“Campaign to keep Brighton General Hospital land public”

“CAMPAIGNERS fighting to keep Brighton General Hospital land in public ownership are calling for more people to get involved.

About 100 people heard NHS campaigners, councillors and two MPs at a public meeting speak about the using the site for low-cost social housing.

Plans to redevelop the former Victorian workhouse at the top of Elm Grove are under discussion.

A new community health hub is proposed for the current ambulance station site, with a GP surgery and pharmacy, along with existing services for mental health, podiatry and early parenting. Health chiefs have said the cost of the project could be funded by selling the rest of the site for housing.

When Brighton and Hove City Council’s health and wellbeing board was given a briefing in November last year, one suggestion was the site be used to build homes for health workers.

An online petition, calling for meaningful public consultation about the future of the site, as well as asking for community beds and homes for social rent has more than 1,300 signatures.

Green councillor David Gibson said the site was a public asset in a city with “horrendous” housing problems. He added the Greens and Labour councillors and activists from the Brighton Housing Coalition, Sussex Defend The NHS and the Save Whitehawk Hill group had come together to shift the agenda to social housing.

Cllr Gibson said: “Privatisation and inequality have gone together. This country has become one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

“You get better outcomes if you narrow inequality. If you want to narrow inequality, you need public provision, public support and public services which are decent.”

He said the council’s chief executive Geoff Raw would be meeting the board of the Brighton General landowner, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, to discuss options.

The campaign is pushing for the site to be taken into council ownership.

Carolyn Pickering, of Sussex Defend The NHS, reminded the audience the NHS freed people from the fear of choosing which child to spend their savings on if one became ill. She said: “The land is still part of the NHS. The NHS belongs to us and the land belongs to us so they should not be allowed to sell it.”

Council leader Nancy Platts said: “We will be inviting all interested parties into meetings about the Brighton General site and this includes the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust as well as those campaigning about the future use of the site.”