Councillors Not Consulted On Hospital Lease Plan

St Mary's hospital

St Mary’s Hospital

The Chairman of Scilly’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Gordon Bilsborough, says elected members should have made the decision to investigate taking over the St Mary’s Hospital lease.

Yesterday Radio Scilly reported that our MP Derek Thomas had, on the invitation of the Council, discussed the idea of the authority taking over the hospital building with Communities and Local Government Minister Greg Clark.

Derek says it will allow better integration of health and social care services on the islands.

But both NHS Kernow and NHS Property, who own the lease, have contacted Radio Scilly to say they are still working closely with local partners in Scilly on the integration plans.

Gordon Bilsborough says the first he knew about plans for the Council to take over the lease was when he heard it on Radio Scilly yesterday.

He says Council officers should have discussed this with members first to get their opinions and he believes the process is “shortcutting democracy.”

He intends to raise it at the next meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Cllr Bilsborough says last month’s Community Services meeting discussed moving some dementia services from Park House to a new residential unit at the hospital.

Gordon says he’s happy with plans to build a facility there, but has concerns about taking over the property because the Council could be landed with a large bill for upkeep.

And he says at no time was there any talk of amalgamating the two and taking over the hospital lease.

Gordon says it’s important that every Council policy is approved by elected councillors because at the end of the day, they are held responsible.

“Members go to the gallows if they get it wrong,” he says.

And he’d like all of them to scrutinise decisions more closely and ask questions if they think something is wrong.

We contacted the Council’s press office yesterday offering them a chance to comment and to ask whether they felt officers had authority to ask the MP to discuss taking over the hospital lease with the Minister. We’ve not had a response.

15 Responses to Councillors Not Consulted On Hospital Lease Plan

  1. Ray Wornes November 22, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I’m sure Councillor Bilsborough understands only too well the democratic process in properly run Councils. The trouble is that in our Council that process is now almost non-existent.
    Councillors have never had very much say in Council policy. If the Officers aren’t telling them on the one hand that in law they are not allowed to represent residents then they are concocting all sorts of reasons why the Officers’ recommendations must be accepted and of course no other alternative is allowed. Nothing has changed. This community is getting no consideration. In the event of a reduction in the number of Councillors, as has been proposed, there will be no improvement in policy-making or democracy and decisions will continue to be made jointly with the major business players.
    I proposed an extension to the Hospital for elderly residents some months ago as the best option simply because what was being proposed was accommodation for the elderly to be built at the Sec. School site which was not in my view appropriate. The opportunistic move by our MP to transfer our Hospital building over to our ‘out of control’ Council comes at a time when he knows that across the country all Councils’ Social funding looks like being slashed by the Gov’t and our Council’s main policy direction is to hand over all its assets to private business – our Airport, our old Sec. School, our waste disposal etc. all using large amounts of public money. This could now include our Hospital building possibly after a costly renovation. This community is being asset-stripped by our own Council with the help of the Gov’t.

    • JackM November 22, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      Asset stripping… or is it actually liability-stripping? Services like water, the airport, etc, are not “assets” if they don’t pay for themselves (let alone make a profit) so are in actual fact financial liabilities.

      • Adam Morton, St.Martins November 23, 2015 at 10:37 am

        Does that not depend on whether we are paying half a million quid for officers to oversee essential services and then procuring them privately at added expense? Surely no services should be regarded as assets in that context? If they were financially viable at an affordable rate ,the private sector would already supply? The money to pay for these services comes from collective taxation to provide services that would be unaffordable privately to the individual eg the NHS? Otherwise there would be no point in having a unitary authority to cater for our “special circumstances”!
        On the other hand I can’t imagine who owns the site is going to make any great difference to the end service in the case of the hospital. Just our MP trying to look busy without actually doing anything – again!

      • Penelope Pitstop November 25, 2015 at 1:01 am

        Take a look back JackM, until Dastardly & Mutley’s new style of running things water & sewage had reserves of 2 million+ and charges that were below inflation for several years, its all in the accounts.

