SIR - If the Fortfield Hotel site is redeveloped, as proposed, and this leads to the release of �1.5m for local purposes, such funds should NOT be deployed to finance the Sidmouth Health Centre.
To do so would be to confuse Private Sector investment with Public Sector liability.
Yes, of course, Sidmouth should have a quality, fit for purpose, Health Centre and, yes, it is totally unsatisfactory that the existing Centre ranks as being so inferior within East Devon. But, in addressing this issue, one needs to understand NHS responsibility and related financing.
The responsibility to provide appropriate facilities rests with the NHS and tenant medical practice, rather than with members of the local community. The capital cost of expanding and/or rebuilding an appropriate Health Centre is for the site owner and will be recovered by charging the tenant an increased rent. The NHS will provide finance equal to current market rent as determined independently by the District Valuer, thus ensuring the site owner an adequate return and relieving the tenant of occupancy cost. If, as is usual, the tenant incurs liability for repair, maintenance and insurance, this, too, will be funded by the NHS.
So, please, leave the prospective �1.5m for other local purposes for which the Public Sector cannot be held responsible.
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To this end, may I suggest re-developing the Drill Hall at Port Royal - if needs be supported by the �1.5m - to incorporate a community library, thus freeing space for the necessary Health Centre redevelopment.
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