Since our meeting at the end of September there has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes by both Cllr Martin Klute and SaveFHC to gather more information about forming a community trust and from Heritage of London Trust Operations (HOLTOps) about their experience and ideas about how refurbishment could be accomplished. Several people from the 30 September meeting said they were interested in helping form a community trust, and to that end we are holding a meeting on Thursday, 4 November at the 1a Arts Centre, 1a Roseberry Avenue, (between Gray’s Inn Buildings and Hatton Primary School) at 7pm.
From the information gathered so far, this would ideally be a trust to work with HOLTOps during the fundraising and project management stages of refurbishing both FHC and the Pine St site, and then take over management of the buildings afterwards. HOLTOps have maintained their interest in this project for over the last eighteen months, and seem very keen to get on with the job. What is needed at the moment is an Options Appraisal of what services will go in to both buildings, a cost estimate, and what funding is likely to be available – HOLTOps can do this for between £15-20k. They feel confident of being able to tap monies from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the various (and wealthy) medical trusts which also have an interest in heritage.
FHC staff, patients, and anyone who has administrative skills are especially encouraged to come to the 4 November meeting.
As reported in the Islington Gazette and Islington Tribune in October, the PCT has said publicly in the last month that they are now ‘looking for serious proposals’ re charitable funding to refurbish FHC. In a move which at least conceded the point that the community services offered at FHC are needed in this area, over the last year the PCT developed lavish plans for a new South Islington Neighbourhood Health Centre on two different sites (to be found under ‘Other associated information’ on this link). Last July, as well as rejecting the Council’s recommendations about exploring options to keep FHC open, they also announced that there isn’t enough money to pursue their ideas for a new-build. In the wake of cuts to the local NHS capital budget, they admitted that they are forced to use FHC for the time being, but there is still no official commitment to keeping it as a health centre.
Besides the budget constraints there is also pressure coming from other quarters. The PCT have recently been told by English Heritage to at least make a stab at the most urgent of the £2 million backlog of repairs needed. On top of this, papers were served last week asking for a judicial review of their 22 July decision to reject the Council proposals.
In the meantime both staff and patients make do with very bad conditions in parts of FHC, and most have somehow maintained their affection for the building as well as a strong commitment to seeing it refurbished and modernised. Hopefully where reason and popular support didn’t work other circumstances will, and the PCT will see its way to working with our community to get plans for FHC and the Pine St Centre sorted out as quickly as possible.
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