At the October meeting of the Town Council those present expressed their “disgust” and dismay” at the “cynical attitude” of the Clinical Commissioning Group with regard to Hornsea Cottage Hospital and closure of the Minor Injuries Unit. Having been promised a full consultation on the issue it seems the option of keeping the Minor Injuries Unit open is not on the table. As was the case with the removal of hospital beds, the public were invited to have their say only to discover that the decision had already been taken.
The public consultation scheduled for Wednesday the 23rd November from 5.00- 8.00 pm in the Floral Hall promise to be a lively affair to say the least. Everyone is encouraged to attend and to make the strength of their feelings known. However, Councillors fear that, whatever the force of the protest may be, it will be insufficient to persuade the CCG to reverse its decision.
These events coincide with a major ‘consultation’ being conducted with regard to our bus services. Once again the public of Hornsea have turned out in good numbers to provide coherent arguments for improving rather than reducing the services but one wonders whether this is also a ‘fait accompli’.
At the same time we are being informed of plans for 750 new homes in the town , the expansion of caravan parks and the increase in tourism, together with the absence of any plans to improve the road infrastructure. The residents of Hornsea could be forgiven for asking how far our public services can be eroded whilst simultaneously increasing the population and traffic congestion before crisis point is reached.
If we look further afield, however, we see that this phenomenon is by no means confined to Hornsea. Withernsea and Driffield also stand to lose their MIU units, whilst councils all around the country are being forced to reduce public services and infrastructure projects because of austerity measures, despite burgeoning populations and growing traffic congestion. Whether austerity is the necessary consequence of the financial crisis, the result of political ideology, or simply a sign that we are reaching the limits to growth, the fact remains that this is our current reality.
Whilst the CCG managers who will come to face the music at the Floral Hall on 23rd November are trembling in their boots it is probably worth remembering that they are merely the agents of higher forces who have dictated that they must find ways of reducing their budgets. So go easy on them!