Councillors have been urged to “think outside the box” when deciding how best to fund leisure services and tackle obesity in Lichfield and Burntwood.

The sector is being reviewed once more as part of Lichfield District Council’s Fit for the Future programme.

A number of changes have already been implemented as the local authority looks to plug a hole in its finances, including reduced opening times at King Edward VI Leisure Centre.

But the new review will continue to look at how a reduced pot of money can be best spent on keeping local people healthy.

Cllr Thomas Marshall
Cllr Thomas Marshall

Cllr Thomas Marshall, Conservative representative for Armitage with Handsacre, said the issue of leisure funding needed a significant rethink at local and national levels.

“Do we really think outside the box enough on leisure,” he said. “In Denmark, you see families out together and rarely see any fat people.

“Too often when it comes to leisure and health, we tinker at the edges and don’t address the real problems. There now needs to be a root and branch appraisal because we are not getting it right in Lichfield and we are not getting it right at a national level.

“We can’t address many of the problems on our own at a local level, but we could look at whether there is a different way to approach the issues.”

Cllr Martyn Tittley
Cllr Martyn Tittley

His Conservative ward colleague Cllr Martyn Tittley also raised concerns over the leisure strategy at a recent meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee.

He said more could be done to make Lichfield a cycling city.

“Look at Cambridge where cyclists are put before cars,” he said. “The effort is put in there to get people on their bikes and get them healthy.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have that consensus here because of the different levels of councils.

“But there does need to be an over-arching strategy, because leisure facilities on their own can’t tackle the challenges of public health.”

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.