Landlords enter health farm row

A WAR of words has today broken out between farm-buying health bosses and their landlords.

A WAR of words has today broken out between farm-buying health bosses and their landlords.

NHS Suffolk has faced huge criticism for shelling out �475,000 on farmland to create more parking spaces opposite its plush riverside headquarters in Bramford.

When the trust first leased out-of-town Rushbrook House nearly three years ago it was warned parking would be a problem because there was no public transport, and since then it has more than doubled its workforce, from 80 to 190 employees.

But NHS Suffolk said another reason for the problem was also that its landlord - Braceforce - had reneged on a deal to provide more parking spaces, a claim the company has denied.

Braceforce owns Rushbrook House which is jointly leased by NHS Suffolk and private residential tenants who have been allocated specific parking slots in the building's car park.

Martin Royal, director of external relations and business development at NHS Suffolk, said: “When NHS Suffolk took occupancy of the building Braceforce agreed to provide additional parking once the private residences adjoined to the headquarters were occupied.

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“They purchased land to accommodate this requirement, which was specified at the time the lease was signed.

“However, in the event, this was not forthcoming, so NHS Suffolk had no choice than to seek alternative local options.”

However Braceforce, a Great Blakenham-based property company, said it had offered NHS Suffolk other options, including an extension to its existing car park.

Quinton Hembry, a company director, said: “I can't be bothered to get involved with tittle-tattle. They've gone on and done something which is entirely up to them.

“We haven't reneged on any part of our deal. Quite clearly they miscalculated. When you decide to put somewhere between 200 and 300 per cent more staff in an office you are bringing problems on yourself.

“That is an issue of their own making - nothing to do with Braceforce. There was a solution offered to them which they rejected.”

Should parking be a priority for NHS bodies? 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.

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