Whitehaven News column – 3rd July 2014

March for the West Cumberland Hospital
This Sunday, the march for the West Cumberland Hospital will take place. Beginning at 1.15 in Whitehaven Market Place, it’s a short walk to Castle Park. Please try and make the march, because our voices must be heard.
Services have been withdrawn without consultation, we’re facing an incredible recruitment crisis, government policy has damaged our hospital hugely, the new build project has been, cut, cancelled, reinstated and then under-funded and don’t forget, the Trust recently struggled to pay its electricity bill.
Our hospital is at the heart of our community. It binds us together. People of all political opinions want the best for it and until we get the services we need, want and deserve, the fight will continue.
Repeated requests to the government for help go unanswered, that’s why following my most recent tour of the hospital new build project, I have written to the Trust Development Authority seeking more money for the project. The new hospital looks fantastic, to the lay person, all of the equipment and facilities we need appear to be in place – but if the people aren’t there to provide the services and if the money isn’t available to finish the job and if the system isn’t in place to genuinely provide the health services we want and need; then that is not what we were promised during the lengthy ‘Closer to Home’ consultation.
Your voice matters. The West Cumberland Hospital Facebook Campaign Group has done brilliant work and Siobhan Gearing deserves real credit. See you there.
Building a New West Cumbria
It’s been an astonishing week in terms of understanding what our economic future will look like. This week’s announcement from Nugen and Toshiba concerning the development of three new nuclear reactors at Moorside is fantastic news.
From helping to develop new national nuclear policy with the No.10 Policy Unit in 2005, to ensuring that Moorside was chosen as a location for new nuclear development (a hard won battle) to working with successive energy ministers in the coalition government to ensure that policy stayed on course – it’s been a long haul to get to this point.
The biggest nuclear development in Europe, up to 21,000 new jobs and the biggest ever private sector investment that our area has ever seen. Not a single part of this is an accident.
Of course this means that our hospital services are even more important – inevitably, there will soon be many more people using them. In health, education, transport, housing and other infrastructure there is a huge amount of work to be done.
Our local economic future is incredibly bright. Alongside the job projections sits the hospital development, an investment  in excess of £100m, the ongoing project for the £35m new school campus in Whitehaven, the £25m new office developments in Whitehaven town centre and other town centre development projects on the way.
Is there another area of comparable size in the United Kingdom set to receive the sheer scale of economic investment that we are in West Cumbria? I don’t believe there is  – and every penny has been hard won.
 I’ll continue to work to deliver this project, but with NuGen it’s clear we now have the partners in place with the commitment, determination and ability to deliver our local economic ambitions.

Our best days are ahead of us. Whisper it, but we should begin to prepare for success.

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