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David Ellesmere delighted to perform "topping out" ceremony at Two Rivers Medical Centre

I was delighted to be asked to perform the “topping out” ceremony to mark the making watertight of the new Two Rivers Medical Centre last week, writes Labour Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, David Ellesmere.

The new centre being built by Apollo Medical and local firm Barnes Construction is certainly coming along and the plan is for it to be open by summer.

It will be a significant improvement over the existing doctors’ surgeries at Lattice Barn and Woodbridge Road that it will replace. Both of these are converted houses with bits tacked on and have not been fit for purpose for some time.

The new medical centre is purpose-built for the needs of the modern health service. It will have twenty-five consultation rooms, a minor operations suite, a pharmacy and GP training facilities.

Staff from the surgeries were looking round and clearly excited about the possibilities the new building will bring.

The Borough Council played a big part in enabling this to go ahead.

The centre is on the site of the council’s old West Villa Homeless Families Unit. For years this too was not fit for purpose.

Our staff did an amazing job of helping families at that supreme moment of crisis: when they have lost their home. Most of us have never had to suffer such hardship, and never will, but we can all imagine how traumatic it would be.

The unit provides a stable environment for families with help and support to find more permanent accommodation.

But this was being delivered from an old Victorian workhouse supplemented by portacabins.

The deal we did with the NHS enabled us to sell the old site and use the money to refurbish an empty and semi-derelict sheltered housing scheme, turning it into a homeless families’ unit we can all be proud of.

This really was a win-win-win situation.

A new medical centre and homeless families’ unit both fit for the 21st century, an empty building brought back into use and jobs sustained in the local construction industry.

I’m looking forward to a tour of the building when it is completed.

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