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Farron's Kentmere campaign on verge of victory

July 26, 2016 1:01 PM
Mental health campaigners with Tim Farron MP

Tim Farron MP with campaigners working to save the mental health unit

Tim Farron's campaign against the closure of the Kentmere mental health ward in Kendal looks likely to be on the verge of victory, as health bosses make a U-turn over the need for closure.

Following intense pressure from the community, the Board will vote on a recommendation not to close the ward at a meeting due to be held on Thursday. Agenda papers drawn up by the Trust recommend that the ward should not be closed.

Local MP Tim Farron has collected 7000 signatures on a petition against the closure, and has had various meetings with health bosses and the Care Quality Commission.

Tim has also had a march planned for around three weeks, which was due to take place on Saturday 30th. The nature of this event will now depend on the outcome of the Board meeting on Thursday. If the Board accepts the Trust's recommendations, then instead of a march there will be a victory rally to highlight the importance of the ward and of mental health issues. The public should still meet at 1.30pm at Abbot Hall Park. If the Board does not accept the recommendations, the march will go ahead as planned. Alongside Tim, speakers will include a number of former patients on the ward as well as individuals who work in mental health.

Tim said: "This U-turn by the Trust is a huge victory for all who have campaigned against the closure of the ward. More importantly, it will be a massive relief for all those who rely on the ward or whose loved ones are there.

"If the Board does agree with the recommendation not to close the ward, it will reflect well on their willingness to listen to local people.

"Removing these services from South Lakeland would have been a huge blow to local mental health provision.

"We have long argued that although the ward is not ideal, it is much better than the alternative, and the Trust has now recognised this. Their paper highlights a number of ongoing concerns with the ward, and the Trust should now focus on addressing those.

"My thanks go to all who have signed the petition and took part in the Trust's consultation. I would also like to thank other local organisations, in particular South Lakes MIND and the Westmorland Gazette, for their efforts campaigning for this ward."