Gore mayor pulls out of campaign against hospital cuts

Ben Bell
Ben Bell
Gore Mayor Ben Bell says he is still against the planned cuts to the new Dunedin hospital but will not take an active part in the campaign.

Mr Bell said it was more of a Dunedin issue and regional input would only distract from that.

Southern mayors had come together to form a group last month to protest a $90 million cut from the cost of building the new Dunedin hospital.

The cuts have been widely criticised by medical clinicians.

Mr Bell signalled he would join the group last month but said yesterday that, although he supported the campaign, it was better it was fought by those in Dunedin.

"I still support the action of the campaign ... but I’m just not going to be involved in it on a formal basis," he said.

"We have got our own issues to look after.

"When we all came together it distracted from the issues at Gore a little bit.

"These guys [Dunedin] are really moving forward and are better without the distraction of the other regions."

To him it was a Dunedin-based campaign.

"We had some discussions generating a Southland-Otago approach which might make it a regional view when it should be just the Dunedin hospital.

"In my opinion for them it is enough for me to support the campaign.

"They will be meeting with the minister [of health] but I won’t be sitting in on this."

The group had originally consisted of Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich and Otago Regional Council chairwoman Gretchen Robertson.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan has not joined the group. He said he wanted to do more research on the subject and how it would affect any plans for an inland hospital.

He had floated the idea of inland Otago getting a hospital of its own.