Campaigners have called on Lewes District Council to rethink proposals to build a new health hub in Seaford.
On Monday (July 15), campaigners presented the council’s chairman with a 2,640-signature petition calling on councillors reconsider the authority’s plans to build a new health hub next to the Downs Leisure Centre in Sutton Road.
The proposals, which are still in the process of being drawn up, would see the council build a heath centre and rent it to Seaford’s two GP practices – Old School Surgery and Seaford Medical Practice.
The petition was supported during the meeting by Seaford South ward councillors Sam Adeniji (Con) and Christine Brett (Lib Dem).
Cllr Adeniji said: “People are seriously concerned about this proposal.
“People are concerned about the effect on green space. People are concerned about the effect on the town centre. People are concerned that the main winners of this proposal will be the NHS, who will sell the Dane Road site.
“I will urge every councillor here today, when this issue gets debated at full council, please take into account the concerns of local people the people who have signed this petition.”
Cllr Adeniji also called on new council leader Zoe Nicholson, who had been voted in by a cross-party alliance earlier in the meeting, to consider calling a halt to the project.
Cllr Brett also spoke in support of the petitioners, highlighting concerns around the potential future development of Seaford Medical Practice’s premises in Dane Road.
She said: “As Cllr Adeniji has said, the number who have signed this far exceeds the number who attended the public exhibition earlier this year.
“Since I was elected, I have had a number of residents contact me who share these views and it is clear that very many people in the town feel very strongly about the proposal.
“I am also conscious of several other concerns I have had from local residents in particular about the role of NHS Property Services if this goes ahead, because the Dane Road site would be sold.
“In the interests of transparency, I am very pleased we will be discussing the issue at a future council meeting and I urge you all to listen to residents.”
As a result, a review panel was formed to look into the proposals in more detail, particularly the loss of the playing space and the potential impact on the local economy.
Outgoing scrutiny chairman Johnny Denis, who is to be replaced with a new chair in light of the change in council leadership, said: “[Scrutiny committee] has agreed to set up a panel because there were so many issues arising out of this that members were concerned about.
“The issues are about the green space, potentially the effect on the local economy – which scrutiny would like to look at further – the removal of GPs from the town centre and also the role of NHS Property Services in this.
“It sounds like we will be taking all the risk as a district council, as opposed to the NHS which owns the building. They are benefiting from our risk.”
As a result of the petition, councillors are to debate the proposals at the next full council meeting in September.