STOP news release 9th June2015
Westbury’s Sensible Thinking on Patients (STOP) Campaign Group was formed to fight for community justice to try to stop the proposed sale of the Westbury Community Hospital site.
Very recently STOP became aware of Wiltshire Councils Core Strategy Partial Review. Buried within this 108 page document is a seemingly minor proposal to extend the current settlement boundary for Westbury to incorporate all of the Westbury Hospital Development Site; currently about 40% of the development plot lies outside the settlement boundary.
If these changes are implemented it will make any planning application for the hospital site difficult to resist and will have effectively taken the democracy out of what should have been an open and honest process involving the community.
STOP are left wondering if the intent to bring a planning application, had not been lodged, whether Wiltshire Council would have included a change in the settlement boundary at this time?
The proposal, which is part of the Core Strategy Partial Review, was open to the public for consultation until the 26th May. STOP would have missed this vital information about the change in settlement boundary altogether if it had not been for the chance observations of a STOP member noticing a headline in a South Wiltshire free newspaper. The campaign group feels that it was poorly advertised as none of our local papers carried news of the review or proposed change in the settlement boundary and so only a very few Westbury residents had time to object to the proposal before the closing date. STOP are disappointed and appalled by Wiltshire Councils apparent hiding of this news and call upon the Council to be more proactive in notifying communities when they release consultations that might have implications for planning applications or similar proposals.
STOP urgently need all our supporters, and anyone who feels that the decision to sell Westbury’s hospital for profit is wrong, to write to Wiltshire Councils Planning Dept when the planning application for housing is submitted, clearly stating their objections – the more people who constructively object then the more chance we have of being heard as a community by Wiltshire Council. You can access the planning website of WC at HYPERLINK "http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/" www.wiltshire.gov.uk and search planning applications or you can write to Wiltshire Council Planning Department, County Hall, Bythesea Rd, Trowbridge BA14 8JN. As soon as the plans are submitted STOP will announce it on their website www.whitehorsewestbury.com. We also hope that all the local newspapers will alert readers.
In the meantime the STOP group continue to meet regularly and is busy organising public events to highlight our bid to stop the sale of your Community Hospital. These will be announced in the near future. We have already collected close to 2000 signatures on our petition Health Before Housing which is ongoing – if you would like to sign you can do so on line or in several of the High Street shops. If you would like to support the campaign by helping please add your email address and/or contact telephone number on the petition. STOP need more supporters willing to help and we look forward to hearing from you.
Wiltshire Councillor, Gordon King and other STOP members will be working with the Town Council, Wiltshire Council, White Horse Health Centre, the BA13 Community Area Partnership, Leighton Sports Centre and others, to collect and collate the evidence needed for a health and social care (extended care) facility that could be incorporated into any proposed development on the hospital site. This would retain the vital link between identified health care needs and the development of the site for the benefit of the Westbury Community.
The above working party’s plan is to use the 30% of the development that would normally be reserved for affordable housing into a single health facility which could provide a variety of services such as accommodation for the frail elderly; a restaurant, a treatment room, a therapy room (for physio or occupational therapy); and other health/social care spaces which could be used by Care Agencies and/or supported by other medical services. The object would be to help relieve the extreme pressures on the acute hospitals (e.g. bed blocking) by providing the intermediate care which is not available at present and which would help ease people back to their own homes when they can leave acute care, but are not well enough to go home.
STOP hope that the facility will be for everyone as it could incorporate services such as rehabilitation after surgery or other serious health conditions. The close geographical link with the Leighton Recreation Centre, which already provides support and expertise for health related conditions make this site an obvious choice to enhance and improve health services for the town.
This will be a major piece of work for the STOP campaign. Unless we can show very clearly that there is a need for a health related facility in the town Wiltshire Council’s planning dept might approve plans for the sale of the site for residential housing alone. If that happens the hospital which was donated to the Westbury area and financially supported by you by donations of well over 1 million pounds will be lost forever.
We are still collecting signatures for our on line petition so please sign up and encourage like minded supporters to do the same. STOP look forward to welcoming your support and help.