Axminster Conservative says I’m ‘scaremongering’, but he knows that Seaton Hospital has remained in limbo ever since his colleagues ditched our beds

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In a tweet responding to my Nub News article about NHS Property Services’ offering the Seaton Hospital site for housing development, Axminster Conservative candidate Ian Hall has accused me of ‘scaremongering’.

However Ian was present at County Hall three and a half years ago, when his Tory colleagues voted down our last chance to block the closure of Seaton’s beds – in the full knowledge that the CCG together with NHS Property Services, which owns all East Devon’s community hospitals, was preparing an ‘estates strategy’ to identify surplus sites to be sold off. He also knows that at the time, his Conservative government was offering incentives to NHS organisations to identify such sites.

So Ian should not be surprised that it has now emerged, via the Midweek Herald, that NHS Property Services offered our site for development and that this offer is even now being presented to EDDC’s Strategic Planning Committee as one of the options for meeting the excessive house-building targets which his Government has, on top of everything, imposed on East Devon.

Ian may not be worried that NHS PS were also offering up a quarter of the Axminster site, but I expect many of the people of Axminster, who like us in Seaton actually paid for their hospital, will have different ideas – and may well turn to Independent candidate Paul Hayward, who will actually stick up for them, instead.

in Seaton, where NHS PS put up half the site, everyone understands that if 14 houses are built, the Hospital will no longer exist. As I made clear in my article, there is no specific closure proposal. But the information confirms that we have been right all along to be alarmed. Perhaps if there is no scare, NHS Property Services will officially take the offer off the table?

Ian is right of course that we need to cooperate in a health plan for the Axe Valley, also involving Lyme Regis, with both Axminster and Seaton hospitals. But the Triangular Health Forum he mentions has hardly got off the ground despite years of intermittent talk. Meanwhile, until the vaccination programme, Seaton Hospital remained in limbo, almost half empty, still all too ripe for the asset-strippers.

Minister tells Neil Parish community hospitals should have a ‘central role’ – will he give the CCG the message and, more importantly, the funding?

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The Minister of State for Health, Edward Argar MP said in response to a question from Parish:

‘Community hospitals are a hugely valuable and valued part of our health and care system. As we have seen during the pandemic, they have played a vital role in providing intermediate care for patients not yet well enough to return home and play a much broader role year-in year-out to the communities they serve. While it is for local communities to make decisions on specific local services, we are clear that our community hospitals should continue to play a central role in healthcare provision for many years to come.’

NHS Property Services offered Seaton Hospital as a site for housing development – the threat to local services continues

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A new report shows Seaton Hospital’s owners, the government-owned company NHS Property Services, offered it as a possible site for housing development.

My Nub News article explains the context and the threat the community faces.

Photo: protest at County Hall in 2017 when the Conservatives on Devon Health Scrutiny Committee voted down an attempt to protect the hospital’s beds.

My campaign for a second term representing Seaton and Colyton on Devon County Council

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Four years ago you elected me to be the County Councillor for the Seaton and Colyton area. On May 6th, I’m asking you to support me for a second term. I’ve worked hard to improve things, supported many local causes and helped with people’s problems. I’ve helped push the County to complete the cycle route in the Wetlands, towards a policy of allowing 20 mph zones in town and village centres (if local people want them – councils are aiming for them in Seaton, Colyton, Colyford, Beer and Offwell), and to aim to become carbon-neutral by 2030.

I helped the Colyton community save its fire station, which means that our whole area has kept the two engines we need to keep safe. I’ve been working with the Wilmington and Offwell communities to tame speeding on the A35, and with Colyford people over the A3052. I’ve helped get some of the worst rural roads fixed, although underfunding and inefficiency mean that far too many problems remain.

Above all, however, you elected me to save Seaton Community Hospital. The cause is half won – we lost the beds, but our campaign stopped NHS managers from closing the hospital altogether. Now it’s got a new lease of life as a vaccination centre – but we need to get its long term future agreed.

Please vote for me on May 6th, so that I can finish the job.

Re-elect MARTIN SHAW, your INDEPENDENT East Devon Alliance County Councillor.

