LIBRARY chiefs say there was no “legitimate reason or justification” for a rebuild that was key to doctors’ hopes of a new health centre for Sidmouth.

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The Herald reported last week how GPs and patient representatives were left “flabbergasted” when Devon County Council (DCC) withdrew £500,000 of funding. They said the cash for a library revamp was key to their surgery plans – and the cutback had “dashed” their bid.

DCC bosses this week spoke publicly for the first time on the situation.

A spokesperson for the authority told the Herald yesterday: “We own the library building in Sidmouth, and the freehold land that it is on.

“It is well located for community use and is fit for purpose so we can see no legitimate reason or justification to relinquish this facility, and spend Devon tax payers’ money finding additional capital to build a new library on land we do not own in the town.

“Work to improve the library has been put on hold for a considerable period of time as a result of discussions with the health centre about future joint redevelopment.

“We must now proceed with our refurbishment plans to improve an important community facility in the centre of Sidmouth.”

Sid Valley Patients Forum Group, doctors and health centre committee members said last week that £600,000 - earmarked by DCC for a library refurbishment - has been “scaled back” to £100,000.

GPs had Primary Care Trust funding for the health centre element of their scheme.

They say Sidmouth needs a new health centre as its current Blackmore Drive surgery is unfit for purpose.

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