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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 07:58 GMT 08:58 UK
MS supporters await plan decision
Physiotherapy - picture posed by models
Physiotherapy can help MS patients
Campaigners are stepping up their efforts to win the go-ahead for a 1m therapy centre for people with multiple sclerosis in Cornwall.

Petitions calling on planners to back the Merlin Project centre have been signed by 7,000 people and nearly half the cost has been raised by the public.

The fate of the project will be known later this week when it goes before members of Restormel Borough Council.

A site at Hewaswater, near St Austell, has been earmarked for the complex.

Agricultural site

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system.

It attacks the nervous system, initially causing loss of balance, reduced vision and bouts of localised paralysis.

Eventually, patients may become totally paralysed.

Around 85,000 people in the UK have it, with about 500 in Cornwall being registered as having MS. But some doctors say the figure could be as high as 1,000.

The therapy centre would provide orthodox treatment such as physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, plus complimentary therapies, including acupuncture and reflexology.

However, planners have said it will not be an easy decision because the proposed site, chosen because of its central location in mid-Cornwall, is on agricultural land.

Councillor Annette Egerton backs the project, has said that, although planners may have difficulty granting permission for it, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister could intervene.

Supporters of the project have raised more than 430,000 in two years.

A decision is expected on Thursday.

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