Outside Seaton Hospital, with my fellow East Devon Alliance INDEPENDENT councillors, Dan Ledger (left) and Jack Rowland

Health Scrutiny finally refers Teignmouth community hospital closure to Secretary of State, but some hardline Tories still opposed

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After voting down my proposal to refer Devon CCG’s proposals at the January Scrutiny meeting – in favour of seeking purely informal advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel which advises the Health Secretary on these issues – the Committee yesterday voted to refer, by 11 votes to 2.

The Panel had told them that informal advice would not be appropriate at this stage, and following overwhelmingly community pressure including the local MP, the Committee was left with little choice but to use its formal powers. Two hardline Tories, including Exmouth’s Richard Scott, nevertheless prevented the decision being unanimous.

In my contribution, I argued that these pre-pandemic proposals need to be reviewed in the light of the much greater health needs which we are now aware of.

In echoes of the Seaton and Honiton bed closures in 2017 – which Health Scrutiny refused to refer – campaigners emphasised that the community would be left without local intermediate care given the lack of even nursing homes in Teignmouth.

Join Thursday’s mass slow handclap in protest over insulting NHS 1% pay rise

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SOLIDARITY with NHS nurses, doctors and other staff who have risked their lives for us allonly to be fobbed off with a below-inflation rise. Story here (photo Daily Mirror).

Austerity is back, and the budget cut to the NHS is a warning to Devon

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Rishi Sunak’s budget envisages reductions in spending for public services, including the NHS, over the next few years, as well a return later in the year to the lower level of Universal Credit. By not raising tax thresholds, he increasing the real levels of income tax for most people, and by not addressing social care funding he is forcing councils to raise Council Tax by 5 per cent.

It’s clear that this is an austerity budget for public services and the living standards of all except the rich – he failed to introduce any new taxes on wealth, and by extending the stamp duty holiday is pushing house prices ever higher, putting house purchase further out of reach for young people.

Obviously Mr Sunak – who was behind the disastrous early lifting of pandemic restrictions last summer and the failure to lock down in September, which has cost tens of thousands of lives – has learned nothing from the last year. He is not interested in ensuring that the NHS is able to cope with the next pandemic. As far as Devon is concerned, this probably means that NHS managers will be looking for cuts again soon, and there could be new threats to our community hospitals round the corner.

Why is Devon’s Labour party supporting the Tories’ standstill, austerity budget?

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At Devon County Council on Thursday, Labour leader Cllr Rob Hannaford (left) commended the Conservatives’ budget as ‘full of Labour values’, and all the Labour councillors then voted for it, except one who abstained. Lib Dem, Independent and Green councillors voted against.

The budget did, it is true, provide increased funding for adult and children’s social care – but overwhelmingly to meet increased demand and rising costs, not to improve services – and then funded by a massive Council Tax rise which is unfair to many residents.

In other service areas, like Highways and Libraries, the budget meant standstill funding, reflecting the austerity which – despite Boris Johnson’s claims to have ended it – still applies to local government. If this reflects Labour values, I’ll eat my hat.

I’m old enough to remember when Conservatives stood for lower taxes – but in Devon they’re raised Council Tax above inflation for the 6th year in a row, partly to put money in reserves

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At the County Council on Thursday, the Tory majority led by Cllr John Hart (right) voted for a 4.99 per cent increase in Council Tax, 3 per cent of which is to fund social care after the Government pushed the extra costs of the service onto councils, rather than provide funding from national taxation.

This is the 6th above-inflation rise in a row and brings the 6-year increase to around 30 per cent. General inflation is 0.7 per cent and public sector wages are limited to 1 per cent rises.

The Tories voted down Liberal Democrat and Independent proposals to take money from reserves to improve other services and our (the Independents’) to cancel the general rise in Council Tax (1.99 per cent) this year, in view of the 3 per cent rise for social care. Reserves are needed to deal with uncertainty about future funding, partly because the Government won’t give councils proper medium-term spending allocations. So the Government is leaving councils’ finances at risk and then getting Council Tax payers to pay more to top up councils’ bank balances to cover the risks they are helping to create!

At Devon County Council, the Conservative majority blocked discussion of my call to make the 6th May elections safe and fair

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See this report from Devon Live.

And note my new logo – NOW is the time to REGISTER TO VOTE (you can do this online).

If you’re on the register, you can APPLY FOR A POSTAL VOTE – you can’t apply online, which was what I was complaining about, but only print off an application form. If you haven’t got a printer, ring EDDC on  01395 517402 for an application form.