As you know I have been strongly campaigning on a number of issues for the past five years and that still continues.
But it is difficult to make the progress we all want, as quickly as we would like, because of the seemingly unending need by bodies within the NHS and local councils to carry out audits and employ consultants to look at various issues.
In particular, I am frustrated at the lack of any clear progress on our three local hospital sites: North Cambs at Wisbech, Doddington and Princess of Wales at Ely.
Cambridgeshire Community Services announced it was carrying out an inventory of these sites at the end of last year and the report was due at the end of April.
That deadline was pushed back to June. We are in July and I have now learned there is no date for when the findings will be reported back.
Meanwhile we have sites that we could clearly make better use of to provide more health services closer to home, something I feel is vital in our area, where acute hospitals are at least 30 to 40 minutes away and difficult to reach by public transport.
March Community Education Centre is an ideal location for an arts hub for the town, something March lacks. The Arts Council has provided around £1 million of funding for an arts project in Fenland’s four market towns and in neighbouring Forest Heath.
Yet I have been told that March’s share of the cash cannot be used to help provide an arts centre, but must be used to drive up participation in the arts. The result is likely to leave no tangible legacy.
In addition we cannot make progress on a stand-alone scheme to create the arts centre March needs, as we have to await a consultants’ report on all the public buildings in the town, which has been requested by Cambridgeshire County Council, which owns the centre in Station Road.
The consultants have yet to be appointed and so it is unclear when there will be an opportunity to make a start on creating an arts hub at the March Community Centre.
I would like to see less focus on appointing consultants and more on providing facilities. Consultants are costly and, in many cases, an unnecessary expenditure of public money. Our local authorities employ staff who are equally well equipped to carry out surveys and inventories – at a fraction of the cost.
Let’s stop prevaricating and get on with the job in hand.