COUNCILLORS have hit out over delays in building a long-awaited mental health facility.
And there have been warnings there could be “very tragic” consequences should the project not be completed in the near future.
Lancashire Care NHS Trust has earmarked spring 2013 to begin work on the £40m development – known as The Harbour – at Whyndyke Farm, on Preston New Road, Marton.
But members of Blackpool Council’s health scrutiny committee say they are “disappointed” no firm date has been set.
At a meeting of the committee, Alistair Rose, project director at Lancashire Care NHS Trust, was tackled on the ambiguity of the date set for work to begin on the build.
He claimed the delay on the project, which was first mooted more than five years ago, was due to changes in planning laws.
Mr Rose told the committee: “It’s a date I won’t be drawn on until later in the process but it’s our intention that we proceed on the development of this building.”
Coun John Boughton said he was concerned the resort could end up with “something very tragic occurring” if people such as those who suffer from conditions like psychosis are not catered for appropriately in the near future.
He said: “I’m concerned about the timing and not being able to give a definitive date.
“People who have mental health problems are vulnerable and we could be failing some of the people in our society who need that help.”
Coun John Jones said: “We had assurances work would start in the spring of this year – that hasn’t happened.
“We need these facilities to be there because when there’s a recession on there’s a more acute problem with mental health.”
It is hoped the new project, which lies close to Junction 4 of the M55, will cater for up to 154 in-patients when completed.
It is to be the first of four such units to be built across Lancashire.
Coun Lily Henderson aired her frustration about the delay at the health scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday.
She said: “I’m very disappointed.
“This project seems to have been going on forever and it seems to be the delays are continuing.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate or fair to suggest the planning process is part of that.
“I don’t care whose fault it is but we’ve got to fight for the people of Blackpool.”
In response, Mr Rose said: “I’m hearing very clearly the frustration of the committee and it’s not a frustration that’s yours alone.
“We need to get it right and we do have a commitment to doing this.
“This committee has been very supportive of us.
“This is a commitment the trust has made and we intend to get this away and that’s the objective at the moment.”
Speaking after the meeting, Coun Boughton told The Gazette: “We’re very concerned about people who suffer from mental health problems who are in a very vulnerable state and who can be extremely frightened.
“If there’s no help for them then frankly we’ve failed those people.”