24 JAN 2018

Buckland Hospital car park should not be a cash cow

Parking charges at Buckland Hospital are causing hell for patients, staff and nearby residents. I am calling for them to be slashed.

Patients fork out £2 for an hour in the hospital car park – nearly double the rate of £1.10 an hour at Dover District Council car parks. Staff paying £12.98 a week face yearly costs of £675. Meanwhile, the surrounding streets have become gridlocked as visitors to the hospital look for spaces to park for free.

I met with MacDonald Road residents Mark Hamilton and Wendy Taylor last Friday. I heard how Mr Hamilton, an RNLI volunteer, has been unable on a number of occasions to respond to lifeboat callouts because he was parked-in. Ms Taylor said she worries every time she drives out of the close – because she fears there will be nowhere to park when she returns.

During my visit, we watched as a member of the public parked up in MacDonald Road and walked straight to the hospital – where there were plenty of spaces in the car park. I am writing to the chief executive of the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, asking the trust to slash the price of parking at Buckland.

It's clearly not right that people are unable to park outside their own homes. And it's simply unacceptable that an RNLI volunteer like Mark is blocked in when called out. The root of the problem is the rip-off parking charges enforced at Buckland Hospital. These parking charges are a stealth tax on those who need treatment – and on the staff who have to fork out hundreds of pounds a year just to park at work.

Twice as many clinics are now operating at Buckland Hospital since it opened. We want to offer even more services locally. Yet the hospital car park cannot be used as a cash cow. No one goes to hospital out of choice – yet all are forced to pay. I urge the hospital trust to slash these deeply unfair parking charges.

Staff parking costs at East Kent hospitals were doubled in 2013. The hospital trust took £3,997,745 in car park charges in 2016/17 – the third largest income for charges in England in that year.

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Charlie Elphicke

Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!

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