“East Devon District Council (EDDC) announced on February 27 that supporters must wait until February 2020 before re-applying for the hospital to be listed as an asset of community value (ACV). When a building is listed as an ACV, the local community has to be informed if it goes up for sale and the public can enact the ‘community right to bid’ which gives them a period of six months to determine if they can raise the finance to purchase the asset.
The initial decision not to list the building as an ACV came in December when Ottery was one of four East Devon hospitals to be nominated. EDDC stated that it did not believe the hospital furthered the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community.
At the council meeting on February 27, Cllr Roger Giles, who also sits on the Ottery Town Council, raised the matter and referenced Southwold Hospital, in Suffolk, which was successfully listed as an ACV, before becoming the first hospital in the country to be bought by the community.
As part of the decision to list it as an ACV, Cllr Giles said the strategic director of WDC stated the owner’s assertion there is no evidence of the community social wellbeing being furthered defied common sense.
Cllr Giles said this is a view shared by many local Ottery residents about their hospital and warned that Ottery and other local community hospitals are at risk because of this perverse decision. He said EDDC is suffering reputational damage as a result of this ‘very regrettable’ decision.
Cllr Ian Thomas, leader of EDDC, said each case is considered on its merits and there had been no new evidence to warrant a review for Ottery.
Last week, leading figures from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and the Northern, Eastern and Western Locality Devon Clinical Commissioning Group attended a discussion to review plans for the building. A statement from the working group said: “A wide-ranging and constructive discussion took place, and a number of tasks were allocated.”
A further meeting will be held in early June.”