Councillor calls for “private” football stadium to kick-start health

A LEADING Thurrock councillor has called for more sporting facilities in the borough to kick start the council’s increasing responsibility over public health in the borough.

Portfolio holder for public protection, cllr Gerard Rice made the call as local authorities are to be given freedom to spend public health budgets transferred from the NHS, under the government’s public health White Paper, published last week.

The document promised that local authorities would be able to set their own priorities for public health spending, when they take over responsibility for this area from primary care trusts from April 2013.

The White Paper said councils were best placed to tackle the health challenges their areas faced in areas such as drugs, alcohol, sexual health and obesity. It added: “We will keep to a minimum the constraints as to how local government decides to fulfil its public health role and spend its new budget.”

Commenting on the proposals at council cabinet last night, leader John Kent said: “The chief executive pointed out to me that a male in Tilbury has a life expectancy ten years less than a male in Brentwood.

“With high obesity and smoking levels, we have to make a stand to improve the health of the borough.”

Councillor Rice echoed the call. He said: “With the health and well-being of the borough being discussed, we should get the private sector on board to build a sports stadium in Tilbury.”

Councils will be paid for their results in improving health outcomes against a new performance framework, through a health premium. This will form part of their budget and will be initially distributed purely on the basis of health need, in order to tackle health inequalities.

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