Call for action over Exmouth's St John's Court

PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 July 2016

St John's Court

St John's Court

Archant

Town hall chiefs are calling for urgent action to save an Exmouth mental health facility, the loss of which, they say, would ruin lives.

Exmouth Town Council will write to East Devon MP Hugo Swire, the Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DPT), Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, about St John’s Court.

Councillors agreed to act after hearing from Dr Keith Edwards, of the St John’s Court project group of local representatives, that the DPT, which intends to sell St John’s Court, had stopped meeting with members. He also said that there was confusion about the future, with the DPT having already budgeted for the sale, but not marketed it or found an alternative site.

In response, Councillor Mark Williamson said: “It clearly would be a huge loss. The time has come for us to have direct contact with DPT and say this proposed closure is completely unacceptable.”

Councillor Steve Gazzard said: “I know a lot of people who use it. If it shuts they will be devastated, and lives will be ruined.”

Councillor Brian Bailey said: “This is the most vulnerable people in society. Their assistance is being cut off at the knees and it’s damn awful, to put it mildly.”

After an original proposal to ask Mr Swire to lobby Mr Hunt, the council also agreed to write to Mr Hunt and Mr Cameron directly, and to the DPT demanding a meeting.

In response, a DPT spokesman said it was ‘more than happy’ to meet the town council, adding: “We understand people’s concern about the prospect of selling St John’s Court and have involved the project group at every stage of the process so far. At this point in time, we have nothing new to report, but we remain committed to listening to local people and working with them wherever we can.

“We have made it absolutely clear that we won’t relocate away from St John’s Court until we have identified a suitable and more affordable alternative. There is no threat whatsoever to the quality of services in the town.”

A public meeting on St John’s Court will be held on July 7, at 2pm, at Glenorchy Church Hall.

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