There were 1,629 votes to bring back the shelters, 49 more than the opposing side. Disquiet was caused by the revelation that shelters were ordered weeks before the vote took place, giving the impression that the vote itself was just window-dressing (which is frequently the case in smoking issues but with the vote going the other way).
Apparently in Bolton all the concern that smokers were needlessly blocking entrances to the hospital has come to nothing. A growing awareness that you cannot legislate smoking in the open air matters little. The prospect of allowing visitors, patients (wheelchairs, drips and all) and staff somewhere even minimally sheltered to smoke weighs nothing against the compulsion to simply get rid of the smoke. The medical director of the Trust said:
'We have just undertaken the exercise but having reflected on that and heard a lot of views, we feel perhaps we need to look at this in a different way and stand shoulder to shoulder with our public health colleagues.'All that now matters is that the trust is seen not to condone smoking. Ironic that the public health community is referred to in this context, when even ASH gave qualified support to the proposal to build shelters in view of the numbers smoking outside.
There is no 'perhaps we need to look at this in a different way'. The Trust made a promise, published by the Bolton News. To say after the fact that 'we could not ignore the other people who voted against it because it was so close' is not a little insulting to the people whose votes are to be ignored – as so often – namely smokers and their supporters in the general public. The authoritarian approach prevails: 'Smoking is not allowed on site and the key is to enforce the ban,' says Cllr Andy Morgan. Well, good luck with that one.
The Trust should be ashamed of itself.
(Poll result shown here)