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Councillor stands defiant and declares: I think.

Byline: LISA HUTCHINSON ; MATT PLAYFORD

A COUNCILLOR sparked outrage by accusing townspeople of being overweight because they gorge on takeaways.

But Anita Romer has been branded a bigmouth who should be forced to eat her words after she hit out at the residents of Seaton Delaval in Northumberland.

During a county council debate into whether a new takeaway should be allowed to open in the town, the Lib Dem spoke out.

Stephen Stanners, 21, branch secretary of the Seaton Delaval and Holywell Labour group said: "I was in the public gallery at the planning meeting when Coun Romer stood up and said there is a link between the number of takeaways in Seaton Delaval and the reason people in Seaton Delaval are so fat.

"There were some jaws that dropped. People didn't know how to take it and didn't know what to say. It has stirred up anger as people have started to talk about it on Twitter and Facebook.

Mr Stanners, a former Astley High School pupil, added: "This is completely unacceptable and is very offensive to the people of Seaton Delaval.

"She is completely out of touch with reality. I am today calling for Coun Romer to apologise for these disgusting, unnecessary comments."

But Coun Romer has defended her outburst and said as head of public health in Northumberland she has the authority to "tell people the truth".

The planning application was lodged by Mr Sabatinis - a business that already has a food takeaway shop in Seaton Delaval.

Its owner wants to move the takeaway on Double Row to bigger premises at the former Yum Tum's bakery on Avenue Road.

The Delaval Fish Bar objected and after a map was produced showing 15 takeaways in the area, Coun Romer spoke.

The application was turned down.

Labour group leader Grant Davey, who was at the meeting, said: "She sometimes sounds like a plonker, but she is an educated person and is a microbiologist. I bet she wishes she had bit her tongue. It is offensive to those people who live in Seaton Delaval - and to me as my mother lives there."

Lehmber Singh, owner of the Delaval Fish Bar, said: "I agree that there shouldn't be any more takeaways in the area, but I don't think that many people are fat."

However, Coun Romer, who represents the Hartley area, said: "I was very careful not to mention Seaton Delaval when I spoke. I said obesity is a problem across South East Northumberland.

"I didn't use the word fat, but obese. One of the causes of obesity is an excessive amount of takeaway food in a weekly diet. It has a high fat content."

The grandmother-of-five, from Seaton Sluice, added: "There are 15 takeaways in Seaton Delaval and there must be a lot of people eating takeaways in that area for 15 takeaways to survive.

"I am a healthy eater and I'm in charge of public health in Northumberland. I am not saying all of Seaton Delaval is obese, but it is one of the areas where obesity is a problem. I am an executive member of Northumberland County Council and my particular portfolio is public protection, which includes public health, and I am concerned for the population who are overweight as this leads to heart disease and early death.

"I feel strongly about this subject. I think some people don't like to hear the truth."

Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell said: "It is not our business to tell people what to do, but it is our business to advise them to think before they smoke, think before they drink and think before they eat."

Studies reveal folk live longer COUN Romer's outburst comes a week after studies revealed prosperous folk in Northumberland live up to a decade longer than those in deprived areas.

An investigation into health inequalities across the county showed less well-off areas, such as Blyth Valley and Wansbeck, face more pressing health issues than other areas.

The life difference between the least and most deprived people in the county is as much as 10.5 years.

A special working group of health professionals and county councillors has drawn up a report, to go before Northumberland County Council. Issues such as unemployment, poverty, unhealthy and unsafe environments, limited education and housing have all come under the microscope.

The probe, aimed at giving children the best possible start to life, was prompted by the Government's Marmot Review, which says health differences are "avoidable, unfair and unacceptable".

Marmot follows previous Government health reviews in 1980, 1987 and 1998, but instead of closing the gaps, discrepancies have widened.

CAPTION(S):

COMMON SIGHT Seaton Delaval in South East Northumberland currently has a total of 15 takeaways
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 19, 2012
Words:785
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