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Whittington Health row: Protester threatens ‘massive campaign’ if hospital does deal with Grenfell-linked firm

PUBLISHED: 18:11 02 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:17 02 November 2017

Defend the Whittington Hospital protesters gather outside the Whittington Hospital yesterday ahead of a board meeting at the hospital. Picture: Polly Hancock

Defend the Whittington Hospital protesters gather outside the Whittington Hospital yesterday ahead of a board meeting at the hospital. Picture: Polly Hancock

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A campaign leader has vowed to ramp up resistance after the trust that runs the Whittington Hospital ignored calls to get out of a deal with a company linked to Grenfell Tower firm Rydon.

Defend the Whittington Hospital protesters hold a 'Keep Rydon Out of the Whittington Hospital' banner above the heads of Steve Hitchins (chairman) and Siobhan Harrington (chief executive) as they raise their concerns at a board meeting. Picture: Polly Hancock Defend the Whittington Hospital protesters hold a 'Keep Rydon Out of the Whittington Hospital' banner above the heads of Steve Hitchins (chairman) and Siobhan Harrington (chief executive) as they raise their concerns at a board meeting. Picture: Polly Hancock

Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition (DWHC) members lobbied a meeting of the trust’s board yesterday. Shirley Franklin told the Ham&High: “We will have a massive campaign if they go ahead with this deal. We demand they withdraw this contract.”

They are furious at a decision to hand Ryhurst a contract to oversee building improvement work. Its parent firm Rydon was behind a 2016 refurb of the Kensington tower where at least 70 people died in a fire in June.

Thirty people attended a rally outside the hospital ahead of the meeting.

Waving their placards they then marched into the board meeting where two campaigners took up position behind chair Steve Hitchins and chief exec Siobhan Harrington unfurling a banner which read: ‘Keep Rydon out of Whittington Hospital’.

Chief executive Siobhan Harrington speaks at the board meeting. Picture: Polly Hancock Chief executive Siobhan Harrington speaks at the board meeting. Picture: Polly Hancock

Ms Franklin then attacked trust bosses for making a “disgusting” decision which was “a total insult” to the community.

But trust chiefs hit back saying if the plans didn’t go ahead “essential” building work would be delayed whilst the search for a new partner was undertaken with financial penalties resulting from a Ryhurst contract break.

When asked about the possibility of Rydon’s work on Grenfell Tower being singled out as responsible for the fatal blaze the board members countered that they had carried out all the necessary checks, or due diligence, expected. Rydon and Ryhurst have since declined to comment.

Ms Harrington said: “It is very important we engage with our community during the process of redeveloping our estate. We want people to have the opportunity to tell us what they want from our services and the buildings in which they are located. We will be letting people know how they can be involved over the coming months.

“The trust board invited DWHC to its meeting to have the opportunity to hear their concerns. Over the two hours of questioning, the board responded with facts to the concerns raised. I understand other people may share the concerns raised by the DWHC. It is important therefore that the wider community has the opportunity to hear the responses to the questions, and we will be publishing these on the trust’s website.”

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