NEWLY elected Liberal Democrat councillor Tom Whipp gained unanimous support for his call for Pendle Council to back the building of a new health centre in Barnoldswick at last Thursday’s annual Pendle Council meeting.

Cllr Tom Whipp’s resolution called on the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, one of the health bodies responsible for such matters, “to take forward plans for a new health centre in Barnoldswick as a priority.”

In his debut speech at Pendle Council, Cllr Whipp said: “Barnoldswick has a wonderful team of health staff and doctors but Barnoldswick’s growing population has an ever-increasing need for a modern health service.

“Currently, the GPs work out of converted cottages, with poor access and poky consulting rooms and treatment areas. The building is a nightmare to visit for both patients and staff alike.

“Butts Clinic is no better. It may have been state-of-the-art when it was built over half a century ago, and even though it is spacious and has a lovely setting, the building itself is well past its best. When a new treatment room was needed in Barnoldswick, Butts was considered unfit, and a new treatment room was developed in the Rainhall Centre. Rather telling as the surgery could not accommodate it.

“With health services being devolved from hospitals into local areas, the residents of Barnoldswick are being forced to travel out of town because of the lack of space at the current local clinics.

“Over a year ago, the Clinical Commissioning Group recognised the need for a new health centre in Barnoldswick and commissioned a feasibility study. This study stopped dead in its tracks, as the town’s medical practice do not want to leave their Park Road surgery.

“Health authorities should be listening to the residents of Barnoldswick, not the self-serving interests of their clinical colleagues. We conducted a survey asking if people wanted a new health centre or preferred existing facilities, and 75 per cent of the residents of Barnoldswick who participated said they wanted a new health centre.

Their feedback is quite illuminating, and I quote:

“Colne has a new NHS centre, Nelson has a relatively recent centre, yet we have a prefab as part of our facilities. A health centre would be good with appropriate parking facilities, as it is a real struggle for our older generation to get to the surgery.”

“It is past time for a 21st century health centre in Barnoldswick – housed in accessible 21st century facilities. Health services have a responsibility to local residents. It is time for a new health centre in Barnoldswick.”

Cllr Whipp’s Coates ward colleague, Cllr Marjorie Adams, seconded the motion which gain unanimous support.