Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Letter to the journal, Library

At the recent extraordinary town council meeting, the councillors made some really important decisions in regard to trying to retain the library in the centre of Shepton.

Any decision to remove the Library from our town centre will damage the viability and vitality of its economic well being. We know that one of the problems Shepton has, is low high street footfall, I believe it is irresponsible of Somerset county council to take the 44000 visits to the library out of the town centre.

Our community supports the library with good visitor numbers, we have excellent professional staff that do a greatjob. I want the town council to help build on what is currently delivered, we should explore all options in the greatest details, unlike the county council’s light touch table top examination of premises.

It is clear that a modern high street must deliver a mixture of shops, businesses and community facilities, libraries should be in the heart of our community, delivering a wide range of services that meets the needs of our town.

The county council will be holding a library consultation in the new year and it is important that all residents contribute to this, we cannot allow deals behind closed doors to go unchallenged.

I’m sure the town council who unanimously agreed to undertake a study to try a town centre home for our library will work to deliver just that.

It will be for the town council to lead this process, but it is important that our community supports keeping the library in the heart of our town, councils have a duty for the economic well being of our town centres, I fear both the county and district councils are more concerned with financial transactions than delivering community services in the heart of our town

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Shepton's health problem

It is a very real disappointment that the beds are be cut from our community hospital and the nursing staff will be deployed elsewhere.

I fear this decision has been coming for quite a while now, these decisions are not an act of God but a failing in planning and investment.

Shepton Community Hospital has not received the investment it deserves to upgrade the in-bed facilities, this despite a huge community appetite to see our local hospital grow and provide services that enhance the health and well being in our area. The NHS has failed to support many bids to improve our hospital.

There is absolutely no doubt that the staff at the hospital  serve our community and are brilliant professionals. It is also clear that there is a staffing crisis in the NHS, with more people leaving than joining.

The government enforced pay cap has seen the pay packets of nurses thousands of pounds worse off in real terms, with dramatically increased workloads, and as the RCN says “leaving staff feeling demoralised and disillusioned”.

The abolition by this government of the bursaries for nursing training to be replaced by £9000 a year loans has seen dramatic falls in those entering the nursing profession, deterring the very sort of people who have the empathetic skills. It is estimated that nationally the NHS has 55000 fewer nurses than we need.

We are also losing some European staff from the NHS, this since our decision to leave the EU.

It is patently obvious to anyone that our acute hospitals are going to be stretched to breaking point this winter, we know that community care in Somerset is not capable of delivering the support that many people need, this due to a mixture of underfunding by national government in relent years and a failure of effective planning by Somerset county council.

There is a need for beds for some local people in our community hospital, and I fear without investment in buildings and staff, Shepton Mallet will forever lose these beds. The choice for people in our  town is, are we going to except this? If you are not then we better say so and say so loudly.