Barnham residents air concerns at MP's meeting
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert held a public meeting in Barnham last week to hear the views and concerns of local residents.
Mr Herbert was joined on the panel by Arun District Councillors for Barnham Jean Goad, Melissa Briggs and Dougal Maconachie. The meeting was chaired by Barnham Parish Council Chairman Mike Young.
The audience received an update from Mr Herbert on a range of local issues, including the future configuration of hospital services in West Sussex. He said that residents in his Arundel and South Downs constituency were served by all three hospitals in the county (St Richard's in Chichester, Worthing & Southlands and the Princess Royal at Haywards Heath), and it was wrong that the Primary Care Trust had pitched one hospital against another.
Mr Herbert welcomed the retention of A&E services at St Richard's for 90 per cent of patients, which was an improvement on the original plans. However, this still meant that 5,000 patients a year would have to be taken to Portsmouth or Worthing for their treatment.
The MP also criticised plans to centralise maternity services. He said that eight out of ten mothers currently having babies in St Richard's in Chichester or the Princess Royal would, in future, have to use maternity services outside West Sussex. The West Sussex Primary Care Trust was effectively "hollowing out" services from the county.
Mr Herbert said he would continue to support all three hospitals in West Sussex and argued that people were entitled to "high quality local services".
Mr Herbert discussed the proposal for an eco-town of at least 5,000 houses at Ford. He contested claims by the developers that the site is brownfield, saying that 87 per cent of the site consists of greenfield land. He questioned whether the developers' promises of new infrastructure would be fulfilled, and the timescale for them.
Issues raised by members of the audience included the provision of appropriate sites for travellers, the need for a GP surgery in Barnham, bus services through the village, tuition fees for students, speeding at the top of Barnham Lane, the erosion of local democracy and immigration.
After the meeting, Mike Young commented: "It was a privilege to host a public open meeting for our MP to meet with his local constituents, and to answer their questions. It was extremely successful, as he did not approach the meeting as a party political animal, but as the representative of them in Parliament. His answers were given with a genuine sincerity and I can say that those of us who attended were impressed with our MP."
Nick Herbert commented: "It was an excellent meeting and a lot of interesting local and national issues were raised. I'm organising regular meetings like this and the plan is to rotate them around the major villages in my constituency. I'm very grateful to the Parish Council for playing host on this occasion."