names and addresses




All phone numbers on this site are code unless shown otherwise.


Comments, Ideas,
Criticisms, Articles

Finding us
A "secret" road
Map of Chippy
Stay in Chippy
Stay nearby
Holiday Cottages
Things to see
Chippy's Pubs
Pubs Nearby
Some History



Census Info






Visit the
Theatre Website





There was a County Council Cabinet meeting this week which discussed our new hospital. A press release below outlines the very worrying outcome. Hilary Biles our County Councillor tells us....

I spoke at the Cabinet meeting on behalf of Chipping Norton. I begged them not to consider closure. I met with David Cameron last Friday to ask him to call a meeting of relevant parties (including Barry Norton and myself) to include Inland Revenue and Customs and Exexcise to try and thrash this out as it will not only affect us but any other partnership in the UK which is exactly what the government encourage. David is doing that and he dictated the letter in front of me. I am on a war footing!!!!!"

OCC PRESS RELEASE.............

Council committed to new care home for Chipping Norton - but issues stark warning

Oxfordshire County Council is determined to see through the development of a new care home and modern health care facilities at Chipping Norton. That was the commitment given by the councils policy-making Cabinet Committee on Tuesday 19 December when the replacements for the existing care home at Castle View and the closed War Memorial Hospital were discussed. But senior councillors also issued a stark warning that the council - on advice - would be forced to withdraw from the scheme, if NHS accounting rules and VAT issues have not been resolved by the time the councils Cabinet Committee meets in March.

Under the scheme the council would buy 20 care beds in the new development - which would also include a primary care centre - while the Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) would buy 14. A further 16 care beds would be let out to private purchasers. The council is all ready to go ahead, but the PCT is battling to overcome two major obstacles thrown up by national bureaucracy.

The first problem is that the PCT is depending on cash from the sale of the closed War Memorial Hospital to pay for its part of the scheme. But national NHS rules say that if, as expected, the building sells for a lower price than the artificial book price that their finance people have determined for the building, the PCT will have to make up the shortfall. This would leave the PCT with less cash than anticipated. The second problem is that Revenue and Excise officers are at present insisting that the scheme developers, the Order of St Johns, pay 475,000 VAT - related to the PCTs allocation of beds - on the building costs. This would force the OSJ to increase the cost of all the beds so much that the county council could not justify spending tax-payers money on them.

If the county council is forced to withdraw from the scheme, it will reluctantly have to close Castle View, which is in a poor state of repair and unable to accommodate people in need of very high levels of care. Instead, it would fulfil its undertaking to buy 20 social care beds in the Chipping Norton area by buying from independent care homes.

County councillor and Cabinet Member Don Seale said: We are totally committed to this excellent scheme which would really benefit local people. Unfortunately the powers that be at national level are making it extremely difficult for the PCT to fulfil its side of the bargain. There is a limit to the amount of time we can keep Castle View open. Its in a poor state of repair and cannot meet modern requirements for bigger rooms and access for disabled people. At some stage we have to draw a line. We can only hope that the national bureaucrats whose rules are currently blocking progress can be persuaded to join us in finding a way around the problems.


With so many snags arising on the hospital front and with a new PCT taking over Clive Hill of the Chippy Healthcare Users Group wrote to the NHS and the County Council seeking reassurances that both organisations remained committed to the previously agreed plans. We received replies this week. The key paragraphs from the letters are shown below. We take these as extremely positive (although we also notice the careful drafting of certain sections) so pressure is now on to solve the planning, VAT and property transfer issues.



The Planning Application for our new hospital has been deferred four times. The situation is getting serious. An Environmental Assessment was belatedly asked for at the meeting last month of the Uplands Planning Committee from the applicant - the County Council. No sign of it yet and time is ticking by. The County Council postponed its go/no go decision about the Care Home- originally scheduled for Nov 21st. There is just the slightest suspicion that the two Tory local authorities (whose officers got us into this mess) are not exactly pulling out all the stops. There is another Planning Meeting on December 4th. Two LibDem members of the Planning Committee Stuart Brooks (LibDem Leader and Member for Hanborough) and Mike Breakell (Charlbury) have put down a motion which is clearly designed to try and avoid any more delays. Its great that we have some friends on the committee watching out for us. Let us hope that our own District Councillor Mike Howes supports the motion.

