No date yet for meeting on changes

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CIVIC chiefs are yet to decide where and when a crunch meeting to discuss the changes to health services in Hartlepool will be held.

The extraordinary meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council was due to take place last Thursday night, but councillors voted to adjourn the discussion due to the high turn-out by residents.

It had been called after the closure of the A&E department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool on August 2 sparked anger.

Meanwhile, council chairman Carl Richardson has revealed that there was originally room for 100 members of the public at the meeting.

But threats of “civil disobedience” made on an internet forum ahead of the meeting led to it being capped at 60.

That led to angry scenes inside the foyer at the civic centre as dozens of people were turned away. The meeting was then opened and adjourned so it could be rearranged to a bigger venue.

Coun Richardson said: “Under normal circumstances we could have accommodated around 100 members of the public in the council chamber but following threats of civil disobedience on a website in the days leading up to the event a risk assessment was carried out by health and safety.

“They advised that we use the fixed seating only in the interests of public safety and I was happy to go along with this advice.

“As I have said previously, at this late stage it was too late to move the meeting to another venue but we did publicise that seating for members of the public would be restricted to 60.

“We are still exploring a suitable venue and date for the next meeting and as soon as this is confirmed it will be well publicised.”

No new date has yet been set but it is understood that the meeting could be held on Thursday, September 22, at the new Hartlepool College of Further Education building.

Other possible venues include the Town Hall Theatre or the Borough Hall, on the Headland.

The A&E service was declared unfit for purpose after an independent review in March.

Instead, patients in need of emergency attention for minor injuries are now being dealt with at the £20m One Life Hartlepool centre, in Park Road.

As well as using One Life Hartlepool, patients are also treated at the emergency assessment unit at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, after being admitted by ambulance or their GP.