My personal take on the public meeting ...
Along with what felt like half of Shepton Mallet, I spent last Friday evening down at the council offices in an effort to 'Save Our Hospital Beds'. There was standing room only, and the atmosphere was fizzling with tension.
Firstly, the smarmy overpaid CEO of SomPar Nick Boughton laid out his well rehearsed 'I care about patient safety' and 'It's honestly not about the money' argument to a room of low level scoffs and murmurs.
The rest of the overly confident board continued to blame everything from recruitment issues to Brexit (!) ending with a ridiculous 'Game of Throne's style warning that 'Winter Is Coming'.
They had certainly come well prepared for, what I think they assumed would be a small group of ill informed, elderly people who worried they might not be able to visit great Aunt Maud if she was moved to Frome.
There is no way they were expecting what actually happened. All of Shepton Mallet's finest minds and mouths, who love nothing better than a Facebook showdown about dog poop and pot holes – pulled together and delivered round after round of knock-out verbal punches.
Residents and nurses from our community hospital all testified that there was no issues with staffing or safety at Shepton Mallet site, healthcare professionals disputed the board's alleged attempt at recruitment.
Town councillors from all parties staunchly defended our town. John Parham was visibly enraged, as he asserted that the board are “Only the current custodians of a community hospital which was paid for by and belongs to the residents”
Resident Jon Hardy really turned the debate around when he proposed the board were “Fielding a bogus argument about safety” and this was taken further in a letter by G Paul Turner which actually explains that the board have acted unlawfully by going ahead with the closure without public consultation.
Paramedic, Nick Tolson got raptures of applause when he delivered an ultimatum in a most delightfully jovial way. “... I'm sure you are all very nice people, but I'm afraid you have 7 days to reply to this letter or we will file an injunction!”
The barrage of well researched points from the floor resulted in what truly felt like a 'win' for Shepton – I'm not sure what will happen next but it's certainly 1-0 to us at half time!
League Of Friends Chairman ,Ray Pett concluded that “Decisions made in haste, are regretted at leisure”. SomPar surely regret the day they took on the community of Shepton Mallet.
In other news, it's Poppy Appeal time once again on the run up to remembrance Sunday. I represented the Royal British Legion at the Library fun day last week.
You'll be able to donate, and pick up poppy themed items at the pop-up shop in the market place ( where Minsky's used to be) also in the foyer at Tesco's and Dobbies over the next few weeks. Money collected goes to helping local servicemen and women, veteran's and their families.
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)