‘Total bunkum!’ Blunder over ‘laughable’ claim Shotley Gate is one of UK’s unhealthiest villages

Shotley Gate has been reprieved after data used in a research paper, which said it was in the top 10

Shotley Gate has been reprieved after data used in a research paper, which said it was in the top 10 unhealthiest places in Great Britian, was proved to be incorrect. Picture: JIM TANFIELD - Credit: Inscope imaging

A blunder has called into question “laughable” research that a picturesque village was the third unhealthiest place in the UK.

However while admitting that a list of the top 10 unhealthiest places was sent back to front, Shotley Gate is still ranked eighth in the table released by researchers at the University of Liverpool.

Residents of the village on the peninsula reacted with anger when the research paper gave Shotley Gate the low rating, even though it has no fast food or gambling shops.

The village's access to healthcare, air quality and usable green space was judged to be poor enough for it to be ranked lowly.

However, following enquiries made by Suffolk County Council, a mistake in the tables was discovered meaning that the village was given "a poorer ranking than it ever should have received".

A spokesman from the council said: "The council's public health team looked closely at the original research and followed up concerns with the University of Liverpool directly.

"It appears that the data within the index was incorrect, leading to the Shotley Gate area of Suffolk being given a poorer ranking than it ever should have received.

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"Currently, the published information doesn't provide a robust framework for indicating unhealthy and healthy areas.

"The Healthy Suffolk website provides resource for health data and related research in Suffolk."

The county council has also raised a number of issues with the university regarding data collection methods used in the research.

A spokesman from the University of Liverpool said: "When reviewing information which was issued on request to journalists, it was discovered that the top 10 unhealthiest list issued was provided in an incorrect order (back to front), so Shotley instead of being number three in the list should have been number eight.

"We are sorry for this confusion this has caused and happy to clarify."

Councillor Derek Davis said: "I think that all Shotley Gate residents will be really pleased that this has been revisited.

"We all knew this was total bunkum when we first heard it and this has confirmed it.

"I hope people will continue to come and enjoy our healthy, green village."

What did the data show for the rest of Great Britain?

At a national level, the study found that six neighbourhoods in the top 10 were in London.

The study found that Soho had the greatest access to unhealthy opportunities such as takeaways, pubs and off licendes, combined with high levels of air pollution and low levels of parks and green spaces.

Liverpool senior lecturer in health geography, Dr Mark Green, who undertook the study, said: "The statistics reveal important insights about the concentration of certain amenities that may be damaging or promote health.

"For example, on average, individuals in Great Britain are just 1.1 kilometres away from a pub or bar, which is as close as they are to their nearest GP.

"We also found that 42% of people are within 1km of their nearest gambling outlet.

"These statistics reveal troubling issues with the neighbourhoods we live in and how they may be damaging to our health."