PRESTON was today slammed as having the most unhealthy main retail area in the UK.
The city was ranked top of 70 towns and cities based on the proportion of businesses that either support or harm the public’s health.
I beg to differ. Preston is one of the best city centres around mainly because of the regeneration and the improvements that have been made
Preston was placed ahead of areas including Blackpool, Wolverhampton and Stoke -on-Trent, says the Royal Society for Public Health.
The league table forms part of RSPH’s Health on the High Street campaign which aims to make high streets healthier.
It wants to encourage businesses to take steps to promote health while also giving further powers to local authorities in the areas of planning and licensing.
Based on public and expert opinion, the Society has identified bookmakers, payday loan shops, fast food outlets and tanning salons as having the most negative impact on health.
Pharmacies, leisure centres, and health services are seen as having the most positive impact. Businesses were scored by over 2,000 members of the public and experts, on the extent to which they encourage healthy choices; promote social interaction; provide access to health advice; and promote positive mental wellbeing.
Based on the scoring and the prevalence of these different businesses in each town or city, they were ranked accordingly.
Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive at the Royal Society for Public Health: “While our ranking of towns and cities is by no means a reflection on whether these areas are generally healthy or unhealthy, 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 Five Year Forward View calls for us to move “further and faster” to improve the public’s health.
“This could be achieved by granting local authorities enhanced powers to create a rich mix of health promoting businesses on our high streets and encouraging businesses to promote healthy choices.”
Coun John Swindells, deputy leader of Preston City Council, said: “The results of this survey mirror our own concerns. Indeed the Royal Society for Public Health is campaigning to allow local authorities greater planning powers to deal with this issue. It is something the council, along with 92 other local authorities, has and will continue to lobby the Government for.
“It is though, not all bad news. We are seeing greater variety of shops, businesses, restaurants and bars opening in Preston.
“This trend will grow as we and our partners continue to invest in Preston City Centre.”
Andrea Mellon, of the award-winning Duk Pond and Duk Bodega eateries in Preston, laughed off the survey results.
She said: “I beg to differ. Preston is one of the best city centres around mainly because of the regeneration and the improvements that have been made.
“I have worked all over the country and I know that every town has an element of all these things that the survey mentions.”
She said the business community and local authority was doing all it could to improve matters.