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Tony Allen

A public consultation should be just that

Mon 11 Mar 2013

By Tony Allen

As a Town Councillor, I’m very aware of the pressure members of the public can exert when the council appears to be doing something (real or imaginary) that they disagree with. You will all be aware of the fuss generated when certain individuals wanted you to believe that Sainsburys was coming to town, which was countered by a proper public consultation managed independently by the Community Council of Devon. The results of this consultation have been widely publicised with a new primary school and community facilities being the preferred option for the fields along theLe Molay-Littry Way. The people have had their say!

By contrast, the anxiety caused to some residents by development proposals for building at Bradley Bends, meant that Teignbridge Council was pressurised by them at a very late stage to take this potential development land out of the Teignbridge Local Plan. This of course means that residents in theIndioand Challabrook areas in particular are now likely to be subjected to development that they won’t want. I certainly don’t remember all residents being fully consulted about this situation, where one side of town seems to me to have got special consideration at the expense of another. Recent events show this one still has some way to go!

Discussing the matter of consultation further, at the time of writing this I have been somewhat disappointed with the extent of the so-called public consultation about the proposals by the Torbay & Southern Devon NHS Trust to close Bovey Tracey hospital for inpatients from April, and seemingly lack of public response to this. While people seemed very keen to set up public meetings to protest about “rumours about Sainsburys”, where was the same concern about the hospital, which some would view as a much more serious issue? The one public meeting held in Bovey did draw in around 100 or so attendees, many of them current and past employees at the hospital, and members of families whose relatives had been nursed there, many at the end of their lives. For them, this is quite rightly a very emotional issue.

It was made quite clear at the meeting that the decision to close the beds and transfer them to Newton Abbot hospital was in effect already made. If that is the case, the “public consultation” was really about finding out people’s responses to this and the issues it raises. The NHS Trusts are of course public sector bodies, but unlike councils, are not elected and cannot be held to democratic account in the ballot box. I think we do understand that this issue is driven by financial constraints, particularly the £2.4 million annual cost of funding the Private Finance Initiative commitment for the building and equipping of the new Newton Abbot hospital. Also we recognise the mandatory procurement requirement for the Trust to achieve Best Value. However we should all be concerned that these were the sorts of pressures that are reported to have caused the disgraceful situation atStaffordHospitalwhere finance and meeting targets were deemed more important than patient care.

What the public can and should now be properly consulted about is what new alternative services could be introduced at the hospital. Of course, whatever is chosen, these services have to be paid for by the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys them from the Trust from its limited budget. Is it too much to ask therefore that a responsible group in the town organise itself to establish a proper public consultation about this? This could be the Hospital League of Friends or other non-commercial stakeholders in the health, care and wellbeing needs of the Bovey Tracey area. The Trust’s Consultation document (November 2012) lists a number of options for consideration in Section 7.1 (page 27 of 35).

This is where the present so-called consultation could really become a proper Public Consultation. Both the NHS Trust and the people of Bovey Tracey could then together create something they really do require and want in our hospital for the long-term.  

QUEEN’S DIAMOND JUBILEE VOLUNTEERING AWARDS&&&

In a country where we are all subject to the impact of austerity measures, and the constant moaning about loss of public and private services that have resulted, I was particularly cheered to read about the sixty Volunteering Awards celebrating the positive contributions by tens of thousands of ordinary folk to our communities throughout the sixty years of Her Majesty’s reign.

The shame is that most people are totally unaware of these awards at all. For some reason, the press and news media have totally ignored what should be hailed as “good news” and a magnificent achievement by very unselfish community-minded people throughout the land.

While I have pointed out elsewhere the amazingly wide extent of the Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) movement (one of the award winners) in promoting crime reduction and safer communities, including of course here in Bovey Tracey, there are other organisations that received this award also well worthy of mention, many represented locally.

Here are some of them:  Age UK, British Red Cross, British Youth Council, Coastguard Rescue Service, Girl Guides, Guard Dogs for the Blind, Make a Wish Foundation, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Maritime Volunteers, NSPCC, RNIB, RNLI, Sea Cadets, St John Ambulance, Sustrans Volunteers, Scout Association, Victim Support, Woodland Trust, British Cycling, England Hockey Board, England & Wales Cricket Board, Volleyball England, and the Olympics & Paralympics Volunteers.  The full list can be found at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/news/..... dated 12 December 2012.

