Guildford Edition

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Friday 22nd July 2011 No: 16046

Surrey’s Newspaper Since 1864
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Petrol station attack denied
A MAN accused of carrying out a knife attack on the forecourt of a Guildford petrol station has appeared in court to deny the charges. Martin Davison, 34, appeared at Guildford Crown Court yesterday (Thursday) to plead not guilty to counts of wounding with intent and possession of an offensive weapon. The charges relate to an incident at the Total petrol station in Worplesdon Road, in the early hours of Sunday May 15 in which the defendant is alleged to have attacked a man with a knife. A man in his 20s suffered injuries to his neck as a result of the alleged incident and was taken to Royal Surrey County Hospital for treatment. A provisional trial date of October 31 has been set and Mr Davison, of Birchwood Road, West Byfleet, was remanded in custody.

Decision to keep free parking to be re-assessed
A CLASH of policy has seen the threat of pay-and-display parking in Guilford’s few remaining free spaces return. In June, the local committee for Guildford voted unanimously to kick out Surrey County Council’s plan to wipe out much of the town’s free parking spaces as possible, as well as charging to park in the villages of Effingham, Ripley and East Horsley. That decision, however, has been called in by the county council’s leader, Dr Andrew Povey, who says that it has significant policy implications. Those opposed to the introduction of parking charges have put it more bluntly: Surrey County Council wants parking charges introduced and is willing to throw its weight around in an attempt to gets its way. The charges are being introduced to cover the £500,000 countywide deficit. Guildford is the only borough or district in Surrey to generate a profit from its parking charges. Councillor Dave Goodwin, a member of the committee that voted to reject the county council’s plan, said: “The local committee decision was a unanimous, cross-party decision. “The county’s figures don’t add up and we have voted against it. What does that say about localism? “In Guildford, we have got parking that is well-financed and that makes a surplus. “We believe we should receive all the parking money we generate to support the park-and-ride system rather than fill the rest of Surrey’s deficit. “Povey has called the decision in because he doesn’t like the decision we have come to. He can’t say it doesn’t add up but it’s just a clash of policy.” Asked why the decision was taken to keep Tandridge exempt from the parking charges, Cllr Goodwin said: “Because the deputy leader is from Tandridge and they say they don’t need it but there are other areas saying the same thing. “We are perfectly happy with what we have here and we do not need changing. “We review the whole parking scheme each year and make tweaks. We don’t want this big bang.” Surrey’s cabinet will meet on Tuesday to review Guildford’s decision and may decide accept, reject or amend it. Dr Povey said: “Local committees can make a decision within a framework we set out, having 30 minutes’ free parking for example. That’s why we have called in the decision as they have gone outside the framework. “They do have parking charges already in Guildford but they have a lot of parking that is not charged and we feel it should be extended to some of the other areas.” Tandridge, he added, was exempt from the scheme as the district council provided free car parks. To introduce charges, he said, would have little impact as drivers would simply use the free services. Dr Povey denied that the call in flew in the face of localism as the parking fees issue was countywide and the role of the local committee was to tweak and adjust rather than reject out of hand. He used the recent example of Elmbridge, which would not be called in after it amended county plans so as to exclude Claygate from the scheme.

Letters have been sent out to the families of children who have been treated by Dr Nic Driver, advising that a review of their cases is taking place.

Five sites named for open space initiative
SITES in Ash Vale, Guildford, Normandy, Pirbright and Send have been approved by councillors to be included as part of a nationwide initiative. Members of Guildford Borough Council’s executive committee met last week and agreed recommendations to enter the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge. The initiative has been set up to create a network of open spaces across the UK, which will provide access to outdoor recreational spaces for the benefit of local communities. The Avondale open space in Ash Vale, Fox Corner wildlife area in Pirbright, Heathfield nature reserve at Send, the Manor Fruit Farm in Normandy and the Waverley Mead open space have all been chosen for the initiative. A similar scheme, the King George V Playing Fields project, was established in 1936 and is still in existence today. The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge will commemorate the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games. The council will now hold discussions with ward councillors and other representatives to assess support for the five sites.

