Councillors have criticised delays in the opening of Colne’s new multi-million pound primary care health centre.
Last month we reported that difficulties in finalising legal contracts had caused problems in transferring services from Market Street to Craddock Road.
And while it is expected that the three-storey building will be opening its doors in the next couple of weeks, an official date has still not been confirmed. It was expected to be operating by early February, with work having started on the former Kwik Save brownfield site in 2013.
Speaking at Pendle Council’s latest Colne and District Committee meeting, Coun. Tony Greaves argued that the delays were “getting beyond a joke”. He said that such a situation would not have arisen under previous administrations such as the Primary Care Trust, and added: “Nothing seems to be happening. We now have some national bureaucracy with an office in Manchester making decisions. It’s ridiculous.”
Coun. Graham Roach said he had spoken to a GP in the current health centre about the position and was told nothing had changed in the last two months.
And he also criticised Lancashire County Council for refusing to meet with Pendle’s scrutiny panel to discuss car parking arrangements in the area around the new Craddock Road centre.
Speaking after the meeting, leader of Pendle Council Coun. Joe Cooney explained how the setback also means the future use of the current health centre building still remains unclear.
He said: “We want the new health centre open as soon as possible. We have waited long enough for it.
“We are being left with a health centre that is not fit for purpose, when we have a new one that should be in use.
“We can’t do anything with the old health centre building until people have moved out. The council have expressed an interest in the future of the health centre - we are not going to let it stand there and let it become an eyesore. Something radical needs to be done with it to make it an attribute to Colne.”
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said that he has also been working on resolving the health centre issue “for some time”, and has brought his concerns to the attention of Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter, who he is hoping to meet next week.
He said: “It is not something that is going to delay this by much, but it does mean there may be a couple more weeks of intense discussions before the centre is fully operational.”
A spokesman for NHS England said: “All of the partners involved are currently completing any remaining formalities with the project so that a date for the opening of the new building can be announced.
“Our service to patients remains our primary concern and we expect the transition of services to the new centre to begin very shortly.
“We would also like to reassure patients that they can continue to access the full range of services through the existing health centre site at Market Street until the move is completed.”