Council chief calls for calm

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A COUNCIL leader has called for people to “act responsibly” when controversial changes to health services in Hartlepool are discussed at a meeting tomorrow night.

Hartlepool Borough Council is holding an extraordinary meeting at 7pm tomorrow to discuss health services following the closure of the accident and emergency unit at the town’s University Hospital of Hartlepool on August 2.

The decision to axe A&E was met with anger by people across Hartlepool and east Durham.

Representatives from the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Hartlepool will attend tomorrow’s meeting and it is anticipated that feelings could be “running high”. At a recent meeting of the full council, councillors unanimously backed a motion opposing any more services being removed from the Holdforth Road-based hospital until the proposed new hospital is built.

Proceedings will be videoed by council staff in the interests of public safety. Hartlepool Council chairman, Councillor Carl Richardson, who will chair the meeting, said: “This will be an opportunity for all councillors to listen to the rationale behind the A&E closure and how the new arrangements are working.

“There will then be the opportunity for councillors to put questions to the NHS representatives who will be present.

“We fully appreciate that some people’s emotions are running high on this issue, so have taken the decision to video the proceedings in the interest of public safety.

“Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting and I sincerely hope that everyone acts responsibly so that councillors can have a full and frank debate.”

The meeting gets under way at 7pm in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre, with doors opening at 6.30pm.

There is only room for 60 people in the public gallery, so anyone wishing to attend is advised to get there early.

l A full report from the meeting will appear in Friday’s Hartlepool

Mail.

l See tomorrow’s Mail for what your councillors think about the future of the hospital.