The motion is This sub-committee, being aware of the protracted timescales to determine the planning application related to the provision of health facilities on Rockhill Farm, London Road, Chipping Norton , resolves to convene a special meeting of the Uplands Area Planning Sub-Committee with the intention of determining this application at the earliest possible opportunity following submission of the required environmental statement.

We understand that the committee decided on Monday to refer the matter to a special meeting of the Development Control committee as soon as the Environmental Assessment is received. Hopefully things are now on the fastest track possible.


Thank goodness for the WODC Cabinet. At least they are still fighting to keep our hospital plans alive. There are problems about Planning, VAT and the transfer of assets from the NHS. (Read a summary of all this here:
http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/content/public/Resources/hlpdownloads/ca/CA-11.htm )
Just before Christmas the County Council lost patience and issued an ultimatum to the NHS telling them that if they couldn't get their act together before March 31st then the County would withdraw from the whole scheme - which would kill it stone dead. This didn't seem like the most helpful contribution to making progress since the poor old NHS are flailing around between the Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Health, the Strategic Heath Authority and the Treasury to try and find a solution - as well as undergoing their third re-organisation in three years. Silly deadlines are not going to help them very much. So now the WODC Cabinet have an emergency resolution before them for a Cabinet meeting on Jan 3rd. The resolution says:

(a) That the Strategic Director (Environment) and Cabinet Member for Health writes on behalf of the Council to the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council and the Chair of the Oxfordshire PCT expressing the Councils serious concern that essential health and social care facilities in West Oxfordshire may be lost if a number of financial and planning issues cannot be resolved by 31st March 2007.

(b) The letter calls for all parties concerned in the planning and delivery of the scheme, along with key stakeholders, to meet at the earliest opportunity to agree any actions that need to be resolved in order to ensure that the new care home and primary care facility proceeds in 2007.

Make no mistake - in the bureaucratic world of local government - an "expression of serious concern" - is strong stuff. But much more important is the District Council's constructive proposal to convene a round table meeting of all the stakeholders to try and thrash out a solution. That sounds like exactly the right idea. We understand that our County Councillor Hilary Biles is co-ordinating this campaign and that David Cameron is taking a leading role in the effort to try and bash heads together. We wish them every success and they need our support.

Its a very difficult time to organise anything. The Cabinet Meeting is next Wednesday - just one working day away. The resolution was only just published. But there is absolutely nothing more important than this on the Town Agenda for 2007. The Action Group AND the Town Council both need to be participating in that Cabinet Meeting on Jan 3rd to show our support and solidarity. And we desperately need a group of townspeople down in Witney showing that we haven't thrown the towel in on our hospital yet.


