ranked as:

1. Edinburgh

2. Canterbury

3. Taunton

4. Shrewsbury

5. Cheltenham

6. York

7. Brighton & Hove

8. Eastbourne

9. Exeter

10. Cambridge