COUNCIL chiefs are exploring ways in to restrict the number of takeaway outlets in Blackburn with Darwen.

The borough currently has 176 fast food restaurants, a figure which has drawn concerns from health commissioners.

Blackburn with Darwen is regularly highlighted as one of the least healthy boroughs in the country, with experts pointing to the high levels of alcohol and fatty foods being consumed.

Ron O’Keeffe, chairman of the council’s health overview and scrutiny committee, has called for tougher licensing and planning laws to help kerb the number of takeaways and off-licenses, saying councils should be given more powers to refuse applications.

And Dominic Harrison, the council’s director of public health, said: “Takeaway outlets placed in areas of high footfall mean the least healthy eating options are made available to more people more of the time.

“While we’re not opposed to people choosing what they eat, an over-abundance of fast food is harmful to health and long-term can cause a higher level of preventable disease such as cancer and heart disease.

“As a council we’re looking at what we can do to address the situation, including options to restrict applications for takeaways in certain circumstances, for example near schools.”

But Keyvan Fani, owner of the Godfather Pizza House in Darwen, said: “Takeaway food isn’t necessarily unhealthy. We make sure our menu has healthy options available, with things like granary and gluten-free pizza bases.

"We give our customers the option. I think we’re in a time now when people have very busy social lives and don’t always have time to cook. It’s all about what saves time and is efficient.”

A fast food worker in Blackburn town centre, who asked not to be named, said: “I don’t think there are too many. We get a lot of people coming in every day and we are really busy.

“Why would people come if there are too many?”