AGENDA http://www.westoxon.gov.uk/council/meetings.cfm/1912


As everyone will know by now the plans for a new hospital and care home have run into some last minute snags which need time to sort out. Lots of people are working hard to try and find answers. Not least a powerful Tory group consisting of Hilary Biles (our County Councillor), David Cameron (our MP) and Barry Norton (Leader of WODC). But this is a cross-party effort. Eve Coles (Labour District Councillor) and Stuart Brookes (LibDem Leader on WODC) are working their socks off to try and help move things forward. The Officers of WODC and particularly Cath James are all pushing for solutions. Two weeks ago the Cabinet of the County Council took an extremely unhelpful step. They imposed a deadline and said that if the NHS hadn't sorted everything out by March 31st then the County Council would be withdrawing from the Care Home part of the deal - which would effectively kill the whole thing. Hospital included. This week the Cabinet of WODC reacted angrily to this move and have written to the County asking for the deadline to be lifted (report below). Next Tuesday (9th January) the County Council Cabinet decision is reported to the Full Council. We absolutely must get this March 31st deadline lifted. David Cameron has convened a a crisis meeting for all parties to try and thrash things out. That meeting must be allowed to happen without the pressure of some stupid deadline. We know the local Tories are lobbying hard. Hilary Biles is meeting the Leader of OCC on Sunday to put the case. Have the Local Labour Party and LibDems contacted their party's county councillors to try and win their support What are the League of Friends doing Our vicar and Rural Dean Canon Stephen Weston (who is Chair of CHUG - the Chippy Healthcare User Group) will be addressing the Council meeting on behalf of the people of Chippy and surrounding villages emphasising our hopes that a way forward can be found - with goodwill and tolerance on all sides. The Council Meeting is at County Hall in Oxford at 10am on Tuesday. It would be good if we could try and fill the Public Gallery and let the councillors know that the people of Chippy are still on the case. The odd placard might attract some media interest!! This meeting is truly important. Please try and get there if you can.


There was lots of strong talk at the WODC Cabinet meeting in Witney on 3rd January....but your correspondent is not really convinced it will lead to effective action. The Cabinet passed an emergency resolution proposed by Hilary Biles to demand that the OCC extends its deadline of March 31st to allow time for answers to be found to the various problems (like VAT, "impairment" and Planning objections) which have cropped up at the eleventh hour. Having spent three years discussing the details of the Hospital/Care Home scheme there is now a real danger that things could go pear-shaped. Hilary has persuaded David Cameron to convene and chair a round-table meeting of all the stakeholders to try and find solutions. But there was absolutely no confidence around the council chamber that there were actually any solutions to be found. Neil Owen said it would be a "betrayal" of the people of Chipping Norton if the scheme fell through. Mike Howes said that the bureaucracy was staggering and if a "business plan" had been produced at the outset we wouldn't be in this mess. David Harvey simply couldn't believe that Chipping Norton was the first place to face these issues about VAT and "impairment" in the country - there must be precedents. Eve Coles emphasised the expectations of people in the town and the need for urgency. Mary Neale said the District Council should get on and lobby the Inland Revenue directly on the VAT issue - not wait for meetings or for someone else to do it. (The problem though is that Dawn Primerolo has already written to David Cameron saying she has no power to influence the Revenue about VAT decisions - so if she has no power, what hope is there for a lobby from the WODC) Verena Hunt said it wasn't good enough for the County Council to just be imposing deadlines. They should be proactively helping to find a solution. Simon Hoare (the District's representative on the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and a key player in all this) said he was not convinced that the County and the NHS were really serious any more about building this hospital - he thought this was all another stalling operation. Where did this new deadline come from that the County Council seemed to have suddenly just plucked out of the air. He turned the pressure back uncomfortably on the WODC Planning Department and pressed them hard about whether they were doing everything possible to progress things. The Strategic Director said she had spoken to the Strategic Health Authority who had told her the question of a capital grant to sort out the "impairment" problem was under consideration. However Town Councillor John Grantham in the Public Gallery was holding in his hand the copy of a letter from the Strategic Health Authority to David Cameron saying that no capital grant was possible. Talk about left hand and right hand. "Treasury bureaucracy" came in for some bashing as did the irony that the government said it wanted partnership working but had financial rules that prevented it from happening. Barry Norton was magnificent as a Chairman who made it clear where his sympathies lay and was remarkably flexible in allowing councillors to come back with second and third bites at the cherry. You were left in no doubt that Barry was going to use every trick in the procedural book to carry on the fight.

