TOWNS: Darlington and Sunderland high streets were ranked as some of the most 'unhealthy' in the UK
NORTH high streets are among the most unhealthy in the country– with too many businesses like betting shops, fast food outlets and off-licences which could shorten the lives of locals– according to a new report.
Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council are also working together on a joint project to improve areas within the town centre. This includes the creation of an attractive pedestrian friendly environment along Terminus Road, space for cultural and social activities and enhancements to the wider town centre for local residents and Eastbourne visitors to enjoy.
Research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found residents of towns with lots of bookies and off-licences die younger than those with plenty of libraries and pharmacies.
Its ranking of 70 high streets found those living in the top ten healthy areas, which included Harrogate and York, lived an average of two-and-a-half years longer than those in the ten towns with the unhealthiest high streets, including Sunderland which was the fifth worst.
Barking Road, one of the high streets criticised for the prevalence of fast food shops. Picture: Google
Barking Road, which runs from Canning Town to Barking via East Ham, came eighth on the Royal Society for Public Healths rankings.
The list, published last week, was based on the prevalence of different types of businesses in the street, and was featured in the RSPHs report, Health on the High Street: Running on Empty.
Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member for City and East, said the findings were incredibly concerning.
Also on the list were Cheltenham, York, Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne, Exeter and Cambridge. The research found that 4,000 new fast food outlets had opened across the UK in the past five years – predominantly in poorer areas.
Northampton named as one of the unhealthiest high streets in Britain
He said: It is clear that we need robust regulation put in place to clamp down on the number fast food outlets and betting shops, whose presence can be incredibly harmful to the mental and physical health of local people.
To tackle local health and social inequalities, it is also essential that public services such as health centres, libraries and skills providers are set up in our community where they are needed most.
Philip Hammond announced that 500,000 small retailers will see a third knocked off their business rates, while a digital services tax will be levied at tech giants with global revenues above £500 million.
The report identified a clear link between deprivation and health – the top 10 unhealthiest streets had an average deprivation score of 26.9, compared to the top 10 healthiest streets, which had an average score of 19.9.
"Our Health on the High Street rankings illustrate how unhealthy businesses concentrate in areas which already experience higher levels of deprivation, obesity and lower life expectancy.
It highlighted the growing number of fast food and vape shops, especially in deprived areas. On average, poorer areas have five times as many fast food shops as affluent areas, and in the last three years, the number of vape shops on high streets has doubled.
Chief executive of the RSPH, Shirley Cramer, said this health imbalance between in rich and poor areas needs to be rebalanced.
Disappointing but not surprising: Life expectancy in Northampton drops as high street named among unhealthiest in UK, according to new report
Our rankings illustrate how unhealthy businesses concentrate in areas which already experience higher levels of deprivation, obesity and lower life expectancy, she said.
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Reshaping these high streets to be more health-promoting could serve as a tool to help redress this imbalance.
The RSPH has proposed a range of measures to tackle unhealthy high streets. They include discounted advertising from sites like Facebook and Google for independent, health-promoting businesses, and a review on business tax rates to make sure high street shops arent disadvantaged in comparison to online retailers.