Setback for £2m plan to buy Seaton Hospital
PUBLISHED: 17:01 10 January 2020
District councillors have rejected proposals that could have seen Seaton Hospital saved and turned into a ‘health hub’ for the community.
The hospital's inpatient wards closed in 2017 and currently only 35 per cent of the building is occupied - a situation that is 'not tenable financially'.
The Valley View Road site is currently run by NHS Property Services, but community group Seaton Area Health Matters (SAHM) had put forward plans to buy the building and use it as a health hub for the community.
But East Devon District Council's (EDDC) Cabinet on Wednesday (January 8) rejected a recommendation from officers to loan SAHM £2.1m to enable the purchase of the site.
Instead they proposed that the organisation should make contact with Devon County Council (DCC), as the authority with the expertise and the responsibilities, to try and progress with their bid.
Supporters of the proposal reacted with disappointment after the decision but have said the hope that it can be rejuvenated by Devon County Council.
Cllr Jack Rowland, chairman of SAHM, said: "I'm obviously disappointed at the decision made by Cabinet regarding the proposed funding route via EDDC and a Public Works Loan, especially as Seaton Hospital League of Friends had approved, in principle, £0.5m towards the purchase.
"However, this is not the end of the story.
"The relevant Devon county councillors who were present and spoke on the subject have already been asked to seek a way forward via DCC in view of the comments made at the Cabinet meeting so I await with interest to hear the response as soon as possible.
"Everyone agreed that the idea and plan we put forward is good in principle and it's the source and method of funding the purchase that has created the situation we now face."
Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the Independent East Devon Alliance, said that the decision of the Independent Cabinet, which runs the council, was 'incredibly disappointing'.
He said: "They went through a script - clearly agreed before the meeting - not to satisfy the need of the people of Seaton and the Axe Valley but to keep the Conservative group on which the "Independent" leaders now rely for support happy."