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Lib Dems turn up the heat in hospital parking charges debate

February 17, 2009

hastings-eastbourne-lib-dems-together-on-parkingFollowing the decision of the East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust in November 2008 not to take up a Liberal Democrat recommendation for a two hour free period of parking in the pay as you leave scheme to go live this year, Lib Dems in Hastings and Eastbourne have joined forces, and are seeking the support of their political opponents.

The Lib Dems have lodged a request under the Freedom of Information Act in order to access information on average length of stay in the car parks on both the Conquest and District General Hospital sites.

Speaking at the weekend, Nick Perry, the Lib Dem parliamentary campaigner for Hastings & Rye said,

“We believe that hospital parking charges are a stealth health tax, and that the NHS should be free at the point of delivery. But we appreciate that the recession is biting, and that our hospitals are not in a position to waive all charges. This is why we proposed an initial free period. Our proposal of two hours was not accepted, but whilst English Trusts have failed to match the Scots and the Welsh and abolish charges altogether, there are Trusts around the country that are agreeing to free short-stay parking.”

Hands Off the Conquest campaigner and Liberal Democrat activist Margaret Williams said,

“I do voluntary work in the hospital shop and we are forever being asked for change for the car park. Everyone thinks the charges are too high. I am sure the public would not object to nominal fees for the upkeep of the car parks, but object to the hospital making a profit out of them. Also, if there was no clamping, then the private firm employed to enforce the fees would not be needed, hence saving the Trust money.”

Nick added, “As with all things that are important to our local area, the issue does not need to become party political. I hope that Labour and the Conservatives will join the campaign for a fairer deal on hospital parking.”

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