In response, Cllr Neil Clarke, chairman of the District Councils’ Network (DCN) said: “The DCN welcomes the Commons Health Committee’s highlighting the crucial role that planning and licensing, which are central responsibilities of districts councils, play in ensuring better public health outcomes.
“In its response we hope the Government will recognise the central role of districts councils in public health, including through the planning system, whilst ensuring that delays are avoided within the wider planning system process going forward.’
“Evidence cited by health think-tank The King’s Fund in their recent examination into the district role as enablers of public health stressed the quantifiable positive impact and public benefits of many aspects of the planning process in enabling and encouraging physical activity, tackling obesity and boosting mental health.
“The DCN’s recently established independent public health partnership task force, led by Professor John Ashton, will be considering the role of planning and other district council services which contribute to delivering better health outcomes and savings to the overall public purse.
“The DCN is also in full agreement with the Committee’s view that prevention at community level represents the best chance we have as a nation to reduce major health inequalities.
“District councils make a major, but often under-recognised contribution to the health and wellbeing of their citizens and communities and as ‘sleeping giants’ of public health deliver disproportionately on prevention.
“As the move towards integrated place-based public services gathers pace, districts will be critical partners for the NHS and other tiers of local government in seeking to develop population health systems.”