But the fact is that the County Council (Social Services) led us (and the NHS) into this quagmire with an incredibly complex scheme - without having done the necessary homework or having done a proper business plan - trying to keep action groups quiet along the way with phoney consultations, half-baked and often misleading information. How is it conceivable that a department responsible for running multi-million pound projects with Private Health Care companies was not aware of basic VAT issues in public/private partnership projects It is simply not conceivable. It is ridiculous that the County Council - who are one of the main architects of the mess we are in - should be imposing deadlines. The scheme has now come unstuck and can only be put back together with a couple of big favours from central government. And why - can someone please explain - would anyone expect the Treasury or the Department of Health to each grant a big favour to a community hospital in D. Cameron's constituency It just ain't gonna happen folks. Its not the real political world. We are whistling in the wind.

Let David Cameron try a round table meeting. It will be a last try. But some of us are afraid that the only solution on offer will be that the whole scheme (including the hospital) should be Private and run by the Order of St John. That's when we should draw the line, dig our heels in and get back to basics - and remind ourselves that this whole thing is about keeping a real hospital and not saving the County Council's face.

What we will then need to do is to single-mindedly make the case for a new 14-bed hospital PLUS maternity beds PLUS a Minor Injuries Unit PLUS X-ray PLUS Consulting and Physiotherapy Rooms PLUS a room for minor operations PLUS a paramedic base PLUS two doctor's surgeries on the present hospital and ambulance station sites. The Hospital run and staffed by the NHS. The Building financed by WODC on land owned by the NHS. (Along the lines of Pershore - see below) If the League of Friends and the two surgeries could be persuaded to lead such a campaign I believe the town would be prepared to mount a huge fund-raising effort to help secure the best and latest equipment. A clear-headed plan like that with strong local leadership would free us from all the bureaucratic in-fighting and get some real momentum and backing. I'm absolutely sure of it!

These are the personal impressions and views of an extremely angry Town Councillor Alcock (to whom all writs should be addressed) and not of the Chipping Norton Hospital Action Group.


The complicated plan to get a Private Company to develop a new hospital and Care Home for Chippy and then lease the hospital part back to the NHS has run into all kinds of financing snags - which are so serious that the whole scheme is now in danger. Over a year ago the Hospital Action group proposed to the West Oxfordshire District Council that they should use a small part of their huge 60m cash reserves (the proceeds of the sale of council housing stock) to build the new Chippy Care Home and hospital and lease the buildings back to the NHS and the Order of St John. This would earn a better return than the measly interest being achieved on the District Council's capital in fixed interest gilts (under 2% in the last Fiancial Year). This plan was dismissed out of hand and we were told it was not possible. It is now clear this response was bunkum and the whole idea must now be looked at again. This could be the way through we are all looking for and is precisely the plan currently being proposed by Cherwell District Council for Bicester which is reported in today's Oxford Mail. If Cherwell can do it why can't West Oxfordshire

The leader of Cherwell District Council says he is happy to write a cheque to build Bicester a new hospital - if health officials want one. Campaigners have been pushing for a modern community hospital in the town for years and now Cherwell's leader Barry Wood is backing a scheme in which the council will pay for it. The authority would use money from its reserves to pay for the building and rent it to the Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust at a discounted rate. However, the council would be earning more than it would from interest if the money was left in the bank. Mr Wood's comments came after two of his fellow councillors visited Pershore in Worcestershire, where a similar project backed by Wychavon District Council opened its doors last month. He said: "From Cherwell's viewpoint we still think that a Wychavon-style solution has great merit. The key is whether the new Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust actually wants a hospital at all. The Wychavon thing is a marvellous idea and Cherwell would put its hand in its pocket to secure that for Bicester."


Below is the recently-opened Pershore Hospital which is a 6m joint venture between Wychavon District Council and the local PCT. The hospital is run and staffed by the NHS. There is no private health care company involved. Some people see this as a financial and organisational model worth studying for Chipping Norton if it proves impossible to sort out the VAT problems which have been created by trying to combine a Care Home and a Hospital. The pictures were taken by a Chippy resident deeply involved in the Hospital debate, who went to Pershore this week on a fact-finding mission. The population of Pershore is the same as that of Chippy.

