Sidmouth GPs may lose �600k DCC money

Sidmouth doctors warned they have a week to decide on health centre plans or lose earmarked cash

DOCTORS in Sidmouth were warned this week they had a week to “sort themselves out” over what they plan to do about replacing Blackmore Health Centre.

Speaking from County Hall yesterday, Sidmouth, Sidford County Councillor Stuart Hughes warned medics that the �600,000, earmarked for refurbishment of Sidmouth Library, was under threat from other portfolio holders “because of these austere times”.

DCC cabinet member, Councillor Roger Croad, added: “We’ve had that chunk of money in the capital programme for four years for Sidmouth Library and have been holding off for some number of years because the health centre wants part of the site to rebuild the centre.

“It’s annoying the health centre doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind.

“East Devon District Council has offered them an alternative site but they just want to build where they are, which clearly, if they want to upgrade, means they will have to demolish the library.”

Mr Hughes said: “The doctors have got a week, seven days, to sort themselves out or there will not be any money. I warned them when they got up at the town council meeting [some months ago]. Now it is up to them.

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“I have had that money for four years and doctors have still not sorted themselves out, they keep coming back with different plans.”

He said he would try to ensure the money was spent on improvements to the present library building rather than lose it.

Mr Croad said the surgery, if it wanted to demolish the current health centre and library to build larger premises, would have to “raise the money to build a new library.”

With “great pressure” on DCC’s capital programme, he warned a chunk of the �600,000 “may go somewhere else”.

He said: “We are desperately looking to upgrade the library management system which is very dated and needs to be updated.”

Some of the earmarked money could be used for this, which would improve management of the 50 libraries across the whole of Devon.

Blackmore Health Centre doctors and practice manager were unavailable for comment yesterday (Thursday), but an NHS Devon spokesman said: “We would not be in a position to make a decision in the next week.”

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