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I live in UK’s unhealthiest town

I live in UK’s unhealthiest town

HUNGRY revellers queue at AJ’s Famous Double Burger stall just yards from pubs selling £3 pints.

As they tuck in, a mini-skirted woman scoffs a doner kebab behind the slot machines on Blackpool’s famous Golden Mile.

Blackpool has been voted the most unhealthy place to live in the UK for the fifth year runningCredit: The Sun
Locals say cheap booze and takeaways are part of the problemCredit: The Sun

Cheap booze and takeaways are all too common a sight in the Lancashire resort – known as the Las Vegas of the North.

The seaside town has just been crowned the unhealthiest place to live in England for the fifth year in a row.

High unemployment, deprivation, cheap drugs and bad diets with too much booze have contributed to the tourist mecca’s low health standing.

Mum-of-one Sophie Lawrence, 27, says she isn’t surprised.

She tells The Sun when we visit: “There’s so much temptation around for people to eat cheap and unhealthy food.

“My neighbours eat takeaways virtually every night with stuff like fish and chips or pizza. You see delivery drivers come all the time.

“But I struggle to afford them. I might have a takeaway pizza once a month as a treat.

“I try to cook homemade meals but it can be difficult with the cost, as everything has gone up.”

High unemployment, deprivation, cheap drugs and bad diets with too much booze have contributed to the tourist mecca’s low health standingCredit: The Sun
Mum-of-one Sophie says she isn’t surprised Blackpool has been voted the most unhealthiest place to live in the UKCredit: The Sun

Sophie, who was waiting for a bus with her 18-month-old daughter near Blackpool Tower, says she is looking to move away, fearful for her daughter’s future.

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“I’m on benefits at the moment,” she explains. “I was a care assistant but most of the jobs here are in hospitality but I don’t really want that. I want to work with animals.

“What with the job situation and all the problems here, I am looking to move. I do worry about my daughter and I’d like to bring her up in a healthier place.”

£3 pints at breakfast

The town might be famous for its Tower Ballroom, used by BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, but serious social ills lie beneath the surface.

At 11.30am on a weekday The Castle pub is already filling up with drinkers enjoying £3 pints of Carlsberg or John Smiths.

What with the job situation and all the problems here, I am looking to move. I do worry about my daughter and I’d like to bring her up in a healthier place

Sophie, Blackpool resident

Two women sipping £3.10 ciders are among 10 people sitting alone on tables outside.

Mum-of-two Lyndsey Hackett, 42, out with her three-year-old daughter Sienna, tells us: “There’s cheap booze everywhere here.

“The pubs are packed out as it’s a party town and people get caught up in it.

“It does seem to be getting worse with more problems in the town. And there’s a lot of fish and chip shops and cheap takeaways.

“I sometimes take my daughter to McDonald’s for a treat and I have a Thai takeaway now and again, but I like to keep myself and my family healthy.

“However for a lot of people here, it’s not so easy with the cost of everything. Covid made things a lot worse and I don’t think we’ve fully recovered.”

Lyndsey Hackett says the party-town atmosphere contributes to the booze problemCredit: The Sun
One of the amusement parks in BlackpoolCredit: The Sun

Retired computer worker Mike Robinson tucks into a £1 burger after paying at the takeaway kiosk where the owner cooks them up on a grill.

Mike, 63, says: “I love Blackpool and this place. Yes, it’s not that healthy but it’s a great price.

“I know Blackpool is deemed an unhealthy place with cheap takeaways and pubs. But I love the place with the beach and party atmosphere.”

There are soon queues forming as owner Chris Higgitt tries to keep up with the orders under his £1 burger illuminated sign.

Chris, 55, says: “We’re very popular as we price it right. I order in bulk to get around the cost of living crisis, and I won’t put my prices up.

“We’ve had people from Strictly here in the past. It’s a Blackpool institution. I close at 9pm so I don’t deal with any drunks.”

Mike Robinson buys a £1 burger from Chris HiggittCredit: The Sun
Strictly is held at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom every seriesCredit: The Sun

Chris adds: “Blackpool does have a lot of cheap takeaways and pubs.

“It’s just the nature of the place. People come here for a cup of tea, food and Blackpool Rock for under a fiver.”

In the new well-being index by the Office for National Statistics, the seaside resort town scored the worst of all 307 local authorities in the country.

It received an overall mark of 76.5 based on 56 factors including cancer rates, mental health and access to green spaces.

It was closely followed by Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, Liverpool and Middlesbrough.

Residents’ life expectancy is around five-and-a-half years lower than the national average, with high rates of suicide.

Sinister side

Drugs are a big problem in Blackpool

Drugs and booze issues are the main cause of the town’s health issues. Blackpool often tops league tables for alcohol-related health problems.

It has one of the country’s highest drug-related death rates, and there are believed to be nearly 3,000 crack and heroin users in the town.

Jobless Kyle Jones, 29, says: “You can get drugs very easily here. You just ring a number and some kid will deliver you crack or heroin within a few minutes or you can go to a drug den.

“Junkies prefer to get high by the seaside with its cheap accommodation rather than in a tower block in Salford.

“Drug gangs just flood the area with smack as they know there is such demand.

“There are also a lot of muggings so people can afford their next hit.

“Drug use is rampant – I’ve seen junkies cook up heroin near a school once.”

Drug use is rampant – I’ve seen junkies cook up heroin near a school once

Kyle Jones, local resident

Other locals say boozing causes more visible problems in the town.

Taxi driver Yusuf Caglar, 41, says: “In the early hours you see some shocking sights.

“Where drink is concerned, trouble normally follows, especially near the cheap takeaways.

“I finish work at 3am but some of my colleagues say it can be mayhem in the hours up to 6am with people staggering in the street and fighting.”

Officials have tried to move on from Blackpool’s boozy hen and stag do reputation.

The town has been awarded a £40million government Levelling Up grant, and millions has been invested in redeveloping the prom to attract more families to its beach, donkey rides and the Pleasure Beach, with its towering Big One rollercoaster.

Yusuf, who has been a cabbie in the resort for nine years, says: “It’s fantastic in the summer with all the tourists that come. The place comes alive then.

“There are people with bad lifestyles who don’t look after themselves. However it’s still a great place to live and work.”

Fast food joints are all over BlackpoolCredit: The Sun
The boozing culture leads to litter in the townCredit: The Sun
  • June 25, 2023