Tory leader joins fight
to rescue hospital plan


TORY leader David Cameron is throwing his weight behind moves to save Chipping Norton's proposed new hospital and care home. Mr Cameron, who is the town's MP, will chair a meeting with all interested parties on February 16. It follows news from Revenue and Customs that the project is subject to VAT and will carry a huge tax bill.

The meeting will include representatives from Oxfordshire County Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, the strategic health authority, Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust, the Order of St John, which will be responsible for the care home, and Revenue and Customs. Mr Cameron said: "It's an opportunity for everyone to get around the table and thrash out the financial issues involved. It would be a tragedy if the new hospital, care home and GP surgery, which people have been working and hoping for over the past few years, was allowed to fall away."

Chipping Norton Town Council is holding an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the crisis. Mayor and council chairman Gina Burrows said: "The issue is of immense importance to the community and to us as elected representatives." Canon Stephen Weston, of St Mary's in Chipping Norton, who is chairman of the current hospital users' group, has made an impassioned appeal to Oxfordshire County Council to keep faith with the new hospital. The county council, a major funding partner in the project, has set a deadline of March 31 for the financial issues threatening the plan to be sorted out. There are fears that the VAT bill will render the whole project uneconomic. The plan for the combined hospital and care home is one of the first of its kind in the country. It comes as a result of the Government encouraging health authorities to work with outside partners on major projects. The decision thrashed out will be critical to future NHS plans.

(David has been involved in the Fight since the very beginning. He's pictured here two summers ago launching the campaign with members of the Hospital Action Group


The PCT told the Chipping Norton Healthcare Users Group and the Action Group on Friday 12th January that a possible way through has been found on the VAT problem which had been threatening to scupper the whole new hospital deal. But it comes at a big cost! Provided the Intermediate Care Beds are serviced and staffed by the Order of St John - who run the Care Home - and not by the NHS, then VAT can be reclaimed. Which solves the money problem. This means that the nurses who look after the Intermediate Care beds will not be NHS nurses. The NHS will be "buying in" the whole service on the "hospital" beds from the Order of St John - a Private Company. The NHS say their contract will specify service levels and ensure that standards are maintained. They will be the quality controllers. Maternity, Physiotherapy, Special Clinics etc will stay with NHS management and staff. So now the deal is clear....to make this whole thing work financially, all the residential parts of the operation (36 Care Home beds and 14 Hospital beds) will have to be handed over to a Private Company to run. Some people are very scared about that prospect. More than that two years ago, 11,000 people signed a petition demanding that the hospital nurses should be kept within the NHS.

The alternative would be to say that we should drop the whole idea of putting a Care Home together with a Hospital. The County Council would then "buy in" the 20 residential care beds it requires in local Private Nursing Homes. The NHS have told us that they would not close the present hospital. However it would soon become out of date and probably vulnerable. The town would need to work with the NHS to try and immediately develop a viable way of building a new 20-bed standalone hospital. There are several models for how this might be done. We would need the backing of the District who might be prepared to undertake the building of the hospital from their huge cash reserves (just as Cherwell are proposing to do in Bicester). The County Council would surely be prepared to see their 400,000 Chippy Fund devoted to a hospital. And every residential development in the town from now on (including the County's development of the Castleview site) would be required to make a substantial Section 106 contribution. The Hospital League of Friends will empty its coffers and chip in. On top of which we will have to mount the biggest fund-raising drive that the town has ever seen.

Is Chippy up for such a campaign or is everyone tired of the whole thing preferring to settle for what's on offer Time for everyone to declare.

