Opinion: ‘NHS musn’t be overwhelmed again’

Hamish McAuley of Loughborough, Charnwood and Melton Liberal Democrats, writes..

Friday, 17th December 2021, 1:17 pm
Updated Friday, 17th December 2021, 1:17 pm
Hamish McAuley of Loughborough, Charnwood and Melton Liberal Democrats

The news that funding for the Southern Link to complete the Melton bypass has been approved will, I am sure, be welcomed by many in the town and county, as indeed it is by local Liberal Democrats. The half complete route that was otherwise to be constructed would have been nothing but a subsidy to house builders and would have done little to relieve traffic in the town. The complete route will undoubtedly reduce heavy goods traffic through Melton town centre and consequently improve the air quality and local environment for residents and visitors alike. The scheme, by its design, will result in the construction of thousands of new homes and it is imperative that local services are suitably expanded to cater for both the current and future population. Healthcare provision, schools and sports facilities all require years of planning and construction and no one will be happy if these are left as an afterthought once the developers have moved on. The impact of the temporary closure of the main pool at the Waterfield Leisure Centre over the past weeks alongside the permanent closure of the Catmose swimming pool in Oakham highlights the limited provisions within the area.

While local sports facilities are used by all ages, it is our children who are no doubt suffering the greatest burden of these closures. The disproportionate impact of Covid restrictions on children and young people has been widely reported and we owe it to those children to provide the opportunities to catch up on missed experiences and skills as soon as possible.

For Melton Liberal Democrats the New Year brings with it a realignment of our local party. Having been grouped with Rutland for many years we have chosen to regroup with those members in Loughborough and Charnwood. This, we feel, more closely reflects the social and economic ties of Melton with Leicester and Leicestershire and, if proposed parliamentary boundary changes are adopted, will align us with the new constituency. Although it has been sad to part ways with many friends in Rutland, we hope that the new local party will bring renewed energy to liberalism in Melton where the domination by a single party has stifled ideas, led to complacency amongst our elected leaders and failed to deliver for our communities.

As we approach Christmas we will all be devastated by the reintroduction of Covid restrictions and the prospect of rising cases, however, I would implore everyone to take heed of the government’s advice and offers of vaccination. Though the whole world is tired of Covid it will not be wished away and proportional measures may again be needed to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed in the New Year. I hope that we can all find ways to celebrate and enjoy the festive season safely.