Campaigners fear time running out for island health centre

CAMPAIGNERS desperate to see the go-ahead of a state-of-the-art medical centre for an island community in Essex have warned time is running out.

James Hore

CAMPAIGNERS desperate to see the go-ahead of a state-of-the-art medical centre for an island community in Essex have warned time is running out.

Health bosses have given the green light for a much-needed new facility for Mersea Island to replace the outdated premises currently being used.

But progress towards the new development on Legion Field came unstuck earlier this year when an alleged verbal agreement with the town's British Legion club to release two car parking spaces needed for safe access to the site fell through.


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Pat Richardson, a Mersea resident who campaigned for the centre, has now handed over a 400-signature petition imploring the club to re-think its decision.

The petition warned the future health care of “everyone on the island” may be affected by the U-turn.

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Last night Mr Richardson warned changes to NHS funding processes meant work would have to begin by next spring or the money for the development could be lost.

Residents currently use a medical centre in Kingsland Road, built when the island's population was just 3,000 compared to the 7,000 who live there now - a number which can swell up to 15,000 due to summer holidaymakers.

If it does go ahead, the new development would include mother and baby care and enough space for doctors to carry out minor operations.

Under the agreement with the legion, the primary care trust would ensure the club would not lose any parking because more spaces would be provided at the rear of the building, along with a new partially covered beer garden.

The petition states: “We implore you please do not deprive every man woman and child on this beautiful island this possibly unrepeatable opportunity to get a new 21st century medical centre.

“The future health care of every one on this island may be affected by your decision, for all of our sakes please reconsider your decision, and help us to get a new medical centre, while funding is still available.”

Mr Richardson told the EADT he was awaiting a response, but said after providing all the information about the plans, he hoped they would take a new vote on the land release.

“The vast majority of people want the new medical centre - the population here is the second oldest in Essex, after Frinton, and there really is a need for it.

“We have to start work by spring 2010, so it is a race against time and this really makes it more difficult.

“This is the ideal site, no question about it, but it would be nice to know what the members are going to do because if they still vote against it, with all the facts they have been given, we will have to try to find another site,” he said.

No-one from the Royal British Legion club was available for comment yesterday.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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