Cranleigh Parish Council held an Extraordinary Meeting yesterday evening (Thursday 6th February 2020). Here’s the complete transcript of a speech delivered to Councillors and members of the public, by our Treasurer and Company Secretary, John Bainbridge. John was accompanied by our Chairman, Robin Fawkner Corbett.
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
Cranleigh Village Health Trust finds itself between a rock and a hard place this evening. I would like to explain why.
Early in January, we requested a meeting with councillors so we could discuss how we might work together for the benefit of the local community. There is widespread local support for the return of community beds in Cranleigh.
Input from Cranleigh Parish Council, while we consider our response to the planning decision from Waverley Borough Council in November, would have helped us to shape our strategy, for the benefit of all local people.
Unfortunately, our request for a meeting was rejected. Cranleigh Parish Council met behind closed doors and then requested a public meeting, which we declined as it would be inappropriate before we have decided on our response to the planning decision.
We explained to Cranleigh Parish Council that we would hold a public meeting once our response is agreed, so we can present this to members of the public and answer their questions.
Without prior warning, Cranleigh Parish Council issued an agenda for today’s meeting, claiming it would feature a presentation from CVHT. We did not agree to this presentation and only became aware of the agenda item after it was published.
I’m here this evening to read this statement and describe the steps leading up to this meeting.
Councillors, we are unpaid volunteers who live in Cranleigh. We are passionate about the provision of local healthcare services and, like you, want only the best for Cranleigh.
CVHT trustees have worked tirelessly for 20 years to facilitate the return of community beds in Cranleigh; beds that, precisely like those previously provided at Cranleigh Village Hospital, will prioritise the needs of local residents.
When it was announced in 2006 that the 14 beds in the Cranleigh Village Hospital would be closed, this was against the wishes of the community at large. Key local stakeholders, including the then Surrey Health Scrutiny Committee, the Royal Surrey County Hospital, and the then Clinical Advisory Group, were all critical of the decision made by the Primary Care Trust (PCT).
At the time, local MP Sue Doughty said: “this is a sad day for local people.” Subsequently, Anne Milton MP gave us her full and continuous support.
CVHT has persevered in its efforts to secure the return of community beds to Cranleigh. These efforts were thwarted by a property crisis, a financial crisis, then a change in NHS strategy for providing beds in the community, and the inability to find the necessary financial support to enable a building to be constructed which would incorporate the community beds.
It’s only in the last three years that a new way forward has been found, with the support of an established care home operator, supported by the NHS (now the ICP – integrated Care Partnership) and Surrey County Council (Health and Adult Social Care).
We have tried repeatedly to work with Cranleigh Parish Council positively during the past three years. Previously our relationship had been good. In December 2016, we were asked whether a Councillor might attend our meetings “to provide a link and keep the Council updated,” and we agreed to this. A Councillor was nominated, but sadly she did not attend any meetings, and the Council subsequently withdrew this point of contact.
In 2018 CPC set up a CVHT Working Group. Subsequently the CVHT Chairman wrote to the Clerk on 27th July 2018 stating that “CVHT would be obviously happy to assist the Group in any way we can”. There was no response.
On 4th January 2019, because of the continuing negative stance CPC was taking, the CVHT Chairman wrote to the Clerk requesting an urgent meeting within seven days. This approach was similarly unsuccessful.
We don’t fully understand how the relationship with Cranleigh Parish Council has so badly broken down. But we want to move forward from here.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we shall organise a public presentation once we have a response to the recent planning decision. At that time, it is right and proper that CVHT holds this public meeting, and of course, members of Cranleigh Parish Council will be invited to attend.
I regret that anyone attending the meeting this evening was under the false impression that CVHT had agreed to deliver a presentation about its revised plans; this was never discussed or agreed between Cranleigh Parish Council and CVHT.
A copy of this statement will be available on our website shortly.
Thank you for listening.