‘New health centre and library’ call in Sidmouth

Doctors call for developers cash for major rebuilds

DEVELOPERS’ cash must be utilised to provide Sidmouth with a state-of-the-art health centre and new library that will serve residents for decades to come.

That is the message from hard-working doctors and staff who treat more than 1,000 patients a week at the town’s current cramped premises- ranked the most under-sized in East Devon.

They say funds from the possible replacement of the Fortfield Hotel, and other developments, should be used to relocate and completely rebuild Sidmouth Library on the nearby Blackmore Drive car park to allow for construction of a brand new health centre to span the entire site currently occupied by both buildings.

“Such a move would ensure Sidmouth has first-class and flagship library and health facilities for the next 25 years,” said practice manager Rob Spargo.

He added plans for a new health centre, 10 to 15 years in the making, feature disabled parking and a drop-off point. “If any development is to take place, it’s clear this is only likely to occur if there is sufficient funding. It appears opportune that the Fortfield site is likely to be developed with a payment of �1.5million to local benefits,” added Dr Duncan Hall.

“Funding should go towards the library redevelopment, which would bridge the deficit, and allow us to redevelop the health centre using the NHS funding route. We need a public debate about what that money (from the Fortfield) should be spent on,” said Dr Ross Dell.

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Both doctors and Mr Spargo said the Blackmore Drive car park, shared by the health centre and the library, is “abused” by people who park for free but don’t use either facility. The district council would need to sanction any development on this site. Devon County Council will decide the fate of the town’s library. Anne Everest-Phillips, a member of the health centre’s Patient Participation Forum, labelled the premises’ lowly ranking as “a disgrace.”

She said: “Doctors are actually looking after people in cupboards. We’ve got a group of really well qualified and caring staff there. They are just stuck.”