MP’s delight as new scheme is approved

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THE LONG running campaign for an Ashton clinic has received a massive boost.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue has received confirmation from Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust’s that they have approved the development of a new scheme for the town.

Ashton has been identified as an area of the borough requiring new health facilities for at least the past two decades.

And the new MP for Makerfield was elected in May pledging to continue the work of predecessor Sir Ian McCartney in bringing new ‘state-of-the-art’ medical facilities to the area.

Ms Fovargue has been in dialogue with former PCT Chief Peter Rowe since her election last May and this had continued with the appointment of Metro Chief Joyce Redfearn.

The PCT have now instructed Foundation for Life - its LIFT company - to move to the formal business case process with a view to final approval by the end of this year. There are now hopes that the new facility could be open within the next two years.

Although health bosses are declining to reveal the location until commercial negotiations for the land are completed.

Ms Fovargue said: “I very much welcome this decision – it’s a huge step forward for healthcare provision in Ashton.

“This is exciting news for Ashton and marks a long campaign to bring a high quality health facility to the town.

“Ashton is the third largest town in the borough and a new health facility would assist in improving the health and wellbeing of residents as well as acting as a catalyst for the further regeneration of the town.

“As always with projects of this magnitude, there continues to be a huge amount of work to get right and it is important that the local community have an input. But this decision is a great new year present for the people of Ashton.”

Ashton Ward Labour Coun Nigel Ash said: “We have waited a long time for this decision and it is great news that the campaign started by the former MP Sir Ian McCartney and continued by Yvonne has moved one big step closer today.

“I am looking forward to learning more about the services that will be available and working with our dedicated health professionals to create a facility that Ashton can be proud of.”

PCT Chairman, Alan Stephenson, confirmed that The Board had asked the LIFT company to move to a formal business case.

“This is just the start of the process. None the less The PCT Board are fully committed to providing a new high quality health facility in Ashton.”

Campaigners are pressing on with plans for a community clinic in Orrell.

The long fight for a new facility has reached a key stage after Metro planners received an application to develop land at the former Farmoor nursing home. A private developer then purchased the site with a view to housing development.

Two years ago the firm agreed to enter into discussions with Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT and Halton and St Helens PCT on developing the site with a general practitioner and community services.