Facility shock

SIR - At this month’s meeting of the Futures Forum (a sub-group of the Vision Group for Sidmouth), we discussed the problems of the Sidmouth Health Centre and Library, for the umpteenth time.

For years now, the doctors have tried to negotiate a way to provide improved, modern facilities for the Health Centre. We have recently learnt that the Health Centre facilities are rated the poorest in East Devon by a very long way. This is especially shocking since many people in Sidmouth are of an age when they really begin to need extensive support from the NHS.

The parties involved in this drawn out discussion all manage different public sector budgets on our behalf. The Councillors, Doctors and the Council employees have held endless meetings and put up barriers and excuses as to why no solution can be found.

NHS Devon has the money ready to build a modern 21st century Health Centre for Sidmouth. DCC had some capital for upgrading the Library buildings, but the councillors reallocated this to other projects in Devon, when no Sidmouth solution could be agreed on. All that DCC now offers is money to automate the library systems; there is nothing for improving the aged library building.

Meanwhile, who owns the other asset: the visitors’ car park – is it DCC, EDDC or NHS Devon? Despite being for use only by visitors to the Health Centre and Library, it is much abused by shoppers, shop workers and residents. This is a wasted asset, which, for example, could be used to build a Health Centre Annexe with a few disabled parking spaces.

There are plenty of other development options available, but it needs political and administrative leadership and joint management by all public sector leaders and executives to make it happen.

I cry shame on our local councillors and on the leaders and Chief Executives of EDDC, DCC and NHS Devon for allowing this disgraceful bickering and obstructive behaviour to drag on for many, many years. It’s about time they earned their salaries and stopped wasting our taxpayers’ money.

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Jo Frith

Flat 4, 6 Fortfield Terrace, Sidmouth