By Lin Ferguson


A resolution could be in sight on the fate of the derelict Patea Hospital.


Whanganui MP Chester Borrows said he was delivering a report to Finance Minister Bill English this week.


"I have already spoken with the minister and he said he was well aware of what needs to be done and that it will happen fairly quickly." The Government has been asked to fund the demolition of the building.

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In February a former nurse at the hospital, Sue Walkinton , and a group of former colleagues were organising a public meeting in March in the hopes they could persuade Government to buy back the property and demolish the buildings.


However, Mr Borrows stepped in and said that he had already approached Mr English who had agreed to take a report on the hospital with a view to resolving the issue.


"Having a public meeting wasn't going to help anyone," he said.


The old hospital has been described as dangerous by locals for years.


Patea kaumatua Sid Kershaw said it was time to get something done.


"The owner has had 13 years to fix it. "It is disrespectful to our town and our people. The old morgue is sacred, it's tapu. It's been an unhappiness we don't want any longer," Mr Kershaw said. "But because it is privately owned we can't do anything."


The hospital was originally built in 1876. It was modernised in the 1950s and 1960s, but closed in 1990.


South Taranaki District Council mayor Ross Dunlop said the real issue was whether such previously government-owned properties should ever have been sold to individuals who obviously didn't have the resources to maintain them. Patea Community Board chairman Brian Rook said even though the board had written to government ministers it was a "total waste of time" because they never heard back. "The Government need to try and put this right," said Mr Rook.


He was hopeful a resolution was ahead at last, he said.


"It was criminal that the Ministry of Health sold the hospital privately for a pittance so it's not their problem any more."


Earlier hospital owner Basil Anderson told the Chronicle that he was a sickness beneficiary just "living quietly" on the property and people should leave him alone.


"I'm not harming anyone."


Mr Borrows said the worst insult was that the buildings had been handed over in pristine condition because they were schools and hospitals that were in full operation.


"I am working with Finance Minister Bill English to get some resolution and am convinced we'll have a resolution on the hospital fairly soon," he said.