    • Elderflower November 22, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      I never thought the day would come when I was obliged to agree with Ray Wornes but on this issue I think he has called it dead right.
      The council is out of control because the chairman lacks foresight and long ago gave up her responsibilities to preserve and protect the assets that her predecessors fought hard to maintain for the community. For her it seems that the long term is measured in weeks at best and the favoured course of action is the immediately expedient.
      The officer team is hapless and very poorly led. It would be appropriate for members to determine that there will be no more capital projects until it has been independently verified that the appropriate training and skills are in place to bring a project in on budget, something that the council have not managed to do for the last couple of years!
      In short this is the very worst time in the existence of this local authority to consider entrusting a community asset as important as the hospital to there stewardship.

  2. Timon Atica November 20, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I am not sure that Mr Bilsborough quite understands the democratic process. No decision has been made, nor can it be without discussion by council. Therefore, I am not sure how there has been a shortcut. Surely the council employees are there to make the life of councillors more efficient – hence they should be able to suggest and look at the minutiae and advisability of proposals before bothering council members. If Mr Bilsborough thinks that every putative plan/proposal has to come from a councillor and must be discussed in full by council before it can proceed to the next stage how does expect council to get anything done?

    • Gordon Bilsborough November 20, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      In reply to Timon Atica, I am quite willing to answer your personal criticisms of me, provided you emerge from behind your iron mask of anonymity and identify yourself. Mind you, I think I know who you are anyway. How would you feel if Council Members used pseudonyms?

      • Linda Badcock November 20, 2015 at 6:00 pm

        With respect to Timon Atica, I agree with Gordon who does not hide behind anonymity, his past experience within the politics of local government has my respect and confidence. Me being a mere mortal that puts my trust in those with such experience not afraid to to speak out for those they represent

        • Must Be Anon November 23, 2015 at 11:48 am

          Gordon spouts populist claptrap most of the time and sacrifices his ethics on the altar of expediency (a phrase he uses so often it is now a tired old cliché) to suit whatever argument or agenda he intends to pursue. As a council officer I can’t put my name to the post – sorry (and I am not Timon Atica but I agree with every word).

          • Gordon Bilsborough November 23, 2015 at 2:24 pm

            In reply to “Must Be Anon” I would like to point out that the definition of a Populist is: “A supporter of the rights and power of the people.” You claim you are a Council Officer, but I am wondering if you just might be a Council Member. Please confirm.

          • Jeeves November 23, 2015 at 8:31 pm

            M-B-A If you are a council officer you should be ashamed of yourself it is your duty to remain impartial and conduct the business of council.
            A serving officer intervening as you have devalues the integrity of all those who play by the rules and destroys the trust between officers and members.
            That you have allegedly commented as a serving officer speaks volumes for the ethos of the leadership that should be guiding your understanding of appropriate behaviour.

          • Adam Morton, St.Martins November 24, 2015 at 10:24 am

            Well said Jeeves.

      • Acita Nomit November 20, 2015 at 6:10 pm

        Oh come on Gordan, they all ready do! And unfortunately you’ve also answered Timon’s criticism by engaging him, therefore ensuring he/she is aware you’ve read the comment and thus feeding the Trolls.

    • Ewart Less November 20, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      I am quite sure that Councillor Bilsborough understands the process very well and is equally aware of those that sometimes play fast and loose with it.
      As a self proclaimed “frequent visitor” you should by now have picked up on the concern that things are far from well within the council and that what you assume are standard conventions in the normal engagement between officers and members in councils elsewhere are quite often ignored here.
      Councillor Bilsborough has been a senior member of a significant mainland authority in the past and understands due process, he is equally aware when there is a chance that democracy is being circumvented,
      A good council chairman and a Chief Executive who knew how to run a council would ensure that officers properly observed their duty.

  3. Sara Corbett November 20, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    I think that if the council don’t think that they have the expertise to run an airport that they could run the hospital. I do think that it would be a good idea to have a specialist dementia care unit at the hospital. It makes sense to have them near to those who have the expertise to help the patients