On Saturday 17th February the HOLD campaign launched their series of #PetitionStorm Events in Cinderford East. Since then, the campaign has hosted two more similar sessions at Wyedean Sixth Form Centre and, most recently, in Lydney East on Saturday 17th March.
Zac Arnold, Press Liaison for the HOLD Campaign said: “The launch of our #PetitionStorm campaign was a great success with 14 volunteers joining us in Cinderford for a door to door petitioning session. But it also reinforced some very serious concerns we have regarding the validity of the public consultation.”
The public consultation ended in October last year and the outcome was published in early January this year. The outcome report made clear that from the small amount of responses received, the majority were still either against the proposals to close Lydney and Dilke hospitals or undecided. The responses being 46% against the proposal, 12% undecided and the remainder were for the proposal.
Arnold continued: “From petitioning so far, the HOLD campaign have identified three trends that reinforce serious concerns that we previously had. When looking at the responses received by our volunteers on the ground, we can see three trends. The first being that 90% of all residents we have canvassed have been against the NHS proposals.”
So, the campaign has identified that if the same patterns of responses continue, residents of the Forest of Dean are against the closure of Lydney and Dilke hospitals by a substantial majority of upto 90%.
Arnold continued: “whilst we have been canvassing, we have asked a series of questions, the most important being ‘Were you aware of the public consultation?’ and this is where a major concern arises. From data collected by the campaign, roughly 2 in every 3 residents canvassed were completely unaware of a consultation even taking place. Some residents were not even aware of the threat to the hospitals at all. This shows clearly how the consultation was an absolute shambles. It was not a public consultation at all, as not everyone was aware of it even taking place.”
The final trend picked up by the campaign questions the entire concepts of democracy and accountability within the District. Councillors from Cinderford Town Council have previously defended their stance over the hospitals and claimed that they have ‘spoken to residents who live within our wards’. Two councillors who have said this are councillors for Cinderford East.
Arnold continued: “speaking to residents of Cinderford East was particularly interesting especially when we asked the question ‘have your local councillors asked you about this?’ to which we didn’t hear a single yes. Not a single one of the residents we canvassed had been approached by the people who were elected to represent them.”
The HOLD Campaign will be hosting similar events across the District over the coming weeks and months with our next events taking place in Sedbury and then Ruardean and our supporters will be notified as soon as we have dates and locations finalised.