I wrote to the Times a month ago highlighting the lack of investment in Witham north, the area around Forest Road, the Courts and across the border into Rivenhall. 

With hundreds of new houses already built here and many hundreds more in the planning pipeline the area has seen very little community investment in the last 20 years. 

In fact we are worse off as the only community centre built for the area was demolished by the Conservative district council to allow the flats and houses in the Spinney to be built and what was the quite attractive shopping area and flats around the Little Elms pub is in a dreadful mess, as many residents have reminded me.

I’ve campaigned for years for proper community facilities, including a GP surgery, and we’ve been largely ignored by the district council and local NHS. As many people will know the NHS has been planning a new health hub based in the old Newlands shopping precinct but no progress in the project has been reported for well over a year. 

There are now serious question marks over whether it will get built. 
Witham Town Council has been pressing for an update but we’ve heard nothing. 
However the council has been researching alternatives and has found a very successful community health centre at Bromley by Bow [BBBC] in East London. It does what it says on the tin – it is a community centre that incorporates a GP surgery!

The town council has envisaged creating a similar facility in Witham north which would serve both Witham and Rivenhall residents. 

The resources to undertake such a project are potentially in place as the local NHS have accepted the need to fund and expand facilities as the town’s population grows and the district earmarked some £3.8million to help develop these, with their share of the money coming from the sale of local Witham assets. 

Further money can be generated from the so called Section 106 funds resulting from the new Bellway housing developments being built.

The district council’s cabinet member for health is aware of the BBBC, having attended the video presentation, and the town council has had a first exploratory meeting with the cabinet member for community to explain the concept.

This is clearly early days and doesn’t guarantee success but it does point to a real solution to provide both a community centre and health facility for which my residents having waited for nearly 50 years. 

I moved to Witham in 1975 so I’ve not been waiting quite so long but I’ve been

campaigning for this since the 1980s.
Phil Barlow 
Town Councillor Witham North – Chairman of the Town Council Health Facilities Group