Back in the days when Hilary supported the Petition to keep
hospital beds in the NHS. What does she think now


Canon Stephen Weston (left) - Vicar of Chipping Norton, Rural Dean and Chairman of the Healthcare User Group (CHUG) - made a forceful presentation to the assembled Oxfordshire County Council this morning. The imposition of a deadline on the attempts to find solutions to the VAT and Impairment problems which have arisen over the new Chippy Hospital was not helpful and the Vicar asked for the deadline to be removed. The stance of the Cabinet was jeopardising the whole scheme. He told them that if the Hospital did not materialise this would be regarded as a "betrayal" by the people of the town. He said "I wouldn't want to live with that decision if I was you". (You almost expected a thunderbolt to come crashing through the ornate ceiling as he made that point!) He expressed the frustration which the action groups had felt over several years. They had been kept in the dark, then told there was a VAT problem and then told there wasn't. Now there seemed to be an idea that it would be OK simply to close Castleview. Let the County be warned. That option had never gone to consultation and if it was tried then the legality of the move would be strongly challenged. He was heard in total silence and with obvious respect. You could tell his words were having a profound effect. This became clear later when the Cabinet were simply "reporting" their decision that they had imposed a deadline on the discussions. This had been an "executive" decision and they were not looking for approval or comments or speeches. Only simple questions were invited. This is not what they got. What followed was a torrent of criticism, suggestions, advice and calls for action - from all sides and all parties. First Hilary started "handbagging" the cabinet in an onslaught that demanded they should withdraw their deadline. After several minutes of this the Chairman reminded her there should be a question. Hilary continued unabashed until the whole Chamber was chanting "Question Question". Mr Jim Couchman from Burford replied for the Cabinet. What was all this about a deadline The Cabinet desperately wanted this project to go forward. If there was the slightest movement on the problem issues before March 31st then of course the Cabinet would be the first to reconsider its position. Mr Couchman was telling porkies. This is not what his resolution said at all. Into the fray then jumped the redoubtable Councillor Barbara Gatehouse (Labour Leys and Lye) true friend of Chipping Norton. She reminded the council that she had seconded Councillor Seale's resolution several years previously first proposing this hospital and care home plan for Chipping Norton. It would be a tragedy if the scheme was lost. She was still committed to it and she wanted to know WHY the Cabinet had imposed a deadline. Why was a deadline necessary It was the key question. And more than that she wanted Councillor Seale to answer her. Although Councillor Seale has apparently moved on to other responsibilities he nonetheless bravely rose to the challenge. Councillor Couchman was taking cover. For two reasons - said Councillor Seale. First Castleview really was getting way too old and unfit for purpose. It was becoming very expensive to run and would soon be contravening too many legal requirements. Secondly, the Cabinet wanted to bring some pressure to bear and make it clear to the PCT just what was at stake. Councillor Gatehouse hadn't finished. As for this VAT business were the cabinet quite sure that it was not a simple question of just building another kitchen so the hospital made its own meals. That had been the solution in another case. She never got an answer which is a shame because she is absolutely right. That could be an answer to the whole VAT problem and the Cabinet and Social Services seem to be deliberately ignoring it. Councillor Skolar of Henley said it was all the PCT's problem. Another councillor suggested that the best way of bringing some pressure was for the County to appeal the VAT decision itself - direct to the Commissioners. Councillor Couchman retreated even further under the table at this thought. It could take years - he said. This is an innovative scheme, the first of its kind, a role model, leading edge, a model for countless other councils... the accolades went on and on. So why not remove the deadline Let David Cameron try and find a solution in his round table meeting. Everyone was piling in now - Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Councillor Val Smith, the marvellous Councillor Harris from Didcot, Councillor Roaf. Remove the deadline! Hilary tried to talk again but the gags were out. The revolution was being stifled. The unfortunate Councillor Couchman was wheeled back yet again. We are trying to leave the door ajar. We will be delighted if there is some movement forward. If there is any sign of progress we will of course suspend the deadline. Nobody wants this scheme to succeed more than us. And here's the evidence. We have already amended our resolution and changed the words. It no longer reads "will withdraw". That has been changed to "intends to withdraw" which just goes to show our extreme flexibility. Guffaws all round. This guy is having a laugh! He and the Cabinet had been systematically duffed up by the meeting and in practice the "deadline" had been discreetly shuffled on to the back burner. Throughout the onslaught there had not been a squeak of support out of the normally combative Leader Keith Mitchell. He had left his cabinet colleagues to face the music. As the Labour leader commented to one of the Chippy delegation. "This was a blatant attempt at a fix by the Cabinet". Well it didn't work! It had been a badly-judged mistake. Quite restores your faith in local democracy. Thanks to the independent-minded councillors who weren't going to be railroaded by the big bad ogres in the cabinet. Lets just hope that not too many political careers were harmed in the process. But thanks most of all to Stephen Weston who played a blinder. We can all be proud of him as a genuinely impartial and non-political spokesman for the citizens of this town.

