Community trust issues rallying cry for people’s buyout of treasured hospital

Nathanael Williams

Members of the Sick Kids community buyout group to hold public meeting to take hospital into community’s hands

AN EDINBURGH AND LOTHIANS community group is planning to obtain the right to buy a local hospital and healthcare centre that has come up for sale.

The Sick Kids hospital in Marchmont and Sciennes could be purchased through the Scottish Government’s community right to buy scheme which grants locals the right to buy out land and property.

At the meeting scheduled for Tuesday 21 February, at 7pm German Church, 1 Chalmers Crescent, the development trust will call on locals to sign a petition, ask questions and give support for the coming bid.

Event: Sick Kids Community Buyout, Public Meeting 21 February 7PM

A spokesperson for the Marchmont & Sciennes Development Trust (MSDT), the group set up to put forward the community bid, said: “As you are probably aware, a precious symbol of the community’s treasured heritage of healthcare provision – the Sick Kids Hospital – is up for sale. The hospital, located in the heart of Marchmont and Sciennes, is held dearly in the hearts and memories of many families across the city and the Lothians.

“As part of a radical democratic vision, the Scottish Government offers substantial help with this process, guiding groups that wish to use the legislative tool of Community RIght to Buy to address specific community needs.

“This amendment by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 is designed to address the broader vision of the Government to help people take control of their economic lives and safeguard the future of their communities.”

Rather than risk the hospital site falling into the hands of private developers and being left vacant, the MSDT want the site to be one that provides quality affordable housing alongside healthcare provision.

There are also plans for community businesses and a local enterprise group to formed.

Since April of last year, the Community Right to Buy (CRtB) has allowed communities across Scotland to register interest in land in urban and rural sites. Those groups who successfully register a community interest in land have the first rights to buy when the land is offered up for sale.

The first successful registration of community interest in an urban site in Scotland was achieved by Action Porty last year, who are now preparing their bid to own and run Portobello Old Parish Church.

However, the hospital and its adjoining buildings could be sold by NHS Lothian to private developers such as Rob McDowell, the owner of Edinburgh’s Summerhall arts venue.

When the trust registers their public interest in the land it will remain for a period of five years during which Scottish minister have 63 days to accept or reject the validity of the community interest. From this point, the owner of the site has 21 days to overlook the buyout claim by the community and make it comments.

Picture courtesy of MSDT

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