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New health centre serving 23,000 patients in Walsall sparks row over preferred site

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A health centre that would serve 23,000 patients is set to be built in Walsall.

The borough's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has revealed that the idea of a new health centre is 'being explored' by GP practices.

The CCG's preferred site for the centre is the old Jabez Cliff factory on Lower Forster Street in the town, which has sparked outrage.

Protesters, who have set up a petition, say the site is 'inaccessible' via public transport.

They claim that accessing it by car is also 'impossible' because of the large volume of traffic, one way system and its location on a ring road next to a school.

The protest group, which includes Conservative councillor Rose Martin, wants the health centre built at the Broadway North Centre on Broadway North instead – another site currently under consideration by the CCG.

Councillor Martin said: "People do not want to go to Jabez Cliff.

"We want a health centre that is centrally located in the heart of the community, which can serve St Matthew's, Paddock and Orchard Hills."

Councillor Gurmeet Sohal is also against the Jabez Cliff site being used as the location for the new centre.

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He said: "Jabez Cliff is not in the Paddock ward and it is not in the heart of the community.

"People in Paddock are really, really fed up with not having anything in Paddock.

"All the other wards have something but Paddock pays the highest council tax and doesn't even have a health centre."

The petition was signed by 400 people in just one day when it became active on Friday.

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Walsall's CCG, which represents GPs in the borough, said a site for the potential new centre had not yet been confirmed and that a consultation process would take place.

Simon Brake, chief officer for the CCG, said: "A new health centre in this area of Walsall is being explored by the GP practices concerned, but the site of that health centre is yet to be confirmed.

"A consultation process will be undertaken and patients will be involved in that process.

"Any proposal will also be subject to Walsall Council's planning approval."

Jabez Cliff was a historic saddlemakers, but the business went into administration back in 2014.

The firm had left its Lower Forster Street premises in 2009 and two years later the building was wrecked in a severe fire and demolished.

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