That is the dilemma facing residents of the eastern villages as they face the fact that they are NEVER going to get the new replacement village hospital and day hospital they were promised almost 20 years ago.
The meeting decided with a couple of votes against and one abstention that…
- A. They want the land held by the Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust returned to the parish.
- B. They want Waverley Planners to refuse to allow a Care Home to built on parish land – together with a hostel.
- They want the existing old Cranleigh Hospital and its Day Hospital to be improved – together with a minor injuries unit and other services.
Residents from Alfold, Dunsfold, Ewhurst and Cranleigh learned it was crunch time – with an application for an 80-bed Care Home including 20 community beds and 26 health worker bedsits due to be determined by Waverley Planners in September. The scheme was to have been considered in August. But it was postponed after pressure from councillors.
The WW understands that a public meeting was held last Saturday and despite only being given a few days notice a crowd of 50 turned up to the village hall.
A panel headed by Alfold resident Andy Webb announced he had been vilified for daring to hold the meeting at all.
Residents were faced with … an empty chair emblazoned with the name – CRANLEIGH VILLAGE HOSPITAL TRUST. As, they heard that for the second time in under six months, it was ‘no show’ by the charity, to answer their urgent questions.
A string of speakers – who we will not name for fear of reprisals – described the 20-year long and complex history of a dream for a replacement new hospital and day hospital in Cranleigh which had now turned into the nightmare of a £14m 60-bed private care home and 20-community beds to benefit a region much larger than that originally proposed. A development which would include 26 bedsits for care workers from the locality – but which would bring in no community benefit in either Community Infrastructure Levy – or 106 monies to mitigate for the scheme.
Waverley Council’s Deputy leader Paul Follows heard residents including many donors ask…
- The parish council had taken part in a land exchange with a so-called ‘local benefactor” for a £1 without getting a mandate from villagers first?
- Why had it exchanged land for £1 which had been valued by the District Valuer for £250,000?
- Why didn’t the parish council receive Best Value?
- Why hadn’t the council abided by an agreement with the charity to take the land back, when the project had not taken place after the agreed five years?
- Why had it agreed to a Ransome strip around a football pitch, which was part of the land swap?
- Former Cranleigh parish councillor Ken Reed shocked everyone when he revealed that he had not been made aware of such an onerous restriction on the football pitch.
“I was not aware, such a restriction existed, and I would have objected if I had known.”
Villagers asked…the empty chair where had £1.4m of their money gone?
- What was the model of care and who would occupy the community beds?
- Where were the promised Day Hospital and other facilities – including a minor injuries unit and outpatients facilities? Why were villagers faced with something that had morphed into a completely different concept than that they had backed with their cash and voluntary efforts?
- What lease did the charity have with the private operator – which was heavily in debt (circa £800,000,000) and up for sale?
A former CVHT Trustee Kay Newman attempted to explain the original vision for the project and how numerous changes in the health sector had affected its progression.
Money raised had been used in a variety of ways including the creation of the Bruce Mackenzie football field and changes to the highway in Knowle Lane. Although she was no longer a trustee having resigned almost 10 years ago, she had heard from the solicitor for CVHT that the operator (HC-One) would receive a 150-year lease on the building and would pay £1m towards the hostel block. He had given assurances that if the present operator failed, another would take over. She also assured everyone that the charity would hold a public meeting together with its stakeholder partners – once planning permission was granted. She said although the organisers had asked residents to address their questions to the empty chair, CVHT would make the model of care and other matters clearer once planning permission had been granted.
She apologised to the many donors, for the part she and her husband, the former chairman, for the disappointment of not getting what everyone had originally hoped for, a new Cranleigh Hospital and Day Hospital.
Ewhurst resident Diane James said from what she had heard the Charity was either guilty of fraud or negligence and asked whether it was possible to seek an injunction to stop the development?
A letter was read out from Rtd GP John Verdon; former nurses spoke of their concerns, and one resident asked why the land appeared in the charity accounts at £2.4m when there was no planning consent, saying we are being misled.
Some believed the 20 community beds were merely a minor replacement for 56 beds lost due to the closure of Longfields a Surrey County Council home now derelict. The Waverley warden-assisted accommodation of 58 flats and seven old people’s bungalows had also been also lost to the community’s elderly.
Everyone agreed, with a few exceptions who believed a bad deal was better than no deal, arguing the 20 beds were needed, that it was now time to look forward not back and that a petition should call for the application to be refused. The land should be returned to the village and every effort should be made to support new and existing services offered by Cranleigh League of Friends at the old cottage hospital.
Others believed the Charity Commission should be contacted as a matter of urgency, as Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust was not giving residents what they had promised.
“We are getting a raw deal – a valuable asset of this community is being taken over by big business – and if we have to join together to seek legal redress, then let’s all put some money towards doing just that.”