People living in Canterbury need to be given help to adopt healthy lifestyles — not just as a way of improving their own lives but also to protect against over-burdening the NHS and concerns about environmental issues.
This is one of the main recommendations of “Vision for Canterbury: Towards 2030”, a practical blueprint for future changes in the city from the Canterbury Society.
The Vision document, published this week makes 67 recommendations on subjects including transport, heritage, homelessness, crime, social housing and the environment.
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This is the second such Vision to be produced by the society.
The first, unveiled in 2013, paved the way for numerous changes including a reform of the council governance system, schemes on drugs misuse and more controls on houses in multiple occupation.
The new Vision highlights many challenges in the city, as well as ways of combatting them.
For instance, the rate of alcohol admissions to hospitals for under-18s — 60.9 per 100,000 — is nearly 70 per cent higher than the average for England.
And, according to the report, the “reputation of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital has declined, making it difficult to recruit high quality clinical staff”.
The report, therefore, calls for a “rigorous campaign, launched and promoted locally, to foster healthy lifestyles”, with the NHS, schools, pensioners, and youth clubs all taking part.
This is in conjunction with achieving a change in which people are encouraged to walk, cycle or take public transport.
The report is also being used by the Canterbury Society as a citizens’ agenda for the local elections on May 2.
Candidates for the 39 seats on the council will be asked how they would respond to the recommendations.
An underlying theme to the report is the adoption of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a set of aims — also recently supported by Theresa May’s Cabinet — to encourage sustainable transport, the reduction of poverty and other measures.
The Canterbury Vision also calls for an integrated transport hub at Canterbury West train station, greater care of our green spaces, more evening policing, more tree-planting and litter bins, a clearer role for “informed local residents” at the council, tackling a lack of aspiration among children in deprived areas and higher standards of planning for the cultural heritage.
The council is also urged to take advantage of recent national reforms to begin building affordable social housing, and to insist that all new student blocks are convertible to housing for families and young people.