Anger over lack of a doctor

ALLORA’S demographic reflects one of a high ageing population, and the absence of a resident doctor has amplified concern among the community, which expressed discontent at the Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) economic development strategy meeting on Wednesday night.

With 40 per cent of Allora’s population older than 55, about 100people attended the meeting at the community hall to prove the issue was raw and continued to be a concern.

Allora Task Force chairman Jon Constable said four – out of the possible nine – community-elected councillors attended the meeting and vacated when a short recess was called.

“Vic Pennisi, Denise Ingram, Mally McMurtrie and Ross Bartley were there,” Mr Constable said.

On March 16,600 people crammed into the Allora community hall for a meeting which turned heated as people expressed concern and the need to secure a permanent medical clinic for the town.

Allora has been without a permanent GP for about six months and is in need of a modern surgery.

Wednesday’s meeting, albeit a more subdued version when compared to its predecessor two months earlier, was envisioned to tackle the town’s economic development concerns as well as the doctor crisis, but Mr Constable said residents “got caught up in the issue”.

“It just goes to show how important this issue (lack of a resident doctor) is to the community. It definitely is at the forefront of their minds,” Mr Constable said.

“The meeting wasn’t the best forum for the doctor debate and nor was it intended to be, but most people wanted to talk about the medical issue.”

While it is predicted a doctor would boost the economic buoyancy of the town, Mr Constable said otherstrategic issues needed to beaddressed to ensure its longevity and viability.

“Strategies such as farming, Allora’s water quality, lack of sewerage (which severely restricts both commercial and residential development), education and transport,” he suggested.

A key point raised regarding the town’s sewerage problem was that it affected the quality of shops available for retail use in the main street.

Therefore if these shops weredemolished for the purpose of re-development they would not be able to be rebuilt to a similar size as aresult of SDRC’s rules on the provision of septic systems.

Others spoke of the lack of land for further expansion, either residential, commercial or industrial. Several made the point that the Allora Industrial Estate had been full for some time now, and it was time that it was expanded.

SDRC Economic Development Strategy project manager and economic development officer John Randall said some “good points had been made at the meeting” but many needed pro-active action.

“All in all, it was a productive night,” Mr Randall said.

“Sometimes during the consultation phase of projects like this most of the material comes out in the group discussion, but sometimes, as inAllora, there needs to be a fair degree of follow-up. So (workshop facilitator Deb Archbold) will be following up on many of the points raised during the next fortnight.”

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