North West Leicestershire is about to publish its Local Plan. An inch thick, this pedestrian document tells us that this Council will co-ordinate a wide range of other organisations to ensure infrastructure is provided at the right time and in the right place to absorb the impact of new housing developments and provide for the health needs of people moving into the area.

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

At a recent Policy Development Group, a cross-party committee of elected Members pursued the fate of £1.3M of developer contributions for health that remained unspent, some of it at risk of being paid back.

Lacking a root cause analysis local GPs, NHS England and Council planners were involved in a blame game. The tangle of red tape, risked developers laughing at the public sector as they re-pocket money returned with interest.

Teasing this mess apart has allowed some funds to escape the log-jam and NHS England we are now spending some s106 money on Long Lane Surgery in Coalville and on a surgery in Measham. But I am not taken in by this snippet of good news. Nor do I trust in future solutions such as moving to a Community Infrastructure Levy. My GP informants still describe a legal system that makes easing this money out of the bureaucracy so difficult that most clinicians give up.

Remaining focused on funding GP premises, when so much else is pushing healthcare into the abyss, is almost certainly not enough. A Local Plan with vision would look beyond the immediate needs of service providers, such as GPs to the wider determinants of public health.

Loneliness is a killer. Thanks to the developer-centric demands of the National Planning Policy Framework, the Council’s plans for cultural facilities in Policy IF2 grudgingly allow their expansion if the community can prove an increase in demand.

After the closure of the iconic Snibston Discovery Museum perhaps I should not complain that the Plan appears to major instead on preventing existing community buildings from being demolished.

My colleagues in public health should be pleased to see that the Plan does have a detailed section on transport infrastructure. The Royal College of Physicians reports that there are 40000 deaths a year due to poor air quality mostly from exacerbations of asthma and COPD. We know that we have road junctions that repeatedly breach air quality guidelines including the Copt Oak and Broom Leys junctions.

According to the RAC North West Leicestershire along with neighbours South Derbyshire are in the top 10 Districts where working people are obliged to use their private car to go to work.

It is axiomatic that wealthier communities are healthier communities. Ensuring people in North West Leicestershire can access properly paid employment has to be a key public health strategy.

In supporting this Plan going forward for consultation, I am therefore particularly pleased to support Policy IF5 in which North West Leicestershire, in direct contrast to the County Council, commits itself to supporting the provision of public transport on the Leicester to Burton line.

Providing East-West connectivity and putting the former mining town Coalville of back on the railway map, as HS2 looks increasingly unaffordable, it would be good to get national support for this important public health intervention.

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One Comment

  1. The Leicester-Burton line links us to Nottingham, Derby, Burton in a (sort of) loop with a couple of reversals. No probs; just like going to Skegness. But our forward-looking leaders cannot follow Notts and thus hamstring our needs. Notts make it happen; (trams; heavy passenger rail) but our lot “can’t afford it/ won’t work here/ not needed” etc. etc. A passenger service to Leicester would be a real bonus for many workers from Coalville/Ashby… but not with our pathetic county and district councillors. And “we” voted that crowd in!! Please try to reverse the latest lack of support for the potential passenger service on the errrr… National Forest Line!

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