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Farron brings together key players in Sedbergh health centre debate to find a way forward

January 9, 2009 10:20 AM

Local MP Tim Farron brought together representatives of Sedbergh's parish council, health centre and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority on Monday to seek a way forward in the row over a new health centre for the town.

The different sides in the dispute had not met until Mr Farron brought them together in the town's community offices. The two hour meeting was constructive, and allowed all sides to air their view.

The row erupted when the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority's planning committee turned down a joint proposal from the health centre and Spar for the old auction mart site on the edge of the town. While there is almost unanimous support for a new health centre, there was some local concern that the loss of Spar from the town's main street could damage the sustainability of Sedbergh. The national park authority refused planning permission for the new health centre, leaving local doctors saying that adequate health care provision in the area was now under threat.

At Monday's meeting all sides agreed that there needed to be an accurate way of gauging public opinion on the proposal and so Mr Farron undertook to talk to local authorities about the possibility of holding a local referendum, the outcome of which would inform the national park authority when they reconsider the proposal.

Secondly, Mr Farron secured the agreement of all parties to sit down and look for a 'plan B' in case the resubmission of a revised application at the auction mart site is unsuccessful. All sides agreed that they would seek another piece of land as a possible fall back.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Farron said: "I am determined that we achieve two things, first that Sedbergh gets a new health centre and second that we don't have acrimony and division within the town. Our meeting yesterday was a very important step forwards achieving both and I'm grateful to the doctors, the parish council and the national park authority for their involvement. The important thing now is that all sides invest time and effort in talking to each other."