SIR - The only obstacle stopping the redevelopment of the Sidmouth Health Centre is the intransigent attitude of Devon Libraries.
The ultimatum given in last week’s Herald to use it or loose it is nothing less than attempted blackmail by Devon Libraries and Councillor Croad in particular.
Devon libraries have recently been provided with outline plans showing how the existing site could be developed to provide both a new library and a health centre that would cater not just for the present requirements but would have enough expansion potential to cover the requirements for the next 50 years or more.
The proposed development shows the new health centre located in the position of the existing library, (which Cllr Croad has always objected to). By locating the health centre in this position it is possible to provide 3 disabled parking bays and 2 drop-off points, all of which would be available to library users, and also allow ambulance access which is a fundamental requirement that would not be possible if the medical facilities were to be extended in the present location.
The proposed new library would be sited in the area currently occupied by Sidmouth Health Centre and would have a feature entrance at a prime vision point when approaching from the Parish Church, and the triangle bus stops, also from the footpath alongside the rugby ground.
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The entrance would also be immediately after turning into the site having come past the hospital and in front of May Terrace, which is the route taken by passenger alighting from the bus at All Saints Road. Access from the existing car park would be alongside the new development, similar to that for the current health centre but with the entrance to the library made more dominant.
It is also important to realise that the necessity to locate the new health centre on the existing site is that the doctors are on constant call from the hospital, which does not have any independent doctors. There are no other sites in Sidmouth which can provide this immediate response, which in some situations could be the difference between life and death for any of us in the future.
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Copies of the latest proposals have been available to Cllr Croad since a meeting held at Sidmouth Health Centre two weeks ago, which was attended by a representative of Devon Libraries. Their present intransigent attitude is putting the medical wellbeing of the people of Sidmouth at risk for no reason. Despite emails from the doctors to Devon Libraries, they have, to date, not received even the courtesy of an acknowledgement let alone a response.
The cost of building and fitting out a new library is well in excess of the �600,000 available from Devon Libraries but the Patients Participation Group has promised to assist in raising the difference. The threat of ‘respond within seven days’ (TO WHAT?) or we will spend the money elsewhere, is not only totally unreasonable, it is the equivalent of a child having a tantrum and throwing its rattle out of the pram.
I would call on all the residents of Sidmouth, who all rely on the Health Centre, to lobby their Town Councillors, as well as EDDC and Devon Councillors, to put pressure on Devon Libraries to stop obstructing the very realistic current proposals.
If this TOTALLY unnecessary obstruction can be removed, it is possible that the redevelopment could be started towards the end of 2012 or early 2013.
Ian Maxwell Scott
19 Sidvale Close, Sidford