Geoffrey Theobald: An exciting year coming up for the city

The hospital redevelopment promises to kick off what I hope will be a really exciting year for the city.

It was very exciting to see the £485 million Royal Sussex County Hospital ‘3Ts’ redevelopment finally get underway on site this week.

The government gave final approval for the funding of this vital project last year in what was a real vote of confidence in our city and it can’t come soon enough.

Currently, staff at the hospital are having to battle with facilities and buildings which are simply not able to cope with the demands of 21st Century healthcare. Their job is tough enough as it is without this added complication!

The 3Ts will change all that with the building of a new state of the art Sussex Cancer Centre capable of treating an extra 700 patients a year and the expansion of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, providing modern teaching and training facilities for undergraduates and staff.

The redevelopment will also support the hospital’s role as the major trauma centre for Sussex and the wider region.

New facilities including trauma operating theatres will ensure patients receive treatment locally instead of being referred to London-based hospitals as is currently the case.

The project begins with a helideck being built on top of the Thomas Kemp Tower enabling air ambulances to land at the hospital rather than in East Brighton Park, saving valuable time.

The hospital redevelopment promises to kick off what I hope will be a really exciting year for the city.

The British Airways i360 tower has already become an iconic feature of our seafront and it will be a truly momentous day when it opens to the public in the Summer.

I am also looking forward to tangible progress on a new leisure centre at the King Alfred this year. The council’s policy and resources committee, of which I am opposition spokesman, will be asked to select a preferred developer for the project later this month and, subject to proper consultation with local residents, I would hope that a plan which is acceptable to all parties can be agreed reasonably soon afterwards.

It is sad to have to end my column (and to start the New Year) on a tragic note but I have to mention the premature death last weekend of the promising young Sussex cricketer Matthew Hobden.

Being a member at the County Ground myself, I have watched Matt develop over the last couple of years and, as others more qualified than me have said, he had real raw talent and was destined for great things.

It is just so terrible that he has been cut off in his prime like this and I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to all his family and friends, not to mention his fellow players and coaches, for their loss. Incidents like this certainly put everything else in our lives into perspective – R.I.P. Matthew.

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald is leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove City Council