Petition Hand-in at the Dept of Health, 11am Wed 14 Jan

The Campaign to Save Finsbury Health Centre would like to thank all those who signed and collected signatures for our petition to Alan Johnson asking him to ensure money to refurbish Finsbury Health Centre and keep its NHS services there. We will be handing in the signatures 11am next Wednesday, 14 Jan at the headquarters of the Department of Health, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS. If Whitehall seems too far there’s always the public PCT board meeting at their headquarters 338-346 Goswell Rd, 9.30am Thursday 29 Jan, where a decision on the current proposals is to be reached and we will be making a deputation.

Since writing the petition in August, we now understand a lot more about how PFI projects work. Although the petition demands that LIFT monies be used for the building, it turns out that this scheme requires the sale of the building to a private company and the PCT to lease it back at a rate which would have to cover not only refurbishment and maintenance but interest on a 30 year mortgage and of course a profit to the company Camden and Islington Community Solutions Ltd (CICS). Islington and Camden PCTs both have a 10% share, a Dept of Health owned company “Community Health Partnerships” has 20%, but the private “Community Solutions for Primary Care”, in which Barclays Bank has an interest, has the lion’s share of 60%.

We have suggested the formation of a community trust in order to raise money and oversee the refurbishment – as was successfully done for the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea – but this idea was brushed aside by the PCT without comment. Such a not-for-profit trust however would be in a far better position to raise the necessary conservation grants (thus reducing the need for a mortgage) than either CICS or the PCT itself.

In recent correspondence, Islington PCT (now rebranded “NHS Islington” – how much did that cost?) has doubled the previously quoted estimate for refurbishment to over £9 million, ‘backed’ by a costing per square metre (£5,974) which John Allan, conservation architect and friend of Lubetkin, said was the highest he’d seen for either a refurbishment or new build in 40 years of practice.

We have been advised that if at the end of this month the board decide to accept the proposals to abandon the Finsbury Health Centre and relocate its services there are solid grounds for a judicial review.

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