New walking strategy to tackle obesity given go-ahead

Doncaster has one of the lowest levels of activity and one of the highest levels of obesity in the country
Doncaster has one of the lowest levels of activity and one of the highest levels of obesity in the country

Councillors unanimously approved a proposal to 'Get Doncaster Walking' saying it was "one of the best reports" the cabinet had seen.

The new strategy is part of a £389,733 plan to make Doncaster more active after reports showed the borough has one of the lowest levels of activity and highest levels of obesity in the country.

Councillor Bill Mordue, business, skills and economic development, said the plans should be easy to implement and the benefits will be far reaching.

He said: "It's a really good report, this. One of the best reports we have had at cabinet.

"Apart from the obvious health benefits of walking everyone is aware of, getting more people walking will also have an economic benefit to the town and villages.

"The more people that walk the more confidence retailers will have that they can do business because of the amount of people that are walking around.

"It's a no-brainer for me. It's a good report, a great way of sorting things out and should be relatively easy to achieve."

In the report, Clare Henry, public health specialist, stated: "We want walking to be easy, safe, pleasant and provide opportunities for interaction with other people in an attractive environment.

"Encouraging more walking can ease traffic congestion which enables the boroguh to grow, has positive health and wellbeing benefits that improves people's quality of life and helps to reduce air and noise pollution."

Coun Nuala Fennelly, children, young people and schools, said in the meeting it will also have positive impact on families, and added: "I hope it will encourage children to walk more and parents to not park their cars outside schools, which we all know is dangerous.

"I do think that the healthier the parents are, the healthier their children will be in Doncaster. So I think getting adults out walking will help children in the long-run."

Coun Chris McGuinness, communities, voluntary sector and the environment, said: "The more people not using cars means we are healthier in terms of breathing in on a day-to-day basis."

In a response to a consultation, people said litter, dog mess, poor weather, lack of safety, parking on pavements and lack of information were putting them off walking.

But all that could change as part of the plans include a walking festival, new footpaths, clearing litter and route guides.

Initial targets set for the new strategy include reducing all pedestrian injuries by 4 per cent annually and increasing the number of people walking for leisure by 7.5 per cent.