THE urgency of tackling the obesity time bomb has been brought to the fore by the evidence of a link to an increased risk of Covid-19.

Living with excess weight puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19 with risk growing substantially as body mass index increases.

I therefore welcome the announcement of the Better Health Campaign which will call on people to embrace a healthier lifestyle and to lose weight if they need to. As part of this strategy, government ministers have set out a comprehensive package of measures to help people take control of their own future, beat coronavirus and protect the NHS.

We need to ensure that everyone has access to safe, attractive spaces for exercise whether they be cycle paths, playing fields, parks or countryside. The Government has announced, 'Gear Change', £2bn of funding to support cycling and walking and all local politicians in Bury must work together to make sure our Borough and its residents take advantage of this funding stream.

A new timetable has been announced for the implementation of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and one of the many reasons I will continue to oppose the loss of huge swathes of green belt locally is to ensure Bury, Ramsbottom and Tottington residents have access to green, open spaces close to where they live to allow them to exercise and walk in the fresh air at any time they choose. Improving our environment and air quality is beneficial for all our health outcomes

Diet plays a central role in a healthy lifestyle and I again would urge anyone who wants to shop for fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and any other healthy produce to get down to Bury Market where the selection is fantastic at low prices. We have brilliant independent shops throughout our area who sell the best fresh produce and we are very lucky to have them.

There has been fantastic work carried out by voluntary groups and Bury MBC to support healthy eating through cooking classes and other initiatives over many years and as lockdown eases we must ensure this important work carried out previously by organisations like Bury East Healthy Eating Project and Brandlesholme Community Group is given financial backing.

Schools have been taking part in the Daily Mile and I hope this can start again following lockdown. Our strategy locally must be inspirational. If possible, we must find ways to use iconic Bury landmarks to deliver the services and facilities I have talked about.