Pennine and Lancashire consortium of local authorities: Year 1 update

The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme is funded by the Department and Health and Social Care and administered by the Local Government Association. Public Health England also providing expert support and advice. Pennine Lancashire Consortium of Local Authorities plan to test their planning powers to restrict food retailers that do not offer healthier options and to test a range of levers to incentivise them to improve their offer.

Background to area

  • Pennine Lancashire Consortium of Local Authorities is made up of Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Lancashire County Council. This includes one unitary, five district and one county-council.
  • In 2018 the prevalence of obesity among 10-11-year olds ranged from 14.9 per cent to 22.8 per cent across the districts, averaging 20.6 per cent in Pennine Lancashire, higher than the national average of 20.1 per cent and close to the North West average of 21 per cent
  • Childhood obesity prevalence more than doubles between reception and Year 6 in 66 per cent of wards
  • Across Pennine Lancashire, levels of deprivation vary, with some areas experiencing high levels of deprivation falling within the most deprived 10 per cent of local authorities nationally. There are also pockets of affluency.
  • Pennine Lancashire has a diverse population, with over 25 per cent of Blackburn with Darwen residents and 10 per cent of East Lancashire residents being of South Asian heritage.
  • According to the Food environment assessment tool developed by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) and the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, the number of fast food outlets per 1,000 residents reaches as high as 6.13 in one area of Pennine Lancashire – significantly greater than the national average
  • Pennine Lancashire has 50 per cent of its districts in top 15 in England for Hot Food Takeaway prevalence.

What is the project trying to achieve?

  • Pennine Lancashire Consortium of Local Authorities plan to test their planning powers to restrict food retailers that do not offer healthier options and to test a range of levers to incentivise them to improve their offer.
  • The project includes a “personal planning permissions” approach to regulate the opening of healthy new cafes, restaurants (A3s) and hot food takeaways (A5s)
  • All six district councils will look towards permissions being granted for retailers able to demonstrate healthier menus as part of their application. Linked to an existing healthier retail programme offering free business support, retailers will be incentivised and rewarded through co-determined incentives such as free waste removal, procurement opportunities, subsidised advertising across council estate and opportunities to be part of a “health food hub”
  • To harness the support and power of elected members, the project team will engage with members from across the Pennine Lancashire footprint to co-develop learning and development resources and to support elected members to become Healthy Weight Champions
  • Through links with schools and the voluntary, community and faith sectors, a grassroots movement will be supported to give voice to communities advocating for healthier options.

Progress (July 2019 - June 2020)


  • Healthy Place Healthy Future (HPHF) steering board meetings set up with Terms of Reference
  • HPHF Expert Panel set up
  • Food Active appointed as a provider
  • Agreement from all 6 districts to adopt a Healthy Weight Declaration (HWD) and their HPHF action plan following a HWD audit 
  • Co-produced and agreed a programme logo now being used in all communications. The logo has been designed to sit alongside the Healthier Pennine Lancashire and Together an Active Future logos to provide a recognisable branding across the Pennine Lancashire programmes.  This has purposely been de-branded as a Council programme into a community owned and directed programme. 
  • A regular news bulletin is now being produced to inform any partners, stakeholders and wider interested parties about the progress and activity taking place and to share any good practice and learning. HPHF has a dedicated page on the Healthier Pennine Lancashire website and a dedicated Twitter page @healthierplace which will be used alongside the bulletin to share good practice and learning
  • Food Active worked closely with ICF and Dr Emma Boyland at the University of Liverpool to develop the evaluation framework


  • Planning cycles and election cycles mapped
  • Successful event for planners and district members with a responsibility for planning was held, supported by Michael Chang from Public Health England and CEDAR’s Dr Tom Burgoine (also a member of the HPHF Expert Panel). 

There is an agreement for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) development to proceed.  The MoU is an overarching approach to tackling obesity and improving health and wellbeing across the Pennine Lancashire footprint

Elected members/system leadership

  • A series of successful Health and Wellbeing Forum meetings held with elected members from across the seven local authorities, identifying what makes a good and bad learning experience and started to test infographic styles and animations. Established a list of learning methods and tools the elected members would like to use.
  • Tested a beta version of the online learning and development module, infographics and discussed in detail potential means of communication, including podcasts

Recipe4Health/Business incentives

Put together a task and finish group to work on a new draft of the R4H award. The new award will include a more detailed nutrition section and reference to climate change and waste. To support the evaluation, we have drafted a menu analysis tool. This will be used to analyse menus gathered from HFTs across the four pilot sites

Social Movement

  • Launched our first campaign to support this lever, the ‘Great Big Pan Challenge’. The challenge supports the food insecurity agenda by aiming to raise awareness of the difficulties some people face in feeding their families well, whilst also identifying local ‘food champions’. The challenge will initially take place across BwD with a toolkit developed to enable the other districts to roll out the challenge in the coming months.
  • Engaged with young people both via social media (Instagram) and through a virtual Zoom debate with Blackburn Youth Zone. The first debate was on ‘hot food takeaways – for or against’ and covered several topics such as ‘can HFTs be healthy?’
  • Developed activity packs for those young people who have limited access to the internet and delivered learning sessions based on four key themes for holiday activities; 4-7 year olds, sugar and healthy swaps; 8-12 year olds, food waste; 13-17 year olds, junk food marketing; and all ages, rubbish, plastic and the environment


  • There is no one size fits all approach to engaging with and supporting the learning and development needs of elected members. A variety of methods are needed to maximise the potential of this work
  • Elected members want to be involved, they want to be able to help to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities
  • Many LAs do not engage with their elected members on the health and wellbeing agenda, we are therefore mindful that this work may be very useful to be shared widely once developed
  • Setting up evaluation frameworks takes a lot of time, we perhaps did not appreciate how resource intensive this would be, however this has been a very useful exercise
  • It is important to focus on what can realistically be achieved in terms of the evaluation plans
  • Working in partnership (i.e. with Together an Active Future Local Delivery Pilot) across the Pennine Lancashire footprint has allowed us to develop resources at a quicker pace than anticipated due to additional support and resource
  • There is a lot of scope for virtual engagement – with elected members, planners and communities
  • Working with progressive partners has allowed meaningful virtual engagement with young people
  • COVID-19 may present some opportunities for improved health and community cohesion moving forwards
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way takeaways operate and has also encourage new takeaway services to open via the change in planning regulations. We need to adapt or ways of working to support takeaways during this time and during the ‘recovery’ phase and keep horizon scanning to pre-empt potential issues arising from increasing numbers in the future by working with them to provide healthier options as a priority.

What next?

  • Launch the online learning and development resources and infographics with elected members
  • Commence work on the elected member portal
  • Drive and support the elected member peer-to-peer work
  • Complete the evidence base (mapping A3/A5 with NCMP data) for all the districts, map this visually
  • Complete the deep dive into planning application, engage with colleagues on the best way to present the data
  • Continue to develop the Memorandum of Understanding
  • Continue the development of the portion guidance for infants/children
  • Collect baseline data for the business lever through analysis of menus across the pilot sites
  • Develop a revised draft of the Recipe 4 Health award and test with businesses
  • Continue to push forward on the social movement
  • Complete district mapping exercise and develop action plans for 2020-21