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Friday, October 19, 2012

Campaigner replies on Town Council health discussion

We have received this letter from campaigner Martin Crumpton  in response to the story we published on Wednesday about the discussion at the previous evening’s Town Council meeting on proposed health changes in Llangollen:

Dear Llanblogger,
I read your article entitled “Town Council works out response to health shake-up” and I write in response to set the record straight.
I and other campaigners found out about Betsi Cadwaladr’s intentions at the beginning of August, as did everyone. Being somewhat seasoned campaigners, we knew that we had to begin our work immediately, even before the ten-week consultation period had begun, on September 20th.
We were not alone in knowing we had to use every day available to us: so did Conwy, Prestatyn, Ruthin, Flint, Mold, Chirk, and many others in the same boat as us. The common thread of all these campaigns is they were either wholly supported by their town councils or actually led by them.
A number of us asked the Town Council for a public meeting. They could have done this themselves, without us prompting them. Instead they advised against it, so we had to organise our own public meeting, and even call for a local referendum.
The Town Council claimed they didn’t yet have enough information to give a response, yet as of their last Town Council meeting, 16th October, neither they nor we know anything materially different from what we knew in early August.

They promised to give their reaction at the next convenient Town Council meeting, but at that meeting they decided to attend the consultation instead, to find out more detail. As before, they’re no wiser now than they were at the beginning of August.
We, the campaigners, on the other hand, have lobbied the Press and got several front page stories, had our message broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru and the BBC News website, gained the support of Mark Isherwood AM, Aled Roberts AM, and Llyr Gruffydd AM, and now Ken Skates has come on board with our message that we need to retain the hospital until its proposed replacement is up and running. We have written to the Health Minister, Mary Burrows, the Health Council, spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, organised a number of petitions and communicated our news far and wide in the community.
The Town Council, by comparison, has done nothing until twelve days before the end of the consultation period, and hasn’t even agreed the wording of their “response”. That’s to be finalised by the Town Clerk, apparently.

Perhaps this shows how high a priority the issue is with the Town Council, but we note the remarks by Cllr Mike Pugh and Cllr Tony Baker which fly in the face of the Mayor’s and the Town Clerk’s assertions of being “proactive” and “thoughtful and diligent”.
We could have joined forces and been far more effective, but the Town Council did not engage with us, and made no effort whatsoever to galvanise the town’s residents.
There will be a deciding vote [on the health service changes] in The Senedd in December. Perhaps the Town Council would like to become proactive, thoughtful and diligent in the little time we have left and engage with the people it purports to represent.

It could do no worse than look to other town councils in Conwy, Prestatyn, Ruthin, Flint, Mold, Chirk, and many others in the same boat as us and take their lead from them, instead of being the odd one out.
Martin Crumpton

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