CAMPAIGNERS have slammed council efforts to get people fitter and off the booze as “bad value for money”.

They say that a third of councils do not check the cost effectiveness of public health initiatives, like schemes to stop people smoking.

Campaign group Taxpayers Alliance said that local councils spent £230 million on obesity, smoking and alcohol programmes in 2015/16. Out of 171 councils they contacted, 50 did not measure the cost effectiveness of their programmes.

Swindon councillors spent £1.1million on public health schemes in 2015/16 – the third lowest figure out of all South West councils that handed over their data.

Health chiefs in Swindon do track the cost effectiveness of their schemes.

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “We constantly review the effectiveness of our commissioned public health services to ensure they are providing the best value for money while, at the same time, improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for those people in Swindon who need them most.”

John O'Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "Taxpayers have had enough of being told what to eat, drink and how to spend their leisure time. Education and information will mean that people can make up their own minds without the need for expensive and meddlesome projects."

In August, the Adver revealed that the council spent almost £1,000 on anti-smoking therapies for each person who successfully quit.

Figures released by the NHS in August revealed that £327,000 was spent on services, therapies and drugs designed to stop people smoking in 2016-17.

Of the 1,070 people who set themselves a date by which time they planned to stop smoking, just 330 said that they had successfully quit.

It means that last year £991 was spent for each smoker who quit – up £150 on the previous year.

At the time Cherry Jones, Swindon Borough Council’s public health director, said: “Supporting people to quit smoking is a priority in Swindon and during 2016-17 we have redesigned the Swindon stop smoking services to make them more accessible for those that need them and reflect the way that people want support to quit smoking.”

The proportion of Swindon residents who smoke has halved since 2007. Around 15 per cent of the town’s residents are smokers currently.