In an astonishing move, Labour councillors have refused to support a recommendation that the full 101 hours of operation should be restored at the Chapel Street NHS Walk-in Centre.
Ever since the Chapel Street NHS Walk-in Centre hours were slashed from 101 hours a week to just 21 without notice and with no public consultation in December 2006, local residents have been protesting to the local teaching Primary Care Trust (tPCT) which is responsible for funding NHS services in Luton. Thousands of Luton residents have signed petitions and such was the fuss generated by the cut in hours that the tPCT is now consulting local residents about the future of the Centre.
The official Luton Council response to the consultation exercise will come from the Council’s Executive and the meeting of the Council’s Scrutiny Board (Wednesday 23rd October) was expected to recommend they take a strong line, asking for full restoration of the service. Astonishingly Labour councillors, who have a majority on the Scrutiny Board, voted down a proposal from Liberal Democrat councillor Michael Dolling and instead decided they would have a look at the final tPCT decision after it had been announced.
“I was there and I really could not believe what was happening,” says Cllr Jenny Davies.
“What is the point of waiting until they make an unacceptable decision and then complaining about it? Surely we should be doing everything we can to influence the decision before it is made. What will these Labour councillors say to the thousands of Luton people who signed the Liberal Democrat petition demanding full restoration?”