Councillor sets record straight

RUMOURS that the Southern Downs Regional Council rejected a plan for a new medical centre at Killarney are untrue, according to the council's Planning and Environment Committee chairperson Councillor Neil Meiklejohn.

Speculation had for some weeks surrounded a proposal to convert a property on Pine St, adjacent to the Killarney Memorial Aged Care facility, into a new surgery for the town, which has been without a local general medical practice since late 2008.

Cr Meiklejohn yesterday moved to hose down the issue, confirming that an application for the Pine St site had been lodged with the council in November last year, but was later withdrawn.

“This application never proceeded, as the applicant needed to obtain authority from the owner of the land to lodge the application,” Cr Meiklejohn said.

“The applicant was granted four extensions of time to do so but the authority, as required by law, was never provided to council and the applicant subsequently withdrew the application before it was even assessed.”

Cr Meiklejohn said the applicant had, in point of fact, thanked the council and its officers for the assistance they had provided.

It is understood the applicant for the Pine St site was a Dr Chris Walkden-Brown, who recently purchased a rural property in the Killarney area and who previously practiced at Canungra in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Attempts to make contact with Dr Walkden-Brown yesterday were unsuccessful.

Cr Meiklejohn said council planning staff had been working “very positively” with all parties enquiring about establishing a doctor's surgery in Killarney and were well aware of the urgent need to re-establish a site for medical services in the town.

“It is the task of the officers to advise potential applicants on requirements under the planning scheme and they have done so professionally and accurately,” he said.

In a separate application, the Killarney Co-op gained council approval to establish a new medical centre at a site on Ivy St last November but the project is yet to proceed.

Cr Meiklejohn said informal inquiries about a separate site in the main street of Killarney were received in January from other interests but at this time no application has been lodged for council's consideration.

Killarney's former medical centre, next to the Killarney Hotel on Willow St, was closed down in November 2008 when nurse visits by the Warwick Medical Centre ceased, as it was not financially viable to continue the service.

Former Killarney general practitioner Dr Gillian McConnell ceased practice at the Willow St surgery in April of that year for personal reasons, with Killarney residents having been forced to travel to Warwick and elsewhere to seek medical attention since the surgery's final closure.

Several attempts to secure federal funding through regional health programs for a new medical centre have been unsuccessful.



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