'I was right to stop land sell-off'

A DISTRICT councillor has heavily criticised health chiefs, claiming he was right to prevent them selling off land for housing to raise £3 million.Albert Pearce defended his decision to hamper the West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust's plans to sell off land in Sudbury, stating he was acting on behalf of his constituents.

A DISTRICT councillor has heavily criticised health chiefs, claiming he was right to prevent them selling off land for housing to raise £3 million.

Albert Pearce defended his decision to hamper the West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust's plans to sell off land in Sudbury, stating he was acting on behalf of his constituents.

Hospitals bosses have announced that a further 40 jobs will be cut at the Bury St Edmunds hospital in a bid to ease a £20 million deficit.

Trust chief executive Chris Bown said the hospital had intended to sell off the land at Harp's Close Meadow for an estimated £3 million but had been scuppered by Mr Pearce after he applied to turn the site into a village green.


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But the man at the centre of the storm was unrepentant, claiming the land - commonly known as People's Park - had been part of the town for more than 100 years.

Mr Pearce said: “When I was elected as a district councillor I vowed to fight to save People's Park as I know this is what the people of Sudbury wanted. Over the years, there has been a huge strength of feeling towards this issue - it has been used by residents in the town for 130 years.”

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Mr Pearce, who is also a town councillor, has submitted an application to Suffolk County Council to have the land registered as a village green.

He added: “The progress of this campaign was only made possible due to the support of my many constituents. More than 80 submissions of objection were sent to last year's local planning inquiry, the results of which are about to be published.

“I must give special praise to Jill Fisher and ex-borough surveyor Peter Blackwell who have guided me with local knowledge and expertise.”

A spokesman for the West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust said: “As we cannot benefit from the sale of the land this year, this money will have to be found elsewhere.

“The trust has identified that it will need to make savings in a number of areas, including its wages bill, to the equivalent of 40 posts. Should the board agree to this, we hope to be able to do this through freezing vacancies, redeployment, and voluntary redundancy.

“However, we cannot rule out compulsory redundancies. We have started work to identify which posts will be affected and we are looking across the board.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “An application for the land to be registered as a village green has been made to the county council, as the registration authority. This registration is now being processed.”

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