Hospital is on the best possible site

WITHOUT talking to the 14,000 residents of Beverley or the 45,000 in the immediate hinter¬land, I confidently assert that Beverley needs and wants a new hospital.

Equally, having some earlier published interest in the matter I now firmly believe that the planners have chosen the best possible site for it. Reading the flippant attack on Jim Whitfield's concern at the attempt to unpick the good work of many far better qualified than the current antagonists, I feel provoked to return to the correspondence column of the Guardian three years after stepping down as the chairman of the Beverley Renaissance Partnership.

Although from opposite strands of political opinion I know and admire Jim Whitfield for his long service to the community as a whole rather than adopting populist factionalism. Beverley Lift is but one example. He is elected and has every right to respond to flimsily constructed special pleading created by a not in my backyard pressure group.

Five years ago I recall a proposition that the new ambulance station should be built on the now derelict council owned site on Grovehill Road. It would be difficult to think of a more delay prone location for such an emergency service.

At the time the Guardian published my letter advocating that an ideal solution would be to build a combined hospital and ambulance station alongside a park and ride area at the Driffield Road roundabout. While not all came to pass, it is good to see the ambulance service having such high-speed routes to and from call outs.
Readers will recall that coincident with the ambulance location issue there was considerable | controversy about the future of the Westwood Hospital and provision of health services for an expanding Beverley. One utterly ridiculous proposal was that the Westwood would close, without a local replacement, and that care would be in Goole, Bridlington and, as I recall, Scarborough.

A full rehearsal of all the argu¬ments and consultations pursued with vigour at the time need not detain us here. Suffice it to say that East Riding and Town Councillors in committee with others, supported here and in Westminster by our local MP Graham Stuart, were able to overturn this.

As a consequence we now see the plan for a very much more comprehensive and accessible service than the much-loved Westwood is able to provide. The location a mile south of the ambulance station is accessible by car, with separate staff and patient on-site parking, and is well served by public transport. Even by foot for the residents of Swinemoor and Sigston Road. I wonder how many of them would really prefer to take themselves and their children to an extended Bridlington hospital for the wide range of new services planned for the Beverley Hospital. Bono fails every test of logic veering from spending money in Bridlington via a thought train that diverts through Hornsea and Driffield then, in default of any of those, returning to the West-wood Hospital as a fall back.

There, risibly, we are given a picture of healthy octogenarians tripping the light fantastic up hill from the town centre. As a grateful healthy octogenarian mindful of many others, younger and older who are not as fortunate, I recall Clement Attlee's instruction to a garrulous Harold Laski who had far too much to say about a subject about which he had incomplete knowledge:

"A period of silence on your part would be most welcome".

David Preston

Molescroft Road, Beverley