Uncertainty prompts public meeting

TUESDAY JANUARY 16: The uncertainty surrounding the future of a new health facility in Chipping Norton has prompted councillors to call an unscheduled meeting. At a meeting of the town council last night, Cllr Keith Greenwell asked to discuss the problems surrounding the threat to the health care building, which would provide both hospital and care home facilities. Mayor Gina Burrows agreed a meeting should be held to discuss the situation, which has been scheduled for 7.30pm on Monday in the town hall. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and hear the town's views on the current situation.


Main Speakers on Monday were Canon Stephen Weston, "Chunky" Townley and Clive Hill

About 40 members of the public turned up last night (Monday 22nd January) to a special meeting of the Town Council convened by the Mayor Gina Burrows to discuss the latest hospital situation. Quite a cross section it was too..members of the action groups, the League of Friends, a delegation from the local Conservative party, journalists, spies from the PCT, nurses from the hospital and many other concerned residents. There is no doubt that interest in the hospital development is still very strong and committed. All these people were there because they cared. The meeting began with presentations from Chunky Townley (Chairman of the Hospital Action Group), Stephen Weston (Chairman of Chipping Norton Health Care User Group) and Clive Hill (Secretary of the Hospital Action Group). Over the last few years these three gentlemen have performed tirelessly in front of all kinds of committees and public meetings. They are well-informed, sincere and persuasive. The Council and the public were knocked out by them. We are incredibly lucky to have advocates like this fighting for the hospital. The Vicar has god on his side which helps but Chunky and Clive have a special passion which comes from being born in the War Memorial Hospital and having their own kids born there. All three men feel a very personal responsibility to maintain the vital role of the hospital in the towns life. The message was the same from Chunky, Steve and Clive. After the frustrations of dealing with a succession of PCT Chief Executives in the last three years (we are now on to the fourth), of surviving a whole series of broken promises, of overcoming so many hurdles - we were now on the last stretch. A stupid bureaucratic snag about VAT remains which means that the hospital beds cannot be staffed by NHS nurses. The government have said they want partnerships. The NHS have told us that seconding nurses to the Order of St John is their preferred solution but this is being prevented from happening by daft rules. The Care Home is exempt from VAT. The Hospital is exempt from VAT. But put the two together and plan for one to supply meals to the other and you run up a VAT bill on the building costs alone of 500,000 and then theres a continuing charge on services. Its bonkers. The town has made it clear that it wants the hospital beds to remain in the NHS. They believe it to be the only way that the loyalty of the present staff will be retained and the highest care standards will be delivered. The Action Groups are still fighting to try and ensure this happens. Nobody is giving in yet! David Cameron has convened a round table meeting for February 16th to see if a way through can be found. The speakers pleaded with everybody in the town to keep up the pressure, write letters, use all possible contacts. Edwyn Stobart (Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Association) also addressed the Council and wanted somebody to explain to him why the hospital and the Care Home had been put together in the first place. It was this which had created all the problems. Every councillor without exception spoke in full support of the CHUG/HAG position. Pat Lake led the charge to the barricades and demanded a really tough letter from the Town Council to the VAT people telling them in no uncertain terms how we feel about their daft interpretation of the regulations. Jo Graves (Chair of the League of Friends) urged everyone to stay the course. Rob Evans was using his personal contacts in government to try and bring pressure. Keith Greenwell still wanted to explore other options if the VAT issue could not be solved but for the time being he agreed we should all continue to press for a solution. John Grantham read some quotes from a Royal College of Physicians report which pointed out how intermediate care beds were being manipulated across the country for political purposes. Gerry Alcock reminded the council how much cash the OCC would be pocketing so perhaps they could be a bit more flexible about the prices they will pay OSJ for beds in the Care Home. Eve Coles highlighted the anxieties of staff in Castleview and the hospital while all the uncertainty continues. Eventually Martin Jarrett urging the strongest possible backing for the CHUG and HAG proposed a resolution which was seconded by Mike Dixon. It was passed unanimously

