Council chief executive encourages others on Warwickshire councils to learn from success on activity levels

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Could country parks be a key part of the solution to ever-increasing burdens on the NHS?

Warwick District Council’s chief executive Chris Elliott certainly thinks so, highlighting work on promoting active lifestyles through the provision of open space in an update for the county’s health and wellbeing board – a panel of county, district and borough councillors, council and NHS staff and patient bodies.

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He referenced ongoing research by Sport England on activity levels across the country, which includes breakdowns by district and borough.

Warwick District Council’s chief executive Chris Elliott recently highlighted work on promoting active lifestyles through the provision of open space in an update for the county’s health and wellbeing board – a panel of county, district and borough councillors, council and NHS staff and patient bodies.Warwick District Council’s chief executive Chris Elliott recently highlighted work on promoting active lifestyles through the provision of open space in an update for the county’s health and wellbeing board – a panel of county, district and borough councillors, council and NHS staff and patient bodies.
Warwick District Council’s chief executive Chris Elliott recently highlighted work on promoting active lifestyles through the provision of open space in an update for the county’s health and wellbeing board – a panel of county, district and borough councillors, council and NHS staff and patient bodies.

The West Midlands as a whole has some of the lowest rates of consistent physical activity but the Warwick district is an outlier in Warwickshire.

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To be considered active, someone has to do 150 minutes or more of physical activity per week.

The latest available breakdown shows less than half of people in Nuneaton & Bedworth and around three fifths of people in the county achieve that with Warwick ahead of the game.

“As council as a whole, we are looking at a whole range of issues around how we keep people well rather than sorting them out once they’re ill,” said Mr Elliott.

“We have in the pipeline three new country parks, one of which the procurement process for almost 50 hectares of open space will be commencing at the back end of this year or early next year.

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“There is one that is substantially now in place, which is 100 hectares of open space with about 20,000 trees planted so far, all of which is designed to keep people active.

“The evidence from our investment, if you look at the Sport England survey of the percentage of people who are participating at an active level, is that there is an issue to be looked at – why is Warwick district 10 percentage points ahead of anywhere else in the sub-region?

“Stratford is close behind, and that is understandable, but 10 per cent is a very significant difference and I think that needs to be looked at.

“If we are trying to encourage people to keep well – quite frankly, colleagues, that is the best way of saving money for the NHS – then we need to understand the reasons why that is the case.

“I think I know but that is only a personal reflection, and that is about having the facilities and infrastructure so people can do things at relatively little or no cost – cycling, walking – on hand and easily accessible.

“I have no proof for that but that is what we think is the case and the strategy we are following.”