Sunday, September 28, 2008

Concerns Raised Over Changes to Dispensing Doctors

A number of Gilberdyke Health Centre patients have raised the issue of the Centre despensary's future.

It is very frustrating when yet again this Labour Government, with its majority of Urban MPs, tries to walk all over rural communities. On the back of it's savage post office closure programme we now see dispensaries as the next target.

Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis has expressed concerns over proposals by the Government to change the way in which doctors can dispense medicines to their patients. Presently, any patient living more than 1 mile away from their doctor’s practice is able to have their medicines dispensed by the doctor, in future it would be the distance from the surgery to the nearest community pharmacy. This could result in the loss of many dispensing practices that provide a vital service in rural communities.

David Davis said:

“This is yet another example of the Government not understanding the needs of our rural communities. In 2006 the 1,170 dispensing practices administered just 7% of prescriptions in England. Many of these doctors used the profit generated from this activity to re-invest in services, for example providing additional healthcare services in remote or under-doctored areas. These changes could put many of those additional services offered by dispensing doctors at risk.

Our dispensing doctors do a great job in rural communities and their services help to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and also ensure a continuity of care. If dispensing doctors are prohibited from dispensing if a pharmacy is close by, there is a risk that many patients from rural villages could lose access to the most convenient service for them, including arrangements in villages for local collection of prescriptions.

Whilst I welcome Government proposals to remove the anomaly that some medicines could be bought at newsagents but were not available from the GP surgery, I cannot support their proposals to change the distance rules governing dispensing doctors.

I have no problem with an extended community role for local pharmacists but this must not come at the expense of our dispensing doctors. Patients in rural areas need a choice, at the moment anyone receiving a prescription from a dispensing doctor can choose to either have it dispensed at the practice or at a nearby pharmacy. I want to see that choice continue for my constituents.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Funding Boost for Rural Areas of the East Riding of Yorkshire

One of my roles as an East Riding of Yorkshire Councillor is to be a 'critical friend' to the ERYC Rural Policy and Programmes department. This is something I really enjoy as it is a subject in which I have a real interest, as many who know me can testify.

So I am pleased that a major grant funding has been announced for the Coast, Wolds, Wetlands and Waterways (CWWW) region, which covers a large (880 square miles) rural area of the East Riding and North Yorkshire (but excluding Bridlington, Goole, Beverley and the surrounding rural areas).

The funding has been confirmed by Yorkshire Forward, the Government Office for the region, and is made under the Rural Development Programme for England LEADER programme, a grant funding initiative aimed at assisting rural communities to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity in their local area. The programme is administered by the Regional Development Agency in each of the English regions and, in this region, it is Yorkshire Forward. The East Riding of Yorkshire Council is the accountable body for the CWWW local action group.

Yorkshire Forward has agreed to fund the CWWW’s local development strategy and will shortly be finalising its decision and announce the amount of funding to be awarded.

The key themes of the local development strategy are:

To maximise business opportunities throughout the delivery of the programme that lead to the development of new and exciting local enterprises.

To build capacity and empower rural communities by drawing on the potential of the area’s natural and cultural heritage.

To stimulate growth of the cultural and creative sectors through the development of creative space and capacity.

Building on the potential of the area’s natural heritage opportunities, develop local ownership of and participation in environmental management, planning and interpretation.

To develop facilities and networks of activity that create a focus and enable understanding and connectivity to local heritage and landscape.

These themes will incorporate a range of initiatives to encourage innovation, enterprise and skills building so that community capacity is strengthened for the long term. They all contribute to the overall aim of the CWWW programme which is to utilise the unrealised potential of the area’s heritage and culture to stimulate local vibrancy, encourage enhanced pride in place, and thereby improve the area’s economic performance and social sustainability.

Helen Wright, the ERYC Rural Policy and Programmes Manager said, “The CWWW programme will build on and consolidate existing activity and disseminate best practice to the new area as well as identifying new programmes and projects.

“The LEADER programme is a vital lever in helping regenerate and renew rural communities which do not always attract the high profile and intervention strategies of the UK’s urban areas. Thanks must be given to all those who gave their time and expertise in putting together the Local Development Strategy. ”

I would like to congratulate and thank Helen Wright and her team for all the work that has gone into achiveing this funding. Well done!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dropped Kerbs update

After looking further into this issue I can confirm that it is the law of the land that dictates that residents must provide dropped kerbs in front of their driveways, and although some council houses have dropped kerbs, allegedly provided by previous authorities, some have not, ultimately a proper form of access over the footpath is required, and unfortunately it is the responsibility of the householder to provide that access.

Originally it was the wording and aggressive tone of a letter from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (as detailed previously)regarding the dropped kerb issue that had caused the anxiety amongst the residents who had received it. I have now had it confirmed that there will be no further letters sent out to residents until it has been redrafted.

It is a credit to the residents of Eastrington's Pinfold Street that they have been able to form their our community group, to work together in order to minimise the cost to install dropped kerbs at the front of their properties. The costs are reduced by only having to submit the one joint planning application and benefiting from the economies of scale gained by using one contractor to carry out all the work.

Residents who continue to use their drives should be mindful of their liability for any damage to underground services in the footpath caused by vehicular movements above, and although using unauthorised accesses across the footpath is still technically illegal, I would hope the council would not be rushing out to fine residents, particularly if they have already made contact with the council in reply to the original letter.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Eastrington & Howden Residents Hit With Demand To 'Drop Kerbs'

With Howden Councillor Mark Preston and Eastrington Residents

A number of East Riding residents have been receiving a somewhat threatening letter from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) regarding ‘Unauthorised Vehicular Access’ from public highways. The letter informs residents that they must stop using their drives until a satisfactory means of access to the ‘kerbed footway or verge’ has been constructed to the satisfaction of the council – or in layman’s terms: until the householder has paid a council approved contractor to install dropped kerbs in the footpath fronting their property at a cost estimated to be £800. Failure to do so and residents will be guilty of a criminal offence and liable to a fine not exceeding £1,000.

A dozen or so residents of Eastrington’s Pinfold Street received these letters, and after meeting with them I can confirm their attitude ranged from anger to worry, angry that the issue of the dropped kerbs had not been picked up during the process when they purchased their homes (in some instances buying the house from the council), and worried that they will be faced with a fine if they continue to use their drives as they have done for as many as 40 years. Some of the residents are pensioners; others are even council tenants – living in council houses!

I am led to believe that since receiving the letters some householders have parked their vehicles on Pinfold Street which had the effect of blocking the road for farm vehicles, particularly combine harvesters, who were trying to get to their fields after the crops had at last dried out sufficiently to harvest. If all the residents on Pinfold Street resort to parking their cars on the road, I'm sure the resulting traffic congestion in the area would be unacceptable. We have to remember that for an action there can sometimes be an equal or greater reaction that is not foreseen.

Residents on Howden's Derwent Estate who received similar letters have the same concerns and contacted my fellow ERY Councillor Mark Preston regarding the issue.

I share the feelings of the residents of Eastrington and Howden when they say the letters are badly written and somewhat intimidating. I don't have a problem as such with the concept of householders paying for their own 'dropped kerb access', if it is their responsibility.

It is unfortunate that residents were not given a notice period rather than the threat of a £1000 fine, and in the present climate many people may not be able to find the £800 at one time to pay for this work. Obviously this is an internal matter for the Council of which I am a member, BUT I hope the sending out of such ‘heavy handed’ letters will not be repeated and lessons will be learnt.