"This Council acknowledges and is grateful for all the hard work which has gone into developing proposals for a new care Home and Hospital facility in Chipping Norton -by members of the original Stakeholders Group, by members and officers of OCC andWODC , by the directors and employees ofthree differentPCT s and the OSJ, by members of theHospital Action Group and Healthcare Users Group and not least by our MP.

The Council is appreciative and highly supportive of the proposals currently being discussed. However,the Council is also mindful of the strongly expressed wish by the community to keep intermediate care beds within the NHS and understandshow interpretations of VAT regulations have so far prevented the scheme fromachieving this "ideal" outcome. The Council urges all parties to make one further urgent effort to see if any way can be found to allow hospital beds to remain within the NHS"

'Immoral' threat
to new hospital

TUESDAY JANUARY 23: A VICAR says a VAT bill affecting the future of Chipping Norton Hospital is "immoral". The Rev Canon Stephen Weston, of Chipping Norton, was speaking at crisis talks called by Chipping Norton Town Council last night. Residents, councillors and Hospital Action Group (HAG) members attended the meeting, worried complications with tax rules could see plans for a combined hospital and care home in London Road abandoned. The NHS and Order of St John (OSJ) will be charged a huge VAT bill for operating care and NHS services alongside each other, unless NHS nurses are moved under employment of the OSJ. But residents are worried about the implications of this change. Speaking at the meeting Mr Weston, chairman of the town's Healthcare Users Group (HUG), said residents should push for staff to be kept in the NHS. "At the moment it is the VAT issue stopping the show and it is immoral that two charitable, non VAT paying bodies have to pay VAT when they get together," he said. Town councillors voted unanimously to demand the issue be resolved urgently by all those involved, without moving nurses to the OSJ.

Friday 16th February is
for new hospital


INTENSE pressure to save plans for a new hospital, care home and GP surgery in Chipping Norton reaches a critical point this week. Conservative leader and local MP David Cameron will sit down with key parties in a bid to thrash out a solution to the funding crisis threatening the project.

Mr Cameron will chair a meeting at West Oxfordshire District Council's base in Witney involving the health authority, local councils and representatives from Revenue and Customs. It is an attempt by the latter to levy VAT on the project costs that threatens to scupper it. The meeting will also include representatives from the Order of St John, which will be responsible for the care home, Chipping Norton Town Council and Canon Stephen Weston, who chairs the local healthcare users' group. Mr Cameron said: "It would be a tragedy if the scheme, which people have been working and hoping for over the past few years, was allowed to fall away."

Oxfordshire County Council, a major funding partner in the project, has set a deadline of March 31 for the financial issues threatening the plan to be sorted out. Opponents of the move to slap VAT on the project argue it will render the whole scheme uneconomic. The plan for the combined hospital and care home is one of the first of its kind in the country and comes as a result of the Government encouraging health authorities to work with outside partners on major projects. As such, any decision thrashed out at the meeting will be critical to future NHS plans. Under current tax rules, it may prove impossible to keep the hospital staff and beds within the NHS.

Chipping Norton's Labour-controlled town council has enlisted the help of Labour Party chairman Hazel Blears to use her influence in sorting out the Treasury tangle. The town council held an emergency meeting to discuss the hospital crisis and issued a resolution urging all parties to make one final effort to see if any way could be found to allow the hospital beds to remain within the NHS.