Local Plan ‘the key’ to future of hospital
THE introduction of a proposed Local Plan could strengthen the case for keeping Ormskirk Hospital, a council leader claims.
A recent report by health bosses raised the possibility of closing the hospitals in Southport and Ormskirk and replacing them with one site between the two towns.
The report acknowledged that funding for such a plan was unlikely and suggested downgrading either Southport Hospital or Ormskirk Hospital and moving vital services such as A&E and maternity care to one site.
The plans led to an angry response from residents and politicians in both towns and West Lancs MP Rosie Cooper later asked the Prime Minister whether an expansion of Ormskirk Hospital should be considered before building a new one.
West Lancashire Borough Council leader Ian Moran suggested the long-term planning of the proposed Local Plan, which would run until 2050, could strengthen the case for maintaining health services locally.
He said: “The thing about this plan is it’s about developing the borough for the future, for the children, for the people who live here.
“It’s about securing that train station (in Skelmersdale) and also what’s become more and more apparent over the last few months is the hospital and this little tug of war we’ve got going on with Southport.
“It’s about securing the hospital in Ormskirk. These plans here, the authorities and the CCG will be looking at and these make up some of the figures they’re looking at. For their viability, what’s the best place to have a hospital? Is it to have it further away from Ormskirk towards Southport? With this sort of thing that’s going on here, we need to enhance the campus in Ormskirk or make the campus somewhere else in West Lancashire, but more central.
“These all add to it, it’s not just about building houses, it’s a much bigger picture.”
A six-week consultation is being launched next month asking people for their views on the Local Plan, seen as the blueprint for the borough between now and 2050.
The plan calls for almost 16,000 new homes being built, many of them in three new “garden villages” in Skelmersdale, but the council says the scheme is about much more than homes and can secure a positive future for the borough.
Among the proposals listed are plans to create 180ha (445 acres) of employment space, including warehousing space near Skelmersdale to make the best use of the motorway links, and a “knowledge park” in Ormskirk to link businesses with the work being done at Edge Hill University, to attract high-value companies and enable graduates to stay in West Lancashire,
Dedicated student housing would also be built in Ormskirk, with space for 1,000 people, with the intention of reducing the need for traditional housing to be converted to HMOs.
The plan will be the subject of a six-week consultation exercise starting next month, and, as part of that process, the council will be holding a series of drop-in events at which officers will be available by appointment to explain the proposals and answer questions.