Oswestry Town Council has demanded the closure of the town’s ambulance station, planned for October 4, be stopped until a full public consultation has been held.
Oswestry Town Councillors said the lack of engagement by West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), which announced last week that the station would be closing on October 4, was “disrespectful” to the people of the town who had already seen police, health and other services stripped back in recent years. Members of the public packed into the council chamber on Wednesday evening to voice their concerns over the plans, which they said would impact ambulance availability, waiting times and ultimately public safety.
Lawrence Chapple-Gill, whose online campaign group against the closure had attracted more than 2,000 members in a matter of days, told councillors there was “lots of fear, concern, worry and lots of anger” in the town over the shock announcement. He said: “The common thread is the distinct and absolute lack of consultation, public engagement and involvement with the people of Oswestry on the part of WMAS.” He said the group had a meeting arranged with WMAS representatives for the following day and that “We are going to be calling upon them tomorrow, absolutely clearly, to defer the decision to close the ambulance station on October 4, and in the meantime to engage in an adequate, meaningful process where there is consultation, there is information, there is engagement, and the people of Oswestry can be listened to and answered rather than just having something done to them.”
Councillor Jonathan Upton, who has put forward a motion to invite the ambulance service to a public meeting to explain the reasoning behind the decision and how it will ensure the level of service in the area does not deteriorate, said: “There has been very little information given out about the closure. We were informed via the press. There was no consultation period.”
Councillor Duncan Kerr proposed to go one step further and “demand” the planned closure be postponed until WMAS had engaged with the public.
Councillor Paul Milner said Oswestry, despite being Shropshire’s second largest town, had seen a marked reduction in services over the year while its population has continued to grow. He said: “We have lost the district hospital, the A&E, the maternity unit, the police station and now the ambulance station. Enough is enough.”
Councillor Mike Isherwood said it was “disrespectful” of the ambulance service not to offer members of the public the chance to have their say before a decision was taken. He added: “Oswestry people are fed up of being downgraded all the time.”
Councillor Jay Moore said he had spoken to two local ambulance crews and they had told him “the closure of this station is going to impact their ability to respond to calls quicker”.
Councillors voted unanimously in support of the motion.