19th August 2023


On Friday 18th August 2023, nearly 450 people attended the public forum about the possible relocation of the Burnham Surgery to the Burnham Waters development on the outskirts of town.

It is thought to be, by some margin, the largest political/local issue meeting ever held in Burnham.


In September 2023, the NHS made a statement about the Burnham surgery issue. You can read it by clicking here.

You can also find latest information here.

The debate was organised by the town council to make sure decision-makers heard loud and clear local opinion about moving the surgery.

It was scheduled to begin at 7pm on Friday 18th August, 2023, but the start was delayed by around 200 people asking the town council to find a way to let them join the meeting –  the Ormiston Rivers Academy Auditorum, with a capacity of 247, was full by 6.35 pm.

The school made it clear to councillors that if people were allowed to stand inside, it would invalidate insurance.

Special provision had been made for people with disabilities and town councillors gave up their seats so more of the audience could get into the auditorium.

The council arranged for 198 people to stand outside, despite a heavy rain forecast, in an area where they could see the debate and hear the PA system through open doors. Happily the torrential rain held off until an hour after the meeting.

Said Town Mayor Duncan Rawlinson, ‘we chose the biggest seated venue in town. As our local MP said, this was by far the largest public meeting he’d ever witnessed in his entire constituency, let alone Burnham. It was certainly the biggest we’d ever seen.

‘Usually, even for the most controversial issues, we rarely get more than a couple of dozen at Town Council meetings. We knew this was going to be far bigger, and the town councillors, all elected, unpaid volunteers, worked incredibly hard to organise a highly-professional event at the biggest local venue we could find.’

‘Thanks must also go to the office staff, led by Chief Officer Nichola Payne, for their enormous contribution, and to local resident Tim Aves, who provided an excellent sound system free-of-charge. And of course, to Ormiston Rivers Academy, who gave us access at such short notice and in the middle of summer recess.’


Panellists included the Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale, OBE, MP, Carol Banham and Dr Rahman from Burnham Surgery, Dan Doherty from the local NHS Health Authority and Ian Holloway from Burnham Waters, who was later joined by his planning consultant, Stuart Rowe.

Samantha Glover, CEO of Healthwatch, which is tasked with ensuring the NHS fully engages with public opinion, chaired the meeting.

Maldon District Council decided not to send a representative, saying, ‘as the Local Planning Authority [it] must ensure it acts, and is seen to act, fairly and impartially to all development proposals that may be forthcoming and therefore it is not appropriate for officers to attend the local meeting.’

Some residents felt MDC should have been present to answer planning-related questions. An empty chair was left for them on the panel should they change their minds last minute.


The size of the audience indicated the passion felt in the town against the proposed move, with questions covering a range of subjects with many  around the ‘ideal’ central location of the current surgery, and the impracticability of moving it to a location  a three-mile round trip away.

The proposed location, said residents, is impossible for the sick and the elderly to walk to, with the route’s poor pavements and multiple road crossings. The move, said residents, would mean a significant increase in car journeys along a narrow road that lacks mobility scooter or bicycle lanes.

These questions were originally submitted to the town council in large numbers before the meeting. They were summarised by councillors and assigned to volunteer question-readers, including residents David Kennedy, Gary Murray and Suzanne Brewer, plus councillors Nick Skeens and Mary-Ann Munford.

The chair regularly took spontaneous questions from members of the audience reacting to answers from panellists.

Local doctors Latif and Phillips, who own the surgery building, spoke against the move.


Health representatives from the surgery and NHS pointed out that no decision had been made about relocating the current surgery, which was now handling over ten thousand patients when it had originally been designed for six thousand. It was stressed that there would be a full public consultation before any decision was made.

End of the meeting

At the conclusion of the meeting, local resident Karen Hamilton came forward to present a petition currently standing at 1300 signatures opposing the proposed relocation, which was presented to Samantha Glover of Healthwatch, who undertook to make sure she found a way to find the best recipient for it.

Town Mayor Cllr Duncan Rawlinson wrapped up proceedings by asking the panellists to ensure that the Town Council was involved at all stages.

The meeting ended at 9pm.

To hear the recording of the meeting, click on the play arrow below.

18 Aug 2023 – The Burnham Surgery Debate


TRANSCRIPT of the Burnham Surgery Debate

Please click below for a  32-page transcript of the meeting, kindly prepared voluntarily by local resident Frances Franklin.

TRANSCRIPT of Burnham Surgery meeting at Ormiston 18 August 2023. 


The photographs below were taken by Councillor Nick Skeens. You can contact him by clicking here.

Mayor Rawlinson opens the meeting.
There were so many residents trying to get in, 198 had to be accommodated outside.
A side door was opened and the sound boosted to give the audience, viewing proceedings through the windows, a chance of hearing the debate.
The audience was patient, respectful and fully-engaged.
The Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale, OBE MP, with Samantha Glover from Healthwatch, who chaired the meeting.
The Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale, OBE MP, with Samantha Glover from Healthwatch. 2
Carol Banham and Dr Rahman from the Burnham Surgery, alongside Dan Doherty from the local health authority.
Local resident Suzanne Brewer.
The Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale, OBE MP, with Samantha Glover from Healthwatch, alongside Ian Holloway from the Burnham Waters development.
The audience, inside and out.
Dan Doherty from the local Health Authority.
Dr Rahman explaining that the surgery needs to be improved and expanded.
Local resident David Kennedy asking questions about public consultation.
Dan Doherty from the local Health Authority, answering a resident’s question.
Essex and MDC Cllr Wendy Stamp asking a question.
Dr Philips, bottom left, and Dr Latif, right, asking a question. Cllr Doug Bown, who is on both MDC and BTC, by the door.
Dr Hamid Latif.


Ian Holloway from Burnham Waters.
Local Resident Gary Murray asking questions about transport.
Ian Holloway. 2
Stuart Rowe, Burnham Waters planning advisor
The audience, as the night grew dark outside.
Cllr Mary-Ann Munford, an essential part of a very busy council  team,  in the light blue jacket.
Dr John Phillips.
Drs Phillips and Latif. 2
Local resident Ant Law, asking a question.
Rt Hon Sir john Whittingdale, OBE, MP. 3
Rt Hon Sir john Whittingdale, OBE, MP. 4
Local resident Suzanne Brewer asking questions about Access to Services.
Local resident Karen Hamilton holding a petition objecting to the proposed relocation.
Town Mayor Duncan Rawlinson wrapping up proceedings.
Audience applause at the end of the meeting.