Calling all Volunteers and Supporters: Lobby your MS for their support!

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Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to secure signatures supporting our petition for an independent inquiry into the choice of site for the new Velindre Cancer Centre. Our petition will now be debated in the Senedd on the 3rd of March!

We are now asking you to email your MS’s and ask for their support for our petition! If you don’t know your MS’s email address you can find it here.

Please contact your MS’s, and ask them to support the campaign for an independent inquiry into the site and to protect the Northern Meadows (and other green spaces!) from development.

We have outlined some ideas for what you could mention in support of our petition below:

Save the Northern Meadows goals are to ensure cancer care is future-proofed for all, that the Government doesn’t waste valuable public money on unnecessarily extravagant projects, and that the meadows and railway cutting are permanently preserved for future generations.

Emails have already been sent by us and clinicians about serious issues surrounding Velindre, the medical model chosen, the funding model, and the environmental implications of building on the site. The following highlights key points raised in those letters.

  • Over 1,000 objections were submitted to four planning applications which were granted without covering community concerns;
  • Over 100 parents at Coryton Primary expressed concerns over their children’s health if the development goes ahead;
  • 12,000 + people signed a petition asking the Government to stop the destruction;
  • 5,241 people called for an independent inquiry into the medical model and choice of site;
  • Hundreds of people protested in Whitchurch on at least four occasions;
  • And we joined over 1,000 people across Cardiff to call for JUSTICE NOW: environmental, racial, economic, and social justice in Wales in September 2020.

All of the following information has been obtained via FOI and relate to misrepresentations made by Velindre:

  • The Non existent Barrett Report.
  • Misrepresentation of the number of patients transferred urgently for escalation of care.
  • Misrepresentation of the role of EMRTS (Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service).
  • Falsely stating EMRTS had attended a patient who sadly died.
  • Misrepresenting the time taken for ambulance transfer for escalation of care.
  • Misrepresentation/Suppression of the Level of concern within Velindre NHS trust, as witnessed by the need for the BMA to intervene to support doctors.
  • Failure to fully and meaningfully engage stakeholder Health Boards in the planning process.
  • A recent letter signed by 163 Senior clinicians, expressing concern at the current plans for a stand alone new Velindre Cancer Centre.

We can also draw these conclusions from the Nuffield Trust Advice:

  • Co-Location at UHW (University Hospital Wales) is the gold standard especially for safety (This is clearly described in Appendix One of the Document).
  • The Transforming Cancer Services (TCS) Programme has been insular and as such has failed to properly engage key stakeholders.
  • Recent proposals by TCS appear to be reactive to circumstances rather than proactive.
    6 years and £20 Million have not provided a blueprint to transform cancer services. The plan is simply to replicate current services.
  • Failure to co-locate threatens patient safety, research, teaching programmes.
  • The redevelopment of Velindre Cancer Centre at UHW is a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform cancer services for the whole of South East Wales, yet this opportunity may be missed through inflexibility, inaction or partiality.
  • Transforming Cancer Services should never have been the responsibility of a single organisation that delivers only part of the pathway. The whole regional network, transparent, accountable and well led, is the key to excellence.

There are also significant issues with the way the project will be funded:

  • The Welsh Government will fund the cost of enabling works with a grant of at least £26.9 million. This amount was reached by applicants before contracting developers, and would cause a significant amount of devastation in the railway cutting, as it would pay for the cost of building two bridges two the meadows through the local nature reserve.
  • Further, the rest of the project will be funded by the widely discredited Mutual Investment Model (MIM). This means our cancer care will be the first hospital in wales funded through a public-private finance initiative, largely reflecting the disaster of the Public Finance Initiative (PFI).
  • The National Assembly for Wales finance committee enquiry reported that ‘Whilst MIM is an improvement in terms of community benefits and oversight of projects, it is hard to establish a significant difference between the two models, specifically as to how MIM offers greater value for money than previous PFI models’ (2019:5).
  • The maintenance of the site and building will be managed by a private company using non-NHS workers until 2050. But the Nuffield Advice clearly states the project only has short term viability of 10-15 years as a much smaller unit than initially envisioned. How is this a sustainable use of public money?
  • More information about MIM and Velindre is available here.

Furthermore, the environmental implications of building on the meadows are clear:

  • The construction will result in the total destruction of an Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC), an area of Local Nature Reserve (LNR), impact directly upon the border of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI);
  • Increase the risk of flooding: The development envisages the discharge of surface water into the Glamorganshire Canal and adjoining Melingriffith Feeder. Both these watercourses have flooded in recent months, and caused the flooding of housing around Forest Farm Road in February 2020;
  • Contribute to dangerous levels of air pollution: In November, 101 parents from Coryton Primary School signed a letter opposing the development because of the real threat increasing air pollution has on children who will be surrounded by cars and heavy vehicles on all sides of the school;
  • Harm protected species: Evidence from the developers suggest dormice, badgers, grassnakes, slowworms, bats, red and amber listed breeding birds, and hedgehogs nest on, or hunt on the site;
  • Result in the felling of hundreds, if not thousands of mature or semi-mature trees. This is farcical considering the climate emergency:
  • Housing will also be built following the construction of the hospital, with only 20% affordable provision in a plan proposed by TCS, Cardiff Council, and notably Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (application 20/00357/MJR). This opens up Whitchurch and North Cardiff to even more polluting developments, when considering the breadth of development occurring from Plasdwr to Lisvane.
  • The significance of Carbon Capture: The Northern Meadows has significant potential as an urban carbon sink, with a self seeding forest growing on the meadows and within the railway cutting. Furthermore, Longwood is a semi-ancient forest – hence its categorisation as an SSSI – and must be enhanced to ensure its resilience. Allowing the forest to take the meadows naturally would contribute to the goals of enhancing and maintaining biodiveristy;
  • The loss of a significant community amenity during a pandemic will be criminal. At present only 8% of Cardiff is publicly accessible green space, compared to 15% in cities like Birmingham.

Environmental Law is clear, the meadows and other green spaces must be protected:

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), Articles 8, 9, 10.
  • The Rio Declaration (1992), Principles 1, 4, 11, 15.
  • The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act (2015), Section 2, 4, 5(1).
  • The Environment (Wales) Act (2016) Section 3 and 6.
  • The Nature Recovery Action Plan 2020-21 states (section 6) there is a requirement for urgent, short-term actions which align the responses to the climate emergency with the biodiversity emergency, state resilient biodiversity is needed everywhere, including the creation of core resilience areas, and that the network of protected sites in Wales should be improved.

As such why is the Welsh Government choosing to undermine its own legislation for the protection, maintenance, enhancement, and resilience of biodiversity?

In addition, we have a number of important questions for the Welsh Government Ministers:

  • Why has Lesley Griffiths MS never once responded to the campaigns questions regarding the environment after five attempts to contact her?
  • Why has the community – including Save the Northern Meadows, but also the Hollybush Estate Residents Association, and Partnerships and Communities Together Whitchurch and Tongwynlais – been repeatedly and systematically undermined, ignored, and misrepresented by TCS, Velindre, and Labour MS’s?
  • Why have we been removed from the engagement process, despite the assertions there would be a community engagement officer?
  • Why is the project still being considered regardless of the scandalous choice of medical model, the environmentally destructive form, and the bullying character of those in charge?

Please feel free to choose from any of the arguments and information above, add your own information, personal experience, and send to MS’s!

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