Bid to make Ottery Hospital a community asset rejected

PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 September 2018

Ottery St Mary Hospital entrance. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry Ife

Ottery St Mary Hospital entrance. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry Ife

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A decision to not make Ottery Hospital a community asset has been slammed as ‘preposterous’ and ‘deeply regrettable’ by supporters.

Ottery St Mary Hospital entrance. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry IfeOttery St Mary Hospital entrance. Ref sho 7454-44-14TI Picture: Terry Ife

East Devon District Council (EDDC) said the building did not meet the definition of a ‘community asset’ or the aspect of ‘social wellbeing’ under the Localism Act 2011 – which would apply to buildings such as community centres, libraries, swimming pools, village shops, markets and pubs.

Campaigner Philip Algar, who called on Ottery Town Council to apply for the status in May, said he was disappointed with the decision.

Mr Algar added: “A pub could be considered as a community asset for contributing social wellbeing whereas a hospital does not, that is quite preposterous. The contribution the hospital does make to social wellbeing of people in this large area is huge.

“Being a community asset was two things, at best a delay tactic and two it told people we are doing our damndest [to save it]. We have lost on both those points.”

The town council had applied for the status to try to grant the building protection from threat of being sold off.

Since 2015, the hospital has lost its minor injuries unit and community beds.

EDDC said the hospital was a valuable resource and served the wider community but did not fit ‘social wellbeing’ criteria which looks at the interaction and relationships within the community.

The decision notice said: “Taking all of the above into account, it is my opinion that Ottery St Mary Hospital does not play a role in promoting cultural, recreational or sporting interest and as such does not meet the test that it furthers the social interest of the community.”

At a recent council meeting Mayor Paul Bartlett said it would be ‘good money after bad’ to launch a judicial review to overturn the decision.

Cllr Roger Giles told the Herald: “It is deeply regrettable that Ottery St Mary Hospital lost its in-patient beds. Whilst the hospital remains for health use, there is always the possibility of reinstatement of beds.

“Designating the hospital as an asset of community value would have made it more unlikely that the hospital buildings could be disposed of by the health authorities. It is therefore very disappointing that EDDC did not agree to make the designation.”

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