When East Devon District Council makes decisions regarding requests to have Community Hospitals registered as community assets – that’s when!
The latest such decision by EDDC relates to Seaton Hospital.
As a Town Councillor, I got a resolution agreed by Seaton Town Council last year to make a request to East Devon District Council to register Seaton Hospital as an asset of community value. If registered, and in the event of NHS Property Services wanting to sell the site, this would have given the community a 6 months exclusive period to buy the site.
EDDC Officers, without their Councillors being able to debate the subject, used delegated power to turn down the request over 6 months after the request was made. The officers claimed that a hospital did not meet the criteria of being a community asset within the guidelines laid down by Central Government – note the word “guidelines”, not hard and fast rules, but guidelines open to interpretation. As part of the process, EDDC would have had to consult the owners of the site, in this case, NHS Property Services, to obtain their views and I can only assume they objected. That didn’t mean that EDDC Officers had to then turn down the request, but they did.
EDDC have at least been consistent as they have now turned requests from Seaton, Ottery St Mary, Axminster and Honiton.
I attended the next EDDC full Council meeting after the Seaton decision was made to question this decision in the public question time slot and received the same answer despite pointing out that other district councils in Devon had agreed to requests of this nature.
For more information on the what is happening with Seaton Hospital, click here