Free parking blow for Ottery Hospital visitors

FREE parking at Ottery St Mary Hospital is to be scrapped by Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT).

FREE parking at Ottery St Mary Hospital is to be scrapped by Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT).

A date for the implement of a pay-and-display system in all of Devon's community hospital car parks is currently under discussion and the full extent of the scheme - including fee charges - will be announced later this month.

The trust said the charges will prevent abuse of the car park by people who leave their vehicles in hospital grounds without using their facilities.

It is also hoped the move will encourage people to car-share or adopt greener methods of travel.

Patients and visitors leaving their cars at the site could be forced to pay out up to �1.40 for up to a two-hour stay once the charges are in place.

Hospital League of Friends volunteers and some staff will be exempt from paying to park.

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Ottery county councillor Roger Giles dubbed the charges "totally unnecessary" and said he wasn't aware of any problem in Ottery's hospital car park.

He said: "What consultation has there been? Ottery isn't a place like Wonford in Exeter. I think it would create all sorts of problems and will just mean cars will park on roads nearby, causing a lot of distress for a lot of people."

"Communities all over the district, along with a very active League of Friends, have raised thousands of pounds to improve our hospitals. They have done this to give those who need health care better hospital facilities, and this includes the ability by people, their relatives and friends, to access these facilities without having to incur unnecessary costs."

The PCT believes charging drivers to park would free up spaces needed by patients and visitors.

It said charging visitors to park is already an established practice throughout many UK hospitals, including Devon.

Dave Rollason, project manager for the scheme, said: "We are introducing our green travel plan to all hospitals across Devon to counter traffic congestion at these sites and encourage people to switch to more environmentally friendly means of travelling to and from these locations.

"This is just one of a series of measures we are introducing to help tackle congestion and improve parking at the site.

"We are currently consulting staff on the proposals and will make public announcements at the appropriate time.

"The charges will be in line with the parking fees already charged locally."

"Permits will be free of charge to hospital staff and will be allocated on a points basis.

"We want to encourage people to car share or adopt green travel measures.

"Car parking charges already operate at several of our hospitals in Devon and the system is working well to help manage parking at these locations."

East Devon District Council said its scrutiny committee "vigorously" opposed the plans at a meeting earlier this month and will write to the PCT expressing its "concern and annoyance."

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