Coffins to be removed from Health Village

COFFINS have been discovered buried on the site of the new Health Village in Banbridge.

Work to build the Community Treatment and Care Centre on the Old Hospital Road is due to begin in the summer after seven years since the original plans for the village were drawn up.

When contacted by the Leader, the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said they hope to avoid any kind of delay while the coffins are removed from the site and re-buried in the town.

Archaeolgoists have been drafted in to deal with the discovery after enabling works, costing around £1.1m, began earlier this year.

A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said, “The Trust can confirm the discovery of coffins on the site of the new Community Treatment and Care Centre in Banbridge.

“The contractor has followed the Trust protocol and the Trust and the contractor are working with an archaeological company on plans for the re-burial of the coffins at Banbridge Cemetery. The Trust does not envisage that there will be a delay to work on the site.”

It was announced in January that the full £15m would be made available from the Health Department’s budget, despite earlier concerns that almost half of the money would have to come from private finance.

Speaking to the Leader just after announcing at the beginning of the year that all £15m would be made available, Mr Poots said the possibility of private investment and a longer deadline for the project’s completion was “not satisfactory”.

The village is due to be completed by 2014 and will employ 220 staff while providing a range of community services including a full range of Allied Health Professional (AHP) services, a rehabilitation suite, two dental surgeries, children and young people’s services, mental health services, specialist nursing and health promotion.

Upper Bann MP David Simpson said he is hopeful the discovery of coffins will be treated with due sensitivity and work to the village can begin without delay.

“Clearly such a discovery needs to be handled with great care, tact and sensitivity,” said the DUP politician.

“I certainly hope that work will quickly resume at the site and that Banbridge will quickly reap the benefit of this £15 million investment in the area’s health.”