Devon's Hospital Parking Problems

January 10, 2012 3:00 PM

Torbay TPA supporter Dave Grylls draws my attention to his council’s inadequate provision of parking in and around Torbay Hospital in Devon, which they have made worse by introducing controlled parking zones (CPZs) in nearby streets. ‘As there are limited spaces in the Hospital itself,’ says Dave, ‘this greatly affects hospital workers, who park on these roads throughout the working week.  These roads have never been subject to parking charges before. I seem to recall that to create or increase parking charges locally, to supplement government cuts would not be tolerated.’

The parking problems around Torbay Hospital have some history with one woman being fined for failing to find an adequate parking place while attending an appointment for her son with severe heart problems. ‘I know it’s wrong,’ she said. ‘But people have to drive around for half an hour to find a car parking space at the hospital when they have important medical appointments to keep.’

Instead of investing in more free parking space, Torbay Council reacted to the problem by introducing controlled parking zones into neighbouring streets. Torbay Hospital authorities were furious and begged the council to reconsider but realised it was being driven not by the needs of patients but by government anti-car policies. ‘We've asked that the council not start the controlled parking zone until we have some sort of parking solution ready,’ said a hospital trust spokesman. ‘The council has to work within Government guidelines, which discourages car travel—and hospitals aren’t exempt from that.’

There are recent signs, however, of a more a common sense approach by Torbay Council in the face of fierce local objections to the introduction of CPZs. A council review is planned of the hospital parking restrictions. ‘There have been 15 objections from Torbay Hospital staff who say they rely on free parking close to work,’ reported the Torbay Herald Express last week, while hospital bosses are calling for the zones to be scrapped.

Objections have also been received to the wider use of CPZs throughout the authority famous for its tourist industry. Guest house owners and hoteliers claim that passing trade has been put off by the new charges, while Torquay museum managers report parking charges deter visitors. As a result, council plans to introduce new CPZs have been slashed from 22 to seven. ‘Initial on-street parking meters proposals specifically considered a number of new locations which included shopping areas, commuter zones and seafront parking sites,’ said the local highway service manager. But, ‘as a result of extensive consultation, a number of proposed locations were withdrawn, replaced or deferred.’ His reasons included the fact that shopping areas are already suffering in the current economic climate and could not sustain parking meters.

Some good sense then, but that still doesn’t help those patients and hospital staff who need to park near Torbay Hospital...

Tim Newark, Bath & South-West TaxPayers’ AllianceTorbay TPA supporter Dave Grylls draws my attention to his council’s inadequate provision of parking in and around Torbay Hospital in Devon, which they have made worse by introducing controlled parking zones (CPZs) in nearby streets. ‘As there are limited spaces in the Hospital itself,’ says Dave, ‘this greatly affects hospital workers, who park on these roads throughout the working week.  These roads have never been subject to parking charges before. I seem to recall that to create or increase parking charges locally, to supplement government cuts would not be tolerated.’

The parking problems around Torbay Hospital have some history with one woman being fined for failing to find an adequate parking place while attending an appointment for her son with severe heart problems. ‘I know it’s wrong,’ she said. ‘But people have to drive around for half an hour to find a car parking space at the hospital when they have important medical appointments to keep.’

Instead of investing in more free parking space, Torbay Council reacted to the problem by introducing controlled parking zones into neighbouring streets. Torbay Hospital authorities were furious and begged the council to reconsider but realised it was being driven not by the needs of patients but by government anti-car policies. ‘We've asked that the council not start the controlled parking zone until we have some sort of parking solution ready,’ said a hospital trust spokesman. ‘The council has to work within Government guidelines, which discourages car travel—and hospitals aren’t exempt from that.’

There are recent signs, however, of a more a common sense approach by Torbay Council in the face of fierce local objections to the introduction of CPZs. A council review is planned of the hospital parking restrictions. ‘There have been 15 objections from Torbay Hospital staff who say they rely on free parking close to work,’ reported the Torbay Herald Express last week, while hospital bosses are calling for the zones to be scrapped.

Objections have also been received to the wider use of CPZs throughout the authority famous for its tourist industry. Guest house owners and hoteliers claim that passing trade has been put off by the new charges, while Torquay museum managers report parking charges deter visitors. As a result, council plans to introduce new CPZs have been slashed from 22 to seven. ‘Initial on-street parking meters proposals specifically considered a number of new locations which included shopping areas, commuter zones and seafront parking sites,’ said the local highway service manager. But, ‘as a result of extensive consultation, a number of proposed locations were withdrawn, replaced or deferred.’ His reasons included the fact that shopping areas are already suffering in the current economic climate and could not sustain parking meters.

Some good sense then, but that still doesn’t help those patients and hospital staff who need to park near Torbay Hospital...

Tim Newark, Bath & South-West TaxPayers’ Alliance

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