Mr Smith described the car as “careering” through the car park, which it did, after playing a silly game of cat and mouse with me and 12 members of the public. Several eye-witnesses will bear testimony to this, including a local resident, who was almost knocked over by it!
Quite bizarre, unnecessary and baffling behaviour.
The Department of Health and Social Care was apparently unaware of Mr Hancock’s visit, which was made at the request of Mr Swire’s office.
As the Devon County Councillor for the area – and having worked hard to try and retain the beds and the building over many years, I would have expected to have been invited to such an event, which some members of the local community were present at, as were other (Conservative) councillors and NHS officials.
Not only did I not receive an invite and was kept in the dark about the visit (I was informed by ITV who quite understandably wanted an interview from me, to balance the story) I, and 12 polite residents, were asked to leave the car park by an NHS communications officer, on the basis we were on private property and it wasn’t a political event!
Not a political event, yet the hospital building was full of (Conservative) politicians!
And private property? Yet paid for by taxpayers money!
It’s pretty disrespectful stuff.
And then there was the silly game of cat and mouse with the ministerial car.
Mr Hancock’s black Jaguar was parked at the front of the building, then after I refused to leave the car park, it moved off to the rear entrance. We all followed and waited next to it at the back of the building.
After about 10 minutes of being parked at the hospital’s rear entrance, it suddenly revved up its engines, activated its blue security lights and drove off at speed to the front.
By the time we caught up with it, Mr Hancock and aides were jumping in the car and it sped off, almost knocking over a pedestrian in the process.
You can understand why Mr Swire and Mr Hancock will want this video deleted….
But one of the group of our band of residents was prepared! He made a copy of the video, which can still be viewed on Twitter and Facebook.
I expect Messrs Swire and Hancock will not be happy about this.
But we’re not going to take it down.
https://twitter.com/crundale/status/1045292835732418562 View on Twitter
https://www.facebook.com/deanstewart/posts/10156563320122530 View on Facebook
On the matter of the hospital itself, up until Wednesday the local NHS had refused to be drawn on whether Ottery Hospital is safe, in the forthcoming estates strategy.
Local people have been trying to draw up plans for the hospital’s use to keep it safe. I have offered them my support.
Over two years ago at my demonstration to protest against any plans for selling off the building, by NHS Property Services, Mr Swire turned up unexpectedly and told everyone I was scaremongering and that there was no risk to the hospital, despite having no assurances to back this up.
I have a motion at Devon County Council’s full council meeting next Thursday afternoon, urging councillors to take a strong position on protecting our community hospitals and a strong position on resisting any future plans to sell off the buildings.
The all Conservative cabinet has so far not supported it. We will see what next week brings!
It’s great that the Secretary of State visited our hospital and I am encouraged by his words.
Although the Ottery Herald reports today that Mr Hancock refused to give assurances that the hospital would stay open.
I will keep on going as will I am sure, the local community, to do our best to protect the hospital.
Pic: Being interviewed by ITV about the hospital.