Three years after the Northern General started charging staff for parking, residents are furious little has been done to address parking problems in the area.
In an attempt to ease the problem, the Council are looking at a residents’ parking permit scheme and it was the topic of discussion at January’s Community Assembly meeting at Fir Vale School.
Mark Higginbotham, from the Council's Transport Planning, explained the costs of the proposed scheme. Residents would be charged £10 a year for a permit to park on their road and £30 a year if they want a second permit. Local businesses would be charged £20 a year and £60 a year for a second permit, initially limited to two per household or business. Visitors will have to pay 10p a day, he said.
With only a 10% response to the earlier questionnaire, 2600 leaflets were sent to houses around the hospital to encourage more feedback by the end of January deadline. The Council will use the feedback to decide which streets should be included in the scheme. This will be discussed with residents again before final proposals go to Councillors for approval.
Mr Higginbotham encouraged residents to speak to him directly about concerns or particular issues so they could be taken into account. You can contact him on 273 5031.
David Middleton, of Norwood Road said: “I can understand the 10% response. It’s the fourth survey we’ve had and I’m fed up with it. The hospital made £3m in one year from parking fees. They don’t want anything to change.”
Local resident, Judith Bower said: “I’ve needed ambulances to take me to and from the hospital but, from seven in the morning until six o’clock at night, hospital staff are parked outside our flats. I am tired of having ambulance men walk me two hundred yards up the road where they’ve had to leave the ambulance because there’s nowhere to park.”
“My niece works at the hospital and she says a multi-storey car park is not going to change anything because there are already plenty of spaces in the hospital car park but the staff can’t afford to pay and, even when they ask for a permit, many of them are refused.”
Some residents at the meeting felt they shouldn’t have to pay for parking permits.
“If you’re really concerned, give the residents free parking permits for three years and get the hospital to pay for it,” Wahid Nazir from the Pakistan Advice Centre said.
Councillor Ibrar Hussain agreed, saying, “Why don’t we ask the hospital to pay?” and said he would approach the hospital executives himself.
The Messenger suggested bringing back the Northern General Parking Liaison Group so that residents could speak directly to hospital executives about the parking issues, as only the Hospital has the power to change the situation.
“We are encouraging the hospital to think of alternative ways for staff to travel to the hospital, including a shuttle bus from the Hallamshire,” Mr Higginbottom said. But residents are unconvinced: “They tried to encourage cycling to work, but that fell like a lead balloon,” said Mrs Bower.
Cllr Peter Price, chair of the North East Community Assembly, said the councillor responsible for liaising with the hospital executives is Ian Auckland, cabinet member for sustainable development and transport.