Anyone who has read a newspaper or has watched television or listened to the radio in the past year will be aware that health experts are predicting a public epidemic of ill health in the forthcoming years caused by poor diet, obesity and inactivity.
Not only will this have a serious impact on people’s quality of life and lifespan but it will put intolerable pressure on the NHS.
So concerned about this is the Government that it has empowered local authorities to tackle the obesity and lack of activity in particular at source, among the local population. The intention is to encourage more healthy eating and lifestyle and, as regards the latter, getting people to be more active, including the elderly, to encourage them to be more mobile and thus more healthy in their later years and thus remain independent for longer. Laudable aims in anyone’s book, surely.
Locally it is Lancashire County Council which has been charged with carrying out these aims, increased exercise being one of the key required outcomes. The county council has established a “Health and Wellbeing Board” headed by local County Coun. Ali to deliver on these health issues.
As far as improving mobility and activity is concerned, especially for the elderly, walking is a key activity. In Pendle we are fortunate in having many parks and paths in lovely countryside for people to walk. One of the best facilities is Wycoller. Here, in lovely surroundings, away from traffic, are walking routes to match all abilities, from gentle walks on level, and circular routes with only small rises to tackle, to more onerous circular or linear routes that are ideal for those more capable. Something for everyone from a small child to senior citizens in a safe environment. There’s even a tearoom for refreshments after your walk!
So what is the first thing Lancashire County Council does in response to its new increase in activity remit? It slaps a charge on Wycoller car parks! It’s going to be hard enough to encourage more active lifestyles without Coun. Marcus Johnstone (Head of Environment) putting arbitrary obstacles in people’s way like this. The HWB should be promoting Wycoller.
Some will say it’s only £1 but I ask: what will it be next year or in five years time? £5 plus? Just look at the record of how councillors milk the public in “chargeable services”.
Also relevant to the CCC’s hypocritical, dual standard approach to the HWE “initiative” is its plans (Coun. Johnstone again?) to cease financing Pendle Council’s excellent countryside service which Pendle has, for many years, carried out on behalf of the LCC.
Inevitably, our excellent network of easily accessible public paths will fall into disrepair, further discouraging more active lifestyles. So instead of promoting walking, a means most people can access with proper support and encouragement, LCC is putting barriers in the public’s way.