A Burntwood councillor says construction work on a new health centre will start six years after residents in the town were promised it would be completed.
It was confirmed earlier this week that construction work would begin in November on the new facility on the site of the former Greenwood House care home.
The health centre will provide 12 consulting rooms, five treatment rooms, a healthcare and phlebotomy room, and a health education space in a single-story building, as well as provision for an adjoining pharmacy.
But Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour opposition group at Lichfield District Council, said the work on the project was starting some six years after residents were told by the Conservatives that the centre would be completed.
“In August 2012 – and like now prior to the county council elections the following May – the local Conservatives said that the site would have a new health centre that would be opened in 2014.
“They were photographed by one of the illegal signs – they had not bothered to seek planning permission – in what I called at the time a cheap publicity stunt set up by the then county councillor Matthew Ellis, currently Staffordshire Commissioner.
“Of course, their actions were defended by their MP Michael Fabricant.
“In July 2017, Lichfield’s MP claimed he had been in ‘close contact’ with the county council and the Clinical Commissioning Group and that work was going to be well underway by March 2019 on the site. It wasn’t.
“What I hope residents will remember is that in 2010, prior to the Coalition Government’s austerity programme of cuts and following public consultations, two health centres were to be built – one on the Greenwood House site and one near Burntwood Leisure Centre.
“Ten years later a reduced version is to be built at Greenwood House, but the buildings near the Leisure Centre has now been given ‘temporary planning permission’ three times – with no new facility in sight.”Cllr Steve Norman
Cllr Norman said the health centre, which will be a replacement for the Darwin Medical Practice site at Hudson Drive, would not tackle the long term issues around health provision in Burntwood.
“It is hard to get excited when Hammerwich and Burntwood patients lost their cottage hospital so long ago and the town has such poor health facilities compared to Lichfield, Hednesford and Norton Canes.”Cllr Steve Norman