Herts Ad comment: Service cuts and rates hikes

Herts Ad comment...

Herts Ad comment... - Credit: Archant

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Having spent numerous occasions whiling away the afternoon or evening (or both!) in the sanctuary of one of the district’s many hostelries, the cause of the Save St Albans Pubs campaign is one which stirs a particular degree of personal indignation.

It’s not just about supping on a decent pint or tucking into some choice pub fare, our drinking establishments are community hubs which provide an arguably irreplaceable role within their neighbourhoods.

Not only do they provide a meeting point to bring local residents together, but they also contribute to the economic well-being of a community. After all, boarded-up pubs will do nothing to help property prices or attract new businesses into an area.

But if business rate rises of an average 72 per cent are introduced for many pubs later this year, that vision could become a familiar sight around our beloved city.

So many of the city’s pubs have already disappeared in recent years that the thought of losing more is just inconceivable, but as many as half those remaining could close within the next five years, according to predictions.

This newspaper is firmly backing the efforts of the Save St Albans Pubs campaign, and we urge our readers to sign their parliamentary petition to help prevent these unpalatable rates rises from becoming a reality - for further details see here and sign today.

Meanwhile, further cuts in local healthcare provision have been announced this week, with the unexpected closure of community hospital beds in two wards at St Albans City Hospital.

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With its budget slashed by Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, the Herts Community NHS Trust (HCT) claims it has no options but to look at drastic ways of reducing expenditure.

Of course, as is becoming increasingly familiar in cases like this, it is our elderly and most vulnerable residents who are the victims in this latest round of service cuts.

They are the patients prone to falls, suffering from dementia, or in need of that personal treatment which will be otherwise denied them.

But when they are kicked out of their hospital beds at the earliest opportunity and sent home to cope the best they can, all they can expect is limited support from healthcare visitors whose time and resources will no doubt be stretched to breaking point.

No matter what we are told by the HCT’s chief executive, it is impossible to believe that any home support will be comparable to what was previously available in hospital.

And nobody can say that this latest round of cuts is the end of the story, or just the beginning.

Ironically, for many elderly people, lonely and isolated in their homes, company and community support could often be found in the most unexpected of places, such as their local pub.

With budget cuts slashing health services on one side, and harsh demands for increased rates from the other, this government seems to be tightening the screws from every direction.