Thursday, 20 September 2018

Watchdog group to meet over hospital

THE Townlands Steering Group is to meet for the first time this year. The committee, which was set up to

THE Townlands Steering Group is to meet for the first time this year. The committee, which was set up to give residents a say in the redevelopment of Henley’s Townlands Hospital, will discuss progress following series of delays over several years.

Work is finally due to start within weeks on a new £8.7million “health campus”, which will have 18 beds as well as the new Sue Ryder hospice and a 64-bed care home to replace Chilterns End.

Former Henley mayor Barry Wood, who used to chair the steering group, has called on the current chairman, town councillor Ian Reissmann, to convene it so the public can ask questions.

Dr Wood is now chairman of UNITED!, a pressure groups which has called for the hospital to be rebuilt on the site of the Waterman’s allotments in Reading Road.

“I think a meeting is urgently needed,” he told a meeting of the town council on Tuesday. “The Townlands Steering Group is not the personal fiefdom of its chairman - it’s your committee and you call the shots as to when it meets.”

Although it is chaired by a councillor, the steering group has members from a number of community groups.

Cllr Reissmann said: “It is a cause for frustration but I am continuing to monitor the situation through my NHS contacts and still have reason to believe the contract will be signed and the work will start by the end of October.

“Dr Wood wants us to reconvene so we can consider delaying the project and resiting it to the allotments but there is no support for this within the community.We have no reason to recall the group — there is nothing new to discuss. We just have to be patient and continue to monitor, scrutinise and pressurise the people who are carrying out the work.

But Councillor Jeni Wood, Dr Wood’s wife, said: “We should have a steering group meeting to exchange opinions and to show we have nothing to hide. There’s no harm — most committees have an annual general meeting at the very least, so I would welcome it.

“People in the town have been kept in the dark about what’s happening. I’ve heard so many people saying they don’t believe it will ever happen. They aren’t hearing anything and as a result they are fearing the worst.”

Following a discussion, the council resolved to call the steering group together on a date to be decided.

Afterwards, Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “The group should have a meeting, if only to get everyone around a table to discuss the situation.”

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