LIKE most other people I was shocked to open my Bicester Advertiser on February 24 to discover that four GP surgeries in Bicester will close in plans to run all services from one site.

It appears tens of thousands of patients will need to go to a so called new super-surgery on the edge of Bicester. Alchester Medical Group announced that Langford Medical Practice, Victoria House Surgery, Montgomery House Surgery and Ambrosden Surgery will all close. Only one surgery in Bicester will remain, at the Bicester Health Centre.

READ AGAIN: Four surgeries to close under Bicester's 'super-surgery' plans

The rest will be combined at a location yet to be determined but sites at Kingsmere and Graven Hill are being considered.

This plan means many patients who could walk or cycle to their local surgery will now be forced to drive or use public transport.

Of course, a major problem with this is that there is very little public transport in Bicester and that which exists is under pressure. What little we do have is routed North-South, connecting with Oxford and not travelling around within Bicester itself such services being severely limited or non-existent.

Ambrosden residents who currently have their own surgery will be even worse off, being forced to travel several miles into Bicester. The plans will make it almost impossible for the elderly, the vulnerable and the disabled, as well as those without a car, to reach appointments. The very people who most need the services.

Car parking is another issue. The plan promises very large parking provision, but beware about taking such promises at face value.

Other recent facilities, like the new St Edburg’s Primary School, had adequate parking when they were constructed, but as many know to their cost, the local council in its dubious wisdom has permitted both the overspill car park and the waiting area across the road to be built on. All the surrounding roads have restrictions, so there is now virtually no parking at a facility where there is also no public transport of any note.

There is nothing to stop this happening at the new hub even if (a big if) adequate car parking is provided initially.

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The only solution is to oppose this ‘super hub’ before it gets off the ground. The Labour Party opposition on Cherwell District Council has never even been consulted on this proposal, probably because the proponents suspected that we might be prepared to stand up for the rights and interests of the people of Bicester rather than rolling over like most other parties.

OCCG should be under no illusion, the Labour Party will oppose this proposal. It will do so not only because it exacerbates social exclusion of the elderly, disabled and those without cars but because it maximises car journeys, and therefore pollution and congestion, at a time when we ought to be doing the opposite.

A super hub also threatens to break the important link between patient and designated doctor.

We will make this an issue in the local elections and all subsequent elections until it goes away.