Havering councillors united to save King George

THE CONSERVATIVE and Labour group will form a united front against plans to close the A&E department at King George Hospital.

Councillors agreed to oppose the closure of A&E and the maternity unit at King George Hospital, Goodmayes after a full council meeting on Thursday.

The move followed a debate about problems at the Queen’s Hospital, over Christmas and new year and the affect the proposals to close King George A&E would have on the Romford hospital.

All sides agreed closing the A&E department was wrong, but argued about the decision the council should take next to protect Queen’s.

Cllr Steven Kelly (Con, Emerson Park) argued that instead of protesting they needed to work with doctors at the hospital to improve it.

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He said: “The opposition have put forward an argument of opposition with no attempt to solve the problems other than just to criticise.”

But Cllr Keith Darvill (Lab, Heaton) said all of the political groups needed to follow the example of other places like Redbridge in working together to fight the plans.

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The Conservative group backed down and a compromise was reached whereby their motion to oppose the plans and look at the implications was approved and Labour’s motion to follow the lead of Redbridge and for all political groups to unite was also approved.

The Conservative motion was carried by 49 votes to nil while Labour’s was agreed despite an abstention from 26 Tory councillors.

The Residents’ Association also put forward a motion to support the campaign to retain services at King George, but it was defeated.

Leader of the Residents’ Association Cllr Clarence Barrett (RA, Cranham) said: “The good thing is that both motions are saying the same thing, there is very little difference between them, and we are all really backing the same cause.”

If the Conservative councillors had voted against the Labour motion then it would have been defeated.

Cllr Darvill argued at the end of the meeting that the move was an embarrassment for the Conservative administration.

He said: “It was embarrassing for the Tories because they thought that by abstaining their motion would go through, but what actually happened was that they allowed ours to be passed, as well as theirs.

“Many of them wanted their motion to be carried and they thought that by abstaining they would allow ours to be lost.”

But council leader Cllr Michael White said: “I think we were both agreeing on the same thing, but one approach is to stand outside the hospital waving banners and the other one is to work with the strategic health trust and the community and try to get change.”

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