Could Honiton Hospital become a community asset?

Honiton Hospital Red Line Protest. Picture: David Ward

Honiton Hospital Red Line Protest. Picture: David Ward - Credit: Archant

Honiton Hospital could be transformed into a community asset - meaning the town council could purchase the site if it was put up for sale.

Members will discuss whether the hospital should be nominated asa community asset at their monthly meeting tonight (Monday).

The idea, fronted by Councillor Daniel Jefferson, could be realised if the hospital is sold off by NHS Property Services, which owns and operates the site.

In a report submitted to the council by Cllr Jefferson, he said: “We have seen other hospitals closed and sold off as the NHS make budget cuts.

“Here in Honiton, we have already seen a reduction in beds in our hospital and need to preserve the excellent services we current have access to.

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“Should the hospital be sold off, we need to give the community the opportunity to take over operations.”

Cllr Jefferson said this would likely be managed by a consortium, comprising the town council and other local organisations such as Honiton Hospital League of Friends.

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He added: “Other town councils in Devon, such as Torrington, are going through the same motions of electing their hospitals as assets of community value in a bid to preserve the health facilities in their towns.”

There was a strong community backlash to proposals to slash hospital beds in Honiton and other East Devon towns.

In 2016, more than 100 people squeezed into the town’s Mackarness Hall to voice their disdain and anger towards a consultation, launched by NHS NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group.

Various protests were also staged, including a Red Line Protest in April 2017, which saw angry residents form a human chain outside hospitals at Seaton and Honiton to protest against the bed cuts.

To push forward with the plans, Cllr Jefferson needs to obtain 21 signatures needed to nominate an asset.

This, he says, will ‘stop the clock’ for six months, should the site be put up for sale and would also allow the council to table a bid.

Under the Localism Act 2011, town councils have the right to nominate assets to be added to a list of assets of community value, and the right to bid for, or buy, a listed asset when it comes up for sale.

Updates will be given at tonight’s town council meeting, held at The Beehive from 7pm.

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