A PETITION has been launched over recent fears that an 18-bed hospital would close in the next five years.

In October, Richmondshire councillors said they were worried for the future of the Friary Community Hospital in Richmond, North Yorkshire, as its lease comes up for renewal in 2023.

Councillor Yvonne Peacock said residents in the area had voiced concerns over whether the CCG would renew the site.

She said: "This is a big concern for many people. We have got to keep a very watchful brief and make our views known. If it wasn’t there after 2023 it would be quite devastating.”

In January, bosses of the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group (CCG) which looks after the site, said it had ambitions for a "positive future," despite concerns.

Lisa Pope deputy chief operating officer of the CCG said: "We understand how valued the Friary is and we are looking to establish a positive future for the building."

The petition was launched by the Yorkshire Liberal Democrats ahead of the upcoming local elections on May 2.