Flint holds referendum over NHS hospital beds
A referendum over whether NHS hospital beds should be returned to a Flintshire town is being held.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) shut the hospital in Flint in 2013, with the loss of ward beds, despite protests by up to 1,000 people.
The referendum will ask the question: "Do you agree that NHS inpatient beds should be reinstated in Flint?".
Health officials do not have to act on the outcome but campaigners hope it could force a rethink.
Polling stations in the town will be open from 16:00-21:00 BST on Thursday with the count held at the town hall.
BCUHB says its £5m plans for purpose-built health centre in the town is designed to ensure "that care is local, tailored to individual patients needs, and meets clinical standards - now and for the future".
Opponents have described the planned health centre as "nothing more than a GP surgery with a clinic attached".
They argue some people in Flint will have to catch a train and then a bus to reach Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire.
Now the Save Flint Cottage Hospital campaign group wants the ward beds reinstated following the loss of them and a minor injuries unit at the site of the former Flint community hospital.
Last year a petition signed by 5,000 people calling for the health board's decision to be overturned was handed in to Wales' health minister.
And last month more than 750 people voted for a referendum under the Local Government Act 1972 which allows for one to be set up if enough people - 150 - seek to hold one.
The town council is funding the estimated £3,000 cost of the referendum.
Colin Everett, Flintshire council chief executive and returning officer, said the referendum would not be run in the same way as a full election or by-election.
"This is the first community poll we have run in Flintshire," he said.
"We are aiming to reduce this cost through officials waiving their fees and voluntary effort."