Yesterday was the regular meeting of our local community forum. The meeting is chaired by an old friend of mine who is a well respected ex councillor. Usually these meetings are a very civilised affair with residents and councillors able to have their say in open forum on a variety of local issues. Yesterday a young guy (well anyone under fifty is young to me) came along with a chip on his shoulder larger than a mature oak tree. I’ll call him Mr. Mouth because I don’t know his name. He interrupted, had to have his say on pretty much everything until the chair became exasperated by his attitude and much to the relief of the rest of us, firmly put him in his place. I mention this in passing because at that stage I thought it was the warm up act to when the man from the Primary Care Trust (PCT) came to give his update on our clinic.
My strategy was a listening role and then if things had stalled to rally the campaign troops for the next stage protest. This however may not be necessary. The news appeared to be all good. The PCT are on board, the Council are on board discussions with Doctors have been favourable. The PCT are waiting for a decision from LIFT Co on the building work contracts and a meeting has been set up to run by local councillors the plans. The last bit of that last sentence is the problem. I have mentioned before my concerns that councillors from adjoining wards were attempting to scupper the plans for the benefit of their wards. Well their views came out into the open loud and clear yesterday. I don’t normally mention people directly by name on this blog but in this case I think it is necessary. Cllr. Smith(LD Great Barr with Yew Tree) who I would think must have been a classically trained actress sat there with doleful eyes full of care and concern and complained that because of this development her ward was likely to be neglected. I’ll come back to that in a minute. Her buddy Cllr. Wilson then interjected in support of Cllr. Smith’s argument and claimed the facilities at Tanhouse would not be used much. This statement caused uproar in the room and I thought there was going to be a lynching (give me the rope). When the uproar quietened I was given the opportunity to redress her remarks (bang goes my policy of a watching brief). She then went into a long dialogue trying to justify what she had said which only dug the hole deeper. Their plot was revealed. I happily carried on with my watching brief.
The hypocrisy of their argument though is worth highlighting. Their ward Great Barr with Yew Tree is a long one geographically. In the South they have the Scott Arms which has within about 400yards walk, four doctors surgeries (two of which are group practises) three dentists and a load of other medical stuff. To the North in Yew Tree they have a brand new HEALTH CENTRE which is very poorly utilised. Can I suggest Cllrs that you spend your time more productively helping to get your Health Centre at Yew Tree operating properly and look closely at what you already have? Look at the very poor facilities we have south of the canal and support our Clls to get this facility which is so badly need operational. I have to say I am disappointed at your attitude and your behaviour. To me though it strengthens the argument for Cllrs living in the wards they represent. Our Cllrs who do live in the ward know the problems we face first hand you two cannot possibly understand what is going on in Newton South of the canal. I think the citizens of Newton Ward need to be made aware of this plan. These Cllrs. Are going to be at the meeting to hear the plans and sadly I’m excluded but I will get feed back. Mr. Mouths input to this debate because he had to have one, was to query car parking facilities for our clinic. He had earlier walked in via the car which in its present form is better than any of the other local facilities and adequate for our needs. He had completely missed the real campaign which is going on here.
Oh Lord please give me strength and time to continue with this fight.
I emailed this text to the leader of the Lib Dems for her comments which follow. Thank you Joyce for permission to publish.
Oh what a tangled web we weave!
Locally elected Councillors are expected to fight to obtain services for their respective constituents.
If you were a Councillor in Great Barr Ward you would be thinking would the establishment of a clinic in Hamstead mean the proposed clinic in Great Barr would not go ahead. Could the PCT use the current economic climate to pull the plug?
I'm sure they do not wish to scupper the plans for the clinic at the Tanhouse Centre but are purely protecting the interests of their constituents.
Yes Newton Councillors do understand the problems with poor health services south of the canal but Newton Ward also covers a substantial area to the north of the canal. We have just as much responsibility to ensure services are delivered to them too.
You know the support I have given to the set up of a clinic in Hamstead because besides giving us the services we need it will hopefully attract GPs and keep established ones in the area.
Councillor Mary Wilson was questioning how much notice the PCT would take of the public consultation. The reason she asked was due to her experience of the Yew Tree Healthy Living Centre where residents wishes were ignored. Services were brought in which residents didn't want but the PCT thought should be there. Her question was would residents use the clinic at Tanhouse if the PCT followed the same lines.
Unfortunately I think we were all worse for wear after a long meeting and what was seen as an important item on the agenda should have been heard earlier - we have our young friend to thank for that. However it is good to see younger people there.
You can print my response but please don't be selective!
When you consider the facilities already available for both Newton and Great Barr north of the canal this argument does not stand up. I would agree that they should be campaigning for their wards but not at the expense of the bigger picture and certainly not where there is such an imbalance of services. It’s the politics of greed.