First Minister, you’ve got mail - from Lanark

Protesters outside Lockhart Hospital in Lanark which is threatened with closure. Picture Sarah Peters.
Protesters outside Lockhart Hospital in Lanark which is threatened with closure. Picture Sarah Peters.

When First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gets back to her desk after her party conference there will be two messages waiting for her, BOTH from Lanark.

Her mailbag will be bulging with 700 additional ‘Postcards from Bonnington’, adding to more than 4,000 she has already received from those opposed to Cemex quarrying in the much-loved beauty spot between Lanark and New Lanark.

What space is left in the bag will be taken up by a petition, signed by 2567 people who have been inspired by the long semi-mothballing of Lanark’s Lockhart Hospital to call on the Scottish Goverment to protect all cottage hospitals and old folks homes from closure.

The postcard campaign, to also persuade the government to protect Bonnington and the conservation ‘Buffer Zone’ around New Lanark’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the third such mounted against Cemex’s plan to expand its adjoining Hyndford Quarry.

The company is making repeated attempts to gain planning permission despite knock-backs from South Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish Government.

In the meantime the local hospital campaigners have now submitted their petition to the government.

One of their organisers. Ed Archer explained: “This petition is not just about the Lockhart Hospital and Lanark’s threatened McClymont House residential facility for the elderly but what is happening all over Scotland.

“In this, the people of Clydesdale were the trailblazers as 2567 signed a petition to express their concerns and that was in the space of just aa month.

“The overall impression that I have gained from the campaign so far is that people think that both community hospitals and care homes have a vital part to play in Community Care and not everybody can be looked after in their own home.”

Although the Lockhart Hospital has been earmarked for re-opening as a nurse-led facility, campaigners still want it returned to full cottage hospital status with the same kind of GP cover it enjoyed when Lanarkshire NHS closed it to new admissions and distributed the existing patients elsewhere in May, 2016.

There is now a growing frustration among the campaigners at the apparent lack of speed in getting ‘The Lockhart’ back into full use for the benefit of Clydesdale’s population,