Wigan snubbed for new obesity project

Latest public health figures say 21.1pc of Wigans 10 or 11-year-olds are obese, worse than the national average
Latest public health figures say 21.1pc of Wigans 10 or 11-year-olds are obese, worse than the national average

A senior council officer has spoken of his “extreme disappointment” after the town hall was overlooked by a national scheme to tackle childhood obesity.

Officers had submitted a bid to the Local Government Association (LGA) in December to be part of the “trailblazer” project.

The programme – funded by central government – will see up to five local authorities handed £100k to create ‘innovative’ plans to promote healthy lifestyles.

But the LGA announced this week that Wigan was not among the 13-strong shortlist to be part of the initial “discovery” phase.

James Winterbottom, director for children’s services, said: “We’re extremely disappointed to miss out on the opportunity to take part in this programme but despite this we will continue to work with our partners across the community in both health and education to promote healthy living.

“Through projects such as The Daily Mile, now in 62 schools and 19 nurseries, young health champions and support from community groups and sports clubs we are committed to providing young people with access to support aimed at keeping our young people healthy.”

The LGA said it had received 102 applications and Rochdale was the only Greater Manchester authority to make the shortlist.

The council’s bid had been discussed by members of the children and young people scrutiny committee earlier this month.

A report by officer Liz Ireland said although borough figures for reception children are ‘gradually improving’, concern remains about pupils in year six.

Latest public health figures say 21.1pc of Wigan’s 10 or 11-year-olds are obese, worse than the national average.

Coun Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s community well-being board, said: “Childhood obesity remains one the most serious challenges facing local authorities, who have responsibility for public health, and for society more widely.

“This three-year trailblazer programme, managed by the LGA and funded by the Department of Health and Social Care with support from Public Health England, will see councils take the lead in developing new and innovative projects to tackle this epidemic at a local level, making a real difference in their communities.”