U-turn over Ottery Hospital parking charges

PUBLISHED: 12:25 16 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:46 18 June 2010

BACK-TRACKING health bosses performed a u-turn over controversial plans scrap free parking at Ottery Hospital on Wednesday night- insisting they never intended to charge visitors in the first place.

BACK-TRACKING health bosses performed a u-turn over controversial plans scrap free parking at Ottery Hospital on Wednesday night- insisting they never intended to charge visitors in the first place.

Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT) is "looking at" imposing charges in two hospital car parks in the region- in Honiton and Whipton, Exeter- but not in the rest.

The PCT told the Herald last month that a pay-and-display system for ALL of Devon's community hospitals, including Ottery's, was under discussion, in a bid to stop their misuse and promote "greener" methods of travel.

However, Pat McDonagh, PCT assistant business support director, told shocked and confused members of East Devon District Council's scrutiny committee, some who had been told by the PCT that charges would be rolled out region-wide, that an "issue of interpretation" and deficient "staff communication" had led to the issue "growing a life of its own."

On hospital parking charges, The PCT's website still states: "In the coming months a pay and display system will be introduced at the remaining community hospitals managed by Devon Primary Care Trust."

Mr McDonagh said: "Categorically, our position to date is we are looking at introducing charges in Honiton and Whipton.....at this stage".

"We will take stock at the end of the summer and look at where we go next, if at all.

He admitted imposing charges at certain small sites "just isn't do-able."

Scrutiny committee chairman Roger Giles welcomed Ottery's charge-reprieve and expressed "extreme surprise" at the turnaround.

He said: "My view in what was said before and on their website is that they proposed them (parking charges) in all hospitals. To me this seems to me like a change of policy in a storm of protest."

Wiggaton resident Angela Glanville wrote