A PLEA for council chiefs to meet Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust chief executive Matthew Hopkins to discuss the misery of on-street parking for residents living near to the county’s hospitals has been thrown out by Conservative councillors.
The county’s Labour group proposed discussions with Mr Hopkins and Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP to urge health chiefs to consider removing car parking charges at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, the Alexandra Hospital and at Kidderminster General.
But the proposals were rejected during a heated debate at County Hall last Thursday (February 14).
Coun Chris Bloore proposed the motion and urged councillors to ‘start a dialogue’ between the NHS, the council and the Government to address the issue.
“For some car parking charges are a barrier to parking at hospitals and it’s residents and this council which are picking up the burden when people park recklessly or anti-socially,” he said.
“The problems of car parking charges in Worcestershire can be dealt with but shouldn’t be dealt with at the cost to our finances or the risk to the day to day life of local residents.”
Redditch councillor Pattie Hill said: “Nine Days Lane has been visted by Coun Alan Amos, two MPs and everything else. Last week we had new yellow lines in Nine Days Lane, I got a call immediately to say they had been totally ignored.
“Recently my husband fell ill and we had to go down from the 111 clinic to A&E and admitted into hospital. There was a three and a half hour wait while we saw the 111 and into A&E, it was five hours before they could find him a hospital bed, by which time I’m in the car park.
“When you talk to them and say why do they need to charge they say its for the upkeep of the car park. Well ours looks like Mars and all the red lines for pedestrians have gone. It’s vital we get some sense into this.”
Conservative Coun John Smith claimed removing car parking charges at the Worcestershire Royal would cost the trust in the region of £2million in lost revenue.
“Car parking is always contentious issue, I am sure all of us would love to have free car parking but in the real world there is no such thing as free car parking.” he said.
Coun Alan Amos, cabinet member for Highways, branded the motion as lacking any ‘serious or intelligent’ thought.
“The fundamental problem with this motion is that it’s pointless. For example, Worcestershire Royal’s car park is so far beyond its capacity now it affects bus services getting in and out of the site,” he said.
“Even with charging the place is choc a block so making parking free will only make a bad situation worse.”
In response, Coun Bloore said: “What is the problem with raising the issue with the Chief Executive or Health Secretary?
“This is something we could have come together on to get ahead of the curve and help local residents and staff affected by this.”