Government funding now an option for new Hucknall medical centre as bitter war of words rages on
Hucknall MP Mark Spencer says that Government funding for the proposed new medical centre on the town’s Piggins Croft car park is back on the table.
But Coun Jason Zadrozny, Ashfield District Council leader, said the MP’s claims the project had been under threat were ‘the politics of the playground’.
Last month, Mr Spencer said he had received a letter from health minister Ed Argar expressing his concerns that the Ashfield Independents did not have sufficient funding lined up for the project after saying it was definitely going ahead.
Mr Spencer said he doubted this was the case – something the Independents strongly denied - and that he would write to Mr Argar asking him to continue looking into Government funding for the scheme.
And Mr Argar has now written back saying that the Department of Health (DoH) will continue to explore funding options for the centre.
Mr Spencer said: “I am so glad to hear from Ed that we are able to get this back on track, I was really worried that the actions of the Independents had jeopardised the project.
“It goes to show that we cannot leave the council to its own devices.
"I am going to be watching them very closely over the next few years to make sure that they do deliver for the people of Hucknall.
"Frankly, a lot of people have lost faith in the council by this point – they are more interested in political games than getting infrastructure delivered for Hucknall.
“It is clear that the minister wants to see the project followed through, despite the frustrations that have been caused by the council’s leadership.”
In his letter to Mr Spencer, Mr Argar said: "I am grateful to you for clarifying that the local council had not secured the financing for the scheme, despite some reports.
"Following your request that we therefore continue to explore options for national funding in the future, including in the context of the forthcoming spending review, I am happy to confirm that we will continue to do so.’
He also described the project as 'exciting' and expressed that he was 'looking forward to working with Mr Spencer on it'.
Nottingham North & East Clinical Commissioning Group will now continue to work on the business case to submit to the DoH.
But Coun Zadrozny hit back at Mr Spencer’s claims, accusing him of being the one playing games.
He said: “Let me be very clear with Mr Spencer – this project is something the local Ashfield Independent councillors in Hucknall and I have been working on with health bosses for well over a year.
"Mr Spencer has repeatedly said that our – not his – plans for a (new) doctors’ surgery in the heart of Hucknall were in jeopardy.
"This is not the case and if he had spent time to actually involve himself in these positive discussions with local health bosses he would know this.
“I don’t blame Mr Spencer, however, as he’s been using his time as chief whip to rule the toxic Tories with an iron fist.
"Positive talks about a new Hucknall Health Centre are ongoing – it would be nice for Mr Spencer to be part of them.
"Instead he is playing the politics of the playground
"He is using Hucknall’s health crisis – a crisis the Tories are responsible for – to play games that don’t do a thing to reduce Hucknall’s doctors waiting lists by one person.”