Residents meet to brainstorm parking

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A PACKED Southgate Community Centre hosted a workshop on Wednesday to brainstorm ideas to tackle problem parking around West Suffolk Hospital.

At the meeting, chaired by Cllr Craig Dearden-Phillips, tables were set up with blown-up maps of the area so residents could pinpoint spots where they had trouble with parking.

The groups then chose a spokesperson who had a couple of minutes to outline where they thought the main problem areas were and to suggest solutions.

Jan Bloomfield, the hospital’s executive director of workforce and communications, spoke to the residents about the huge problems facing the area over parking and what the hospital trust was doing to help the situation.

She also addressed residents who say they have been treated badly when they have told hospital staff they cannot park in front of their house.

She said: “I apologise for our staff if you have suffered some kind of abuse, I do not condone that behaviour from our staff.

“We have got to do something about reducing car parking on our site. We employ 2,600 people at West Suffolk Hospital and that is not even taking account for the patients we treat and have 1,200 staff parking spaces.”

She then faced a heated question and answer session where residents could voice their grievances.

The workshop, attended by more than 80 people, was set up by Cllr Dearden-Phillips and St Edmundsbury borough councillors for the Southgate ward Sarah Stamp and Patrick Chung.

During the meeting, areas around Home Farm Lane, Hardwick Lane, Baron’s Road and its greens were identified as the main areas of concern.

Ideas such as double and single yellow lines, restrictive parking zones, improved park and ride facilities and an altered pricing structure at Hardwick Heath car park were all discussed as possible solutions to the parking problems.

After the workshop, Mrs Bloomfield said: “It is really helpful in terms of listening to the concerns of the residents and to see what they are going through.

“It is going to be quite challenging. We feel we have done a lot as a hospital to reduce the impact with some of our measures.

“It is one of the products of our success, with more and more people coming to the hospital we need more and more staff and therefore more parking is needed.”

Cllr Chung said: “It is great to speak face to face with the community to find out where the problems area and what they feel about where they live so we can take it on board and try to sort it out.”