Hospital recalls young epilepsy patients
‘Overriding responsibility is to make sure the children are safe’
Exclusive by Melanie Hall
HUNDREDS of children being treated at the Royal Surrey County Hospital for epilepsy are having their cases reviewed. This week staff at the Guildford hospital started contacting more than 1,400 families whose children have been treated by Dr Nic Driver since he joined the Royal Surrey in 2002. Letters were delivered to parents yesterday, informing them that a major review is being conducted into the way their children’s cases have been managed. The hospital says the review was launched after concerns were raised by other healthcare professionals into the medical practice of paediatric consultant Dr Driver. Dr Christopher Tibbs, the Royal Surrey’s medical director, said in a statement to the Surrey Advertiser that national guidelines were issued in 2004 about ways in which epilepsy is diagnosed and what constitutes treatment. He said the concern was whether, in some cases, Dr Driver’s procedures followed those guidelines. Both Dr Tibbs and Royal Surrey chief executive Nick Moberly stressed that they were not saying Dr Driver had done anything wrong. “It is important to understand that Dr Driver is a wellrespected, well-liked member of staff,” said Dr Tibbs. “This is a difficult process for us and a difficult process for him. Our overriding responsibility is to the children, to make sure they are safe and looked after. “We are also doing our best to look after Dr Driver.” After being made aware of the concerns, the hospital decided to hold an initial review conducted by internal staff and external experts. With the help of independent experts, the hospital will now examine the case notes of 569 children who have been diagnosed by Dr Driver as having epilepsy or a related disorder. Letters have also been sent to the families of 900 additional patients who have been treated by him for other conditions, giving reassurance that this review does not affect them. The Royal Surrey excluded Dr Driver from seeing patients diagnosed with epilepsy as soon as the concerns were raised in February this year. It went on to fully exclude him in March. Dr Tibbs said the review would be a “painstakingly slow process” and it was not possible to name an expected date for completion. “It is very important parents understand it is much more important we get it absolutely right than we do it in a rush and get it wrong,” he said. However, the Royal Surrey has urged parents of children who are currently receiving treatment for epilepsy or a related disorder to not alter or stop their medication. Medical staff at the Guildford hospital have warned that suddenly halting the long-time use of a neurological drug can have a serious impact on the brain. “Any change in treatment must be very carefully controlled,” said Dr Tibbs. Mr Moberly said he understood that the news would create a great deal of worry for the families of the young patients. “We are extremely sorry that a situation has arisen that will give rise to this degree of concern,” he said. “Our first and foremost concern is to make sure that no patient at the Royal Surrey County Hospital comes to any kind of harm.” Dr Tibbs said he is proud of the fact that the hospital is taking a “responsible attitude in informing the public that this process is going on. “We are not trying to hide anything,” he added. “It is not possible to comment any further on the possible outcome of the review. “We must now focus all our efforts on a quick conclusion to the review and that patients are informed of the outcome and the next steps.” Mr Moberly said it was important to stress that the review will establish the facts of what may or may not have happened. “We will write again to the patients affected by the end of August with an update on the progress of the review,” he added.

Cllr Dave Goodwin.

‘I never had anything but absolute faith in Dr Driver’
THIS is not the first time that Dr Nic Driver has made the headlines. In a high-profile story last year, the Surrey Advertiser reported on a group of parents who were petitioning the Royal Surrey in a bid to reinstate Dr Driver, after he resigned from the hospital in protest over planned cuts to the child psychology service. Dr Driver handed in his notice in April 2010 when management originally planned to completely axe the hospital’s psychological care service at the child development centre in a bid to save money. Although the hospital reconsidered and decided against cutting the provision, it would have meant halving the number of hours of child psychological care on offer, from two days a week to one, if it had gone ahead. Parents whose children had been treated by Dr Driver were appalled that his resignation had been accepted, pointing out it had never been his intention to actually leave but only to make a point. The families rallied round Dr Driver, not wanting to lose a consultant who they felt had been integral to their children’s care, with one mother praising him as ‘incredibly compassionate’ and ‘one in a million’. Following protests by parents outside the Royal Surrey, Dr Driver was eventually reinstated. Speaking to the Surrey Advertiser this week, the hospital’s chief executive, Nick Moberly, denied that the current review of Dr Driver’s patients was anything to do with last year’s protests. “This has nothing to do with any of the past issues which were in the public domain,” he said. ““This is a process we are obliged to go through whenever concerns are raised. “Nic is a very well-respected member of staff who clearly commands great loyalty from his patients.” Emma Wright was one of the parents involved in last year’s protest and her son, Alex, has been treated by Dr Driver for a rare neurological condition. On hearing about the current review, she said: “I never had anything but absolute faith in Dr Driver and we don’t know any reason to think otherwise. “The care we have received from him, he seems to be extremely thorough. “He saved Alex’s life at least twice. Our son did have life-threatening seizures. “It was May bank holiday two years ago and Dr Driver was brought out of his bed in the middle of the night and he came into the hospital.” Speaking about the review, she said: “Obviously I don’t know what the background to the current situation is, I can’t comment on that.” She added: “From what I know, everybody I know has a great deal of confidence in him.”