PLANS for a new pharmacy in Saltney which will allow Welsh residents to obtain their free prescriptions have got the go ahead.
Saltney Town Council had called for an end to the current situation where some residents are unable to access free prescriptions.
Free prescriptions are available to everyone who lives in Wales but for people living in Saltney, the nearest Welsh pharmacy is the Boots store on Broughton Shopping Park, a round-trip of about four miles.
Many instead choose to use the nearer pharmacy on Chester Street but that lies across the border in England, where there is a charge for prescriptions.
Supermarket chain Morrisons has been trying since September to get permission for an in-store pharmacy at its store in Chester Street, which lies in Wales.
Despite the Welsh Government vetoing the plans a letter to the community council this weekend has seen it change its stance.
The letter from the Department of Health says: “The Welsh Ministers have therefore determined that the existing level of pharmaceutical services in the neighbourhood of Saltney is inadequate for a proportion of population, and it is therefore desirable to grant the application made by Morrisons to secure within the neighbourhood, the adequate provision of pharmaceutical services for those patients.”
The letter also states while there was no evidence of formal complaints regarding the level of provision of existing pharmaceutical services having been made to the local health board, the Welsh Ministers did note the 700-signature petition that had been submitted by Saltney Town Council.
It was acknowledged that the petition was not independent, but on balance, it was decided that the petition demonstrated there was a significant level of local support for a pharmacy to be opened in the Morrisons Store.
The original plan by the supermarket company was rejected in 2012, but the Welsh Government decision was quashed after representation from Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant, Saltney councillors and residents.
The application and appeals against it was reconsidered late last year and hundreds of residents made their support for the bid known.
Mr Sargeant said: “I am absolutely delighted there has finally been a positive outcome for Saltney.
“Last autumn I was overwhelmed by the huge support local residents showed for this application – almost everyone I spoke to was in favour of their town getting its own pharmacy – and I am sure their determination to stand up for Saltney went a long way in ensuring its success.
“Many people, particularly elderly people or those with ongoing conditions, were having to travel over the border to Chester to collect their medicine, meaning many did not qualify for free prescriptions as they would in Wales.
“This decision will put an end to that situation and I hope residents are as pleased as I am at the news.”
Flintshire Councillor for Saltney, Veronica Gay, said: “We recognised the need in our business plan before Morrisons was built.
“I got a text from the town clerk at the weekend saying we’d been granted it. It’s just fantastic"
Fellow county councillor Richard Lloyd said he was “jumping up and down” with the news.
“It’s a triumph,” he said, “for the perseverance of members of the public, Saltney Town Council and Morrisons themselves.”