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Town hall chief leans his support to crusade - ten months after it started

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Brent Council has publicly backed the fight against the impending closure of an accident and emergency (A&E) ward in Park Royal following months of speculation about the level of its support.

The council and leader Cllr Muhammed Butt have issued support to campaigners and have vowed to write to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, calling for a thorough review of the plans which will see Central Middlesex Hospital (CMH), in Acton Lane, lose its casualty unit.

It follows months of uncertainty about the council’s stance on the controversial issue after it failed to echo its counterparts in Ealing with a council-run campaign against the plans when they were announced in July.

Last month the council’s health partnership overview and scrutiny committee refused to refer the decision to Mr Hunt for a review.

But Cllr Butt has said he and the ruling Labour group would now be starting campaigns against the decision and that he would write to Mr Hunt.

He told the Times: “We will get on board to support campaigns that exist.

“We need to make sure there are enough resources in place as we don’t know what is happening. At the moment Northwick Park is under huge pressure, which shows there is a need for an A&E to remain.”

However, the news was met with a mixed response from campaign groups who have spent the past 10 months organising protests and marches.

Sarah Cox, of anti-cuts group Brent Fightback, said support should have been issued earlier and called on councillors to join Fightback’s protests.

She said: “We would have liked to get support sooner, but any help is better than none.

“We call on Brent Council or Brent Labour to join us in an official capacity at our next march and show their support.”

Fightback will be joining protesters across north west London on Saturday, April 27, for another march.

The plans to close the A&E department at CMH have attracted widespread opposition since they were announced last year.

Under the plans, called Shaping a Healthier Future (SAHF), four hospitals in north west London will lose their casualty units, including CMH, despite the fact it was rebuilt just six years ago at a cost of £65m.

However, SAHF insists the plans will save lives and hasalso said it will be investing £190m into out of hospital care to improve community facilities.

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