Horton campaigners’ fury over public meeting location

Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG, is arguing the meeting should be held at a venue in Banbury.
Keith Strangwood, chairman of KTHG, is arguing the meeting should be held at a venue in Banbury.

Campaigners fighting to have emergency surgery restored at Banbury’s Horton General Hospital have slammed officials who have organised a crucial public meeting at a golf club six miles from Banbury.

Members of the Keep the Horton General Campaign (KTHG) are furious at the decision to hold the February 5 meeting at Rye Hill Golf Club, Milcombe, when what they believe to be other more suitable venues – including Banbury Town Hall – remain available.

“I am absolutely fuming,” said KTHG chairman Keith Strangwood. “Rye Hill is an unbelievable choice of location to hold a consultation with the Banbury public.

“It’s a joke. They appear to be having a laugh at the expense of the Banbury public and show unwarranted disregard for the 180,000 Horton users in the catchment.

“They say Rye Hill is the only venue large enough, but the Town Hall holds just as many.”

KTHG has been fighting for a year to have surgery – halted after two surgeons were removed on disputed disciplinary charges – reinstated.

They say they have received constant complaints from patients who have undergone disruptive transfers to the John Radcliffe, Oxford for assessment and surgery for emergency conditions.

The Oxfordshire University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), which organises and pays for health services, is expected to use the meeting to outline plans to relocate more day surgery and outpatient services to the Horton.

OUHT spokesman Richard Maynard said: “We wanted a centrally located, large venue.

“Unfortunately the three largest venues were unavailable. The largest is the Town Hall with a maximum seated number of 150, plus 20 standing versus the golf club’s 180, plus 20 standing.

“We specifically asked people to register so we could more accurately calculate how many people were likely to attend and therefore we would be able to purposely book the venue with sufficient capacity.

“This proved to be the golf club at Rye Hill.”

A free coach has been arranged to take people to and from Milcombe, leaving Banbury Cross at 5.30pm and returning at 8.30pm.

Banbury Town Hall confirmed with the Banbury Guardian yesterday (Wednesday) that the venue was provisionally booked for the meeting, but later cancelled.

It also confirmed the venue has a total capacity of around 220, including 170 seats.