Fury mounts over health farm

ANGER is continuing to grow today over Suffolk health bosses' �500,000 farmland spending spree.

ANGER is continuing to grow today over Suffolk health bosses' �500,000 farmland spending spree.

The Evening Star revealed on Monday how NHS Suffolk had splashed out the cash to buy land which it plans to convert into staff car parking spaces.

Managers said there were not enough spaces at its plush out-of-town headquarters in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford, despite promising when it leased the riverside site three years ago that parking would not be a problem.

The decision, taken in secret and not put before the trust's board, has sparked outrage from politicians and health campaigners.

Meanwhile Star readers are also making their voices heard online.

Arthur Scrivener said: “Surely there is a part of the NHS that can control NHS Suffolk. How dare they spend our taxpayers' money secretly! And that is after they were advised not to buy an out-of-town site in the first place.”

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Chris Ward said simply: “The waste of taxpayers' money goes on.”

And Derek Hayward added: “This was supposed to be the environmentally friendly office where the employees would cycle to work.

“That was the justification given when they built this office. Make the staff get their bikes out, including the bosses.

“As others have said this sum of money would go a long way to providing the improved heart treatment facilities at Ipswich.”

However some readers have defended the controversial decision.

Penny Watch said: “It seems they bought this as an investment which doesn't seem a bad idea, so I don't think this is a problem.”

- Should NHS Suffolk have bought farmland for �475,000? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The farmland controversy

- NHS Suffolk has sparked outrage by splashing out �475,000 on farmland opposite its Bramford headquarters.

- The decision was taken in secret by the chairman and finance director and did not go to a public board meeting.

- The trust, which buys and plans healthcare in the county, wants to convert the 2.5 hectare space into car parking, and possibly transform a dilapidated farmhouse into staff facilities.

- The extra parking spaces are needed partly because NHS Suffolk's staffing numbers have more than doubled from 80 employees in 2006 to 190 today.

- The trust was warned in 2006 not to buy an out-of-town site with no access to public transport and little parking - but it pushed ahead regardless.

- Creating the new car parking spaces will cost an extra �50,000 on top of the initial investment.