Obese children are to be given £2,000 electric bicycles to help them lose weight – because they struggle to use traditional ones.
Conwy Council in North Wales claims the move will help youngsters ‘with weight management difficulties engage in sport’.
Leisure bosses say electric bicycles, rather than traditional pedal ones, will help obese youngsters navigate difficult terrain in the county.
A pilot scheme of the e-bicycles involved 500 local youngsters, last year, and showed overweight children struggled to ride up hills using traditional bicycles.
On your bike! Leisure bosses say electric bicycles, rather than traditional pedal ones, will help obese youngsters navigate difficult terrain in the county
E-bikes work like normal bicycles but have a small battery powered motor attached that can drive it when the rider needs some assistance on trickier terrain.
Conwy Council was asked to match-fund £5,000 for five e-bikes, after a pilot scheme with pedal cycles that involved a school.
The council report said: ‘Having run a pilot scheme on a smaller scale within a local school using traditional bicycles, the evidence was clear that e-bikes can help those with weight management difficulties to engage in sport.
‘Using the bike as a tool to experience the outdoors without the e-bike would not have the ability to ride up hills thus making it more accessible and enjoyable.
‘Other benefits include less time on video games and social media platforms. Long term goals include making the transition on to traditional cycling and long lasting health benefits including a lower body mass index.’
According to a report, around a third of all schoolboys and girls in Conwy are overweight – the highest in North Wales.
According to the NHS Childhood Measurement Programme 2016/17, 32 per cent of Conwy boys are overweight or obese – the highest percentage across North Wales and second highest across Wales. Similarly, thirty per cent of Conwy girls are also overweight or obese – the 4th highest across North Wales.
But residents say the proposed initiative is yet another example of ‘out of touch’ town hall chiefs wasting taxpayers’ cash on ‘nonsense’ projects.
The council is already under fire for committing £58million of taxpayers’ money on rent for its brand new headquarters in Colwyn Bay over the next 40 years.
While at the same time the local authority has cut bin collections to just once a month.
‘Out of touch’: Officials at Conwy Council have cut services, including reducing bin collections to once every four weeks, but they still increased council tax by five per cent in 2017
Residents are angry that, despite a reduction in services, their council tax rose by five per cent last year.
They have also been warned to expect an even bigger hike in 2019.
One local, Mair Dempster-Jones, said of the bike plan: ‘Tax payers paying for this nonsense again. Get them walking, that is free.’
While another, Caroline Dawson, added: ‘These kids need to be getting a sweat on, and not given the luxury of power assist over difficult terrain. They’re eight, not 80. Sad times.’
Others branded the plan ‘stupid’ and a ‘joke’.
Janet Finch-Saunders, Tory AM for Aberconwy, told the Daily Mail that the move did appear ‘bizarre’.
She said: ‘It’s good that the local authority are looking to get obese and overweight children outdoors and cycling but the logic behind getting them to use an electric bike, rather than a pedal bike to propel them along, needs a better explanation.
‘I do find it slightly bizarre. Electric bikes are expensive, surely they would be able to reach out to more children by purchasing bikes without batteries.’
In September, Conwy became the first local authority in England and Wales to slash bin collection to once every four weeks.
Council chiefs claim it will save them almost £400,000 a year in landfill costs, plus help them meet tough recycling targets set by the Labour-run Welsh Government.
ENGLISH CHILDREN ARE FATTER THAN EVER, OFFICIAL FIGURES SHOW
English children are fatter than ever as official data yesterday revealed a record number of 10 to 11-year-olds are now severely obese.
NHS figures showed the proportion of children who are severely obese has risen by more than a third since 2007.
It is now at 4.2 per cent, the highest ever level – 24,437 children in England fall into the fattest possible category.
The London borough of Brent has the highest level of severely obese children, with a rate of 7.8 per cent – more than five times higher than 1.5 per cent in the lowest, Richmond upon Thames.
And more than a fifth of children of school-leaving age are obese, as well as 9.5 per cent of four to five-year-olds, which experts have called ‘totally unacceptable’.
Childhood obesity rates in the most deprived areas are more than double that of those in the least deprived areas, the figures also show.
Data from NHS Digital has today revealed more than 24,000 10 to 11-year-old children in England are severely obese, and the problem is worse in poorer areas (map showing the percentage of severely obese Year 6 children in local authorities across England)