So please let’s celebrate all these groups whose members freely give up their own time to help others and to try to make our society a much better one in which to live, work and play. There are so many other active smaller voluntary organisations here too, but I feel it would be unfair if I were to point out some of these and not others. If I’ve made you feel you should get involved with one or more of our many voluntary and charitable activities, that’s good. On page 2 of this magazine there’s a list of large and small organisations in the area that might welcome your participation, so please make contact with one of them right now! I’m a great believer that you only get out of something that which you’re prepared to put in, and you can’t always just leave things to other people. Thank you to all you volunteers everywhere!

JUNK FOOD&&&&

Well, the horse meat scandal has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons! If ever there was a case to show the value of using your local butcher, where you can know the source and benefit from the quality of meat provided, this is it. Cheap pre-prepared packaged dishes probably have very little nutritional value, and in my view are a false economy, so caveat emptor (buyer beware)! I still remember the tinned salmon andNorfolk turkey health scares only too well. When feeding the nation, I feel supermarkets and the Food Standards Agency need to exercise their responsibilities more carefully than they seem to have done of late.

Tony Allen is a Bovey Tracey Town Councillor & Leader of the Bovey NHW Forum. This column is written in a personal capacity and not on behalf of any particular group or organisation.



Other columns by Tony Allen

TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” - Tue 9 Nov 2021
TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” GETTING INVOLVED WITH YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL - Mon 2 Aug 2021
TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” BOVEY THANKS VOLUNTEERS & “LIFELINE” SHOPS - Mon 14 Jun 2021
TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” BREATHS OF FRESH AIR ALL AROUND - Tue 7 Jul 2020
TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” COMMUNITY COHESION………………… - Tue 11 Feb 2020
CLIMATE ACTION: WHERE DO YOU START?.......... - Mon 2 Dec 2019
WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON IN OUR LOCAL COUNCILS…? - Thu 1 Aug 2019
BOVEY TRACEY ACHIEVES “PLASTIC FREE” STATUS........... - Fri 3 May 2019
IDEAS & SUGGESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE........ - Thu 24 Jan 2019
COMMUNITY MATTERS - “PLASTIC FREE BOVEY”, RARE PRAISE, ELECTIONS - Thu 8 Nov 2018
Young people in the community - Thu 15 May 2014
Moving Bovey Tracey forward - Tue 4 Mar 2014
Is Bovey Tracey too shabby and run down to attract visitors? - Mon 9 Sep 2013
Athletes, young people and rural watch - Tue 13 Nov 2012
Bovey Beats Most Of The Summer Weather - Wed 5 Sep 2012
What sort of Town do you want Bovey to be? - Sun 1 Jul 2012
Awards, Traffic, Policing & another Top Shop! - Thu 3 May 2012
GOOD NEWS, SPECULATION, AND MORE GOOD NEWS - Thu 5 Jan 2012
RUBBISH, SPEED, LIGHTS OUT, BADGERS and more! - Mon 7 Nov 2011
Newspapers, Tragedy, Cheques and MORE! - Sun 11 Sep 2011
Community Matters - Mon 11 Jul 2011
Growth of Neighbourhood Watch In Bovey Tracey - Tue 3 May 2011
Which would you rather have: A PC (Police Commissioner) OR Several PCs (Police Constables)? - Thu 10 Mar 2011
Helping Ourselves In Time Of Austerity - Sun 9 Jan 2011
Security in the current Economic Climate - Thu 4 Nov 2010
Security Matters - Spelling it Out - Mon 6 Sep 2010
The Ultimate Deterrent or Not - Tue 6 Jul 2010
NHS Summary Care Records  Will Your Personal Health Information Be Secure? - Mon 3 May 2010
Social Networking - A risk or a good thing? - Sun 28 Feb 2010
Security Matters - Back to Basics! - Thu 3 Dec 2009
Security matters - are you being conned? - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security matters - ID cards and hotel key cards - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security matters - Personal security - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security Matters - Who owns your identity? - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security Matters - Victim of crime - need help? - Wed 4 Nov 2009


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