Here’s the letter we have sent to the UBHT Director of Estates (Bob.Pepper@ubht.nhs.uk):
My colleagues and I on the KCG committee are having some difficulty understanding the Trust’s position on the hoardings. We recognise that on some other issues there has been a welcome attempt to keep Kingsdown residents better informed, but your statement that the hoardings were erected “to minimise health and safety risks” feels like a return to the bad old days of UBHT ignoring local concerns and only providing minimal information even when pressed, in the apparent hope that we will just get tired and give up.
‘Health and safety’ often serves as a convenient coverall for whatever arrangements large organisations or public bodies want to impose on the public. You do not give us even a clue as to what the risks might be, or who has advised that these ugly hoardings are the only possible protection against them. As you know, the small area of greenery has been without any hoardings for many years, and you do not say what, if anything, has suddenly changed.
Despite two reminders, you still haven’t answered what we feel is a perfectly reasonable question about how long you intend to leave these eyesores in place (though earlier correspondence about sites for disposal suggests you might be planning to leave them for at least a year or two).
As you know, KCG exists to conserve and enhance the Kingsdown area, and we feel that in this case the Trust’s action directly counteracts and undermines what we are trying to do on behalf of all residents. We know you will be aware of the widespread local antipathy to, and cynicism about, the Trust’s past behaviour towards its near neighbours. We felt that until recently you had been working with us on the inevitably long-term task of building up a more positive atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. We hope we can quickly return to this
Just to be completely clear, we want to see the hoardings removed as soon as possible. As we do not know what ‘health and safety risk’ they are meant to protect us against, we cannot judge whether there is a case for erecting some visually less prison-like alternative, but in any event we intend to pursue this matter.
We would be very grateful for a reply by Monday 5th October, as the item is on the agenda for the Committee meeting on Tuesday 6th, after which we want to inform residents, through our website, email circulation and noticeboard, of progress (or otherwise).