Hospital car parking fears

Pics from the West Suffolk Hospital car park.
Pics from the West Suffolk Hospital car park.

RISES in hospital parking charges will cause more problems for people living nearby, a councillor fears.

Within days of news that charges at West Suffolk Hospital will go up by about 10 per cent on July 1, Sarah Stamp, the ward councillor for the area, said she had received calls from people worried it would worsen parking problems around the Bury St Edmunds Hospital.

Parking for up to two hours goes up 30p to £3.30 while two to four hours is 40p more at £4.80 and weekly tickets rise £1 to £12.

Cllr Stamp said feelings were running high in streets close to the hospital because of parking mainly by staff, including some inconsiderate parking blocking entrances.

“Putting parking charges up for visitors will cause them to consider parking in local streets,” she said. “It is expensive, even for a short time. If you go to the visitors’ car park during the day it’s rarely full and that should be telling them something.

“There’s a balancing act between providing the best parking service and charging too much.”

Macmillan Cancer Support, which has a campaign against hospital parking charges, says more than one in four hospitals put up charges in March and that, nationally, two-thirds of cancer patients pay full price for parking, even if free or reduced rates are available at their hospital.

Its spokeswoman said: “Our understanding is that cancer patients being treated at the Macmillan Unit at West Suffolk Hospital are offered a permit that caps the maximum cost they would pay, which we welcome.

“We urge the hospital to continue with this concession in the light of increased charges and to publicise it to cancer patients.”

A hospital spokeswoman said increases to car parking charges at the hospital were dictated by its contract with Vinci Park, which expires next year.

She said: “We are conscious that we have a responsibility towards our neighbours and regularly remind our staff of the need to show consideration. Unfortunately we cannot influence where patients and visitors choose to park.”

Vinci was not available for comment.