The cost of parking at Grantham Hospital is to be increased and Blue Badge holders will be asked to pay for the first time.
The proposal was agreed at a meeting of the board of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust today and affects Lincoln and Boston hospitals.
The chairman of Lincolnshire County Council and a Grantham district councillor, Ray Wootten, said he was unhappy with the decision after it was rushed through without any debate.
Coun Wootten said: “I am disappointed they did not have a proper discussion about this. They have basically rubber-stamped it through.”
Blue badge holders will be charged a flat rate of £1.50 per day. Other drivers will be asked to pay £1.40 for an hour, an increase of 20p, £3.40 for parking between one and four hours, which is an increase of 40p, and £4 to park for between four and six hours, an increase of 50p. Patients and visitors who park for more than six hours wll be charged £3.50 and non-patients and non-visitors will pay £10.
Coun Wootten added: “Blue Badge holders do not have the same public transport options as non-disabled people. In addition some struggle to use the machines and many of the payment machines are inaccessible. It is not that they do not wish to pay, it is that they cannot pay and take longer than able-bodied users.
“I say to the ULHT I recognise that you have a £26 million deficit, but to increase the car parking charges by above inflation will add to the number of people who already park in Langford Gardens and Lodge Way to avoid paying, thus causing even more obstruction to residents. With Blue badge holders being charged, it is not the charge, but the ability to pay. It is just another tax for being ill.”
The Trust last increased parking charges at its hospitals in September 2009 with a commitment not to increase them for another three years, which expired in September 2012.
ULHT Director of Estates and Facilities Paul Boocock said: “Since 2009 inflationary increases have successively been absorbed within the existing pricing. Therefore charges need to be changed to ensure that patient and visitor car parking is funded appropriately and resources are not taken away from patient care in order to subsidise the parking facilities.”
Some people will be exempt from the charges including oncology patients receiving regular treatment, those collecting prescriptions and hearing aid batteries, parents attending to support child needs in the special care baby unit, clergy visiting parishioners, adults accompanying children for emergency treatment, and following bereavement.
Any person regularly visiting or attending a Lincolnshire hospital can buy 10 days flexible parking for a reduced fee of £15.
What do you think of the increase in parking charges? Is it fair to charge Blue badge holders? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org