07:21 Monday 19th September 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: There are reports that a multi-million pound bid to buy the site of the empty PDH has been rejected, and that the land will now be put onto the open property market. The Trust was criticised by Peterborough’s MP Stewart Jackson for not putting the site on the open market in the first place, and Stewart’s with us this morning. Morning Stew.
STEWART JACKSON: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Most people would have been surprised that it wasn’t put out on the open market originally. You were very surprised and shocked, considering they need all the money they can get.
STEWART JACKSON: Well that’s right.They actually vacated the Peterborough District Hospital site last November, so that is now ten months ago. They really should have been in a position, as soon as the site was vacated, to put it straight on the open market. And that could have assisted greatly with reducing their deficit. I don’t understand why they went through the long drawn out process of effectively dealing with just one monopoly developer, who happened to be Bellway, that’s in the public domain, Bellway Homes, who may very well play a part in a new development. But it’s the fact that they’ve delayed for such a long time that has exacerbated the situation. They should have gone straight out to the market. They could have, in my opinion, got a better price from a number of developers, because they have better quality housing in the city. And they could have more importantly put that money back, ring-fenced, into local health care.
PAUL STAINTON: Why did they choose to go that way? Did you get any answers to your questions?
STEWART JACKSON: No. Because what happened was they were pretty slippery, frankly, in terms of making it clear what strategy they were using. I was so frustrated I actually wrote to the Secretary of State and to the Regional Health Authority, the Strategic Health Authority, and also to Monitor, who oversee the work of Foundation Trusts. And all of them basically said, well, we hear what you say, but it’s up to the Trust to decide what they do with their assets. And I never got a straight answer. They never fully committed, one way or the other. They said well we’re still considering it, which is fine, except that they have spent a very significant amount of public money on their residential or commercial estate agents, and also they haven’t reached a decision, and we haven’t got houses on the site. We haven’t got money in the coffers. So I think delay has been unfortunate to say the least.
PAUL STAINTON: And in ten months of course, they’re paying interest on loans and debts and everything else. They could have saved a heck of a chunk of cash, couldn’t they?
STEWART JACKSON: They could have done. They’re paying many hundreds of thousands of pounds a month for their private finance initiative contract to the developer of the new City Hospital. And that money could have been offset to a certain extent, if they had been quick off the mark at the end of last year, and just sold the property at PDH. And in fact that could have been demolished, and we could have had the beginnings of new quality homes for Peterborough. And I firmly believe that we still are in that position now. I think the property market is improving, The homes there will be in a very good location, right near the main arterial road into Peterborough, right near the railway station. And I believe that they will sell. And that will be good news for the Hospital Trust.
PAUL STAINTON: Well let’s hope they can get on with it a bit quicker this time eh, and save some cash and improve the look of Peterborough as you’re coming down Thorpe Road.