Hartlepool health officials targeting takeaways as the town is named North East fast food capital

Church Street in Hartlepool where there are a number of takeaways.
Church Street in Hartlepool where there are a number of takeaways.
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Hartlepool is the fast food capital of the North East with more takeaways for the population than anywhere else in the region.

New data published by Public Health England (PHE) shows how many fast food outlets, including burger bars, kebab and chip shops, are in each local authority – and also shows a ward-by-ward breakdown.

It supports the case for a number of current and planned public health initiatives that aim to address the proliferation of fast food takeaways in Hartlepool

Counsil spokesman

Hartlepool has a total of 133 fast food outlets, which works out at a rate of 143.6 per 100,000 population, the highest in the region.

Victoria ward, which includes the town centre, has the highest number, at 38.

Hartlepool’s new Local Plan is set to include a policy to restrict the numbers and floorspace, and a total ban on new takeaways in some areas where there is already a high concentration.

A spokesman for the council’s Public Health Department said: “We welcome this new data as it supports the case for a number of current and planned public health initiatives that aim to address the proliferation of fast food takeaways in Hartlepool and help people to make healthier, more informed food choices. 

“The council is proposing a Hot Food Takeaway Policy as part of its new Local Plan, which will be submitted to Central Government by February 2017. 

“The policy could lead to a total ban on takeaways in some parts of the town, and a limit on the amount of permitted floor space in others.”  

The local authority also says it may look to control the opening hours of some hot food takeaways that are on key routes used by school children.

The spokesman added: “In addition, the council is currently working with takeaway owners to support the re-formulation of their most popular meals. 

“Recipes have undergone nutrition testing and this has highlighted significant differences in fat, salt and sugar content.  

“This information is being used to encourage businesses to switch to healthier options – with the added benefit of reducing their costs.”

Other measures include offering half portions and providing water as an alternative to sugary drinks in promotions and meal deals.

The density of fast food outlets in local authorities in England ranges from 24 to 199 per 100,000 of the population. The national average is 88 per 100,000.

Professor Peter Kelly, PHE centre director for the North East said: “Over a fifth of adults and children eat takeaway meals at home more than once a week which is contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic.”