Town councillors worked out their official response to controversial plans to shake up health services in Llangollen at their meeting on Tuesday night.
Although the precise wording has yet to be worked out by the town clerk, this will be along the lines of a suggestion from the mayor, Cllr John Haddy, that there must be some certainty that if the Cottage Hospital closes as proposed, the services it currently provides will continue to be delivered locally until a planned new health centre is opened.
The closure of the hospital and its replacement with a new health facility, possibly on the site of the derelict River Lodge just up the road, is proposed by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) as part of a major programme of changes to services across the region.
The current public consultation exercise on the programme ends on October 28.
The plan has already sparked a backlash in Llangollen and led recently to calls for a local referendum to be held on the issue.
Last Monday evening at a public meeting hosted by newly-formed action group Keep Llangollen Health Services (KLHS) there were calls for a mass letter-writing campaign to oppose the loss of any local health facilities.
The Town Council has in the past come under fire for not playing a more active role in the issue.
As its official response to the consultation was being discussed on Tuesday evening, these criticisms were referred to by Cllr Mike Pugh.
Explaining that he had attended the KLHS public meeting, he said: “There was a feeling there that there should have been more input from the Town Council.
And Cllr Tony Baker said: “I have been asked by members of the public why the Town Council has not been more proactive.”
The mayor replied that there had been a group who called for a referendum under legislation that was not appropriate.
He added: “Although we advised that this was not the way forward they decided to go ahead anyway.
“There are two problems with that – first, it put us in a position where we could not support that and, second, the emphasis was on a referendum rather than the health board’s proposals.
“We were proactive but there are limits to the areas in which we can act.”
Town clerk J Gareth Thomas said: “We have been thoughtful and diligent in the way we have taken it forward.”
Concerns were voiced by a number of councillors about the possibility of a lengthy time gap between the hospital being closed and a new heath centre opening.
Cllr Robert Lube said: “I accept that it is not really economical to keep the hospital going and I like the idea of the new health centre but I am concerned about that gap.”
And Cllr Tim Palmer said: “We must express to the health board that while the investment is very welcome, we have to ensure that no services are lost.”
Summing up the response to BCUHB, the mayor said: “We need to make sure that services we already have are, as an interim measure, guaranteed.”
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