Wigan resident criticises new health hub

Demolition on Ashton Town Hall began in summer last year
Demolition on Ashton Town Hall began in summer last year

An unhappy Wigan resident has criticised developers of a controversial new health hub after it was revealed that the building is running around a year late.

John Austin, from Ashton, has long campaigned against the demolition of the form town hall and plans to build a medical centre in its place.

More than a year ago Mr Austin called for a planning inspector to review the Bryn Street proposals if permission was granted - which it was in January last year.

But now it has been revealed that work will not begin on the new building until summer, the opposer has voiced his concerns that the taxpayer will end up footing the bill for the mounting costs.

Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has recently explained that one of the causes of the delay is the funding for the fixtures and fittings inside the new healthcare centre.

But Mr Austin has called this an “incredible excuse”, saying that these matters should have already been dealt with.

“No one expects a final fixed cost,” he said.

“But due diligence should have ensured there was at least a conservative estimate of the costs of fitting out the clinic.

“Why were the council and the CCG not fully aware of this long ago ?

“Why did they give planning permission for something which is obviously not financially viable?

“Sustainability and financial viability are key cornerstones to consideration of a planning application.”

Like many residents who have spoken out against the proposal developed by the Eric Wright Health and Care group and the CCG, Mr Austin says that he is not opposed to a new health centre but he thinks the old town hall is the wrong place for it.

He added “We give you something, but only after you’ve been asking for it for 10 years or more but where you don’t want it, without even consulting you properly on it beforehand and ignoring all the many other more suitable sites.

“Then of course we and our ‘preferred partner’ might mess up on the planning and costing and you have to foot the bill and the consequences but these are exciting developments (for us) that we’re keen to push through regardless.”

Mr Austin added that a three-month delay in obtaining planning permission does not excuse a 14-month building delay.

Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and chairman of NHS Wigan Borough Clinical CG, said,“We are fully committed to improving the local NHS facilities for patients in Ashton.

“We and our partners, Eric Wright, have worked hard to get to the point where we hope to be able to start the build shortly.

“Delays on builds are common as the approval process is complicated and sometimes challenging and I appreciate this can be frustrating for local patients who need this new facility.

“However, this is an exciting time and I look forward to the improvement of NHS facilities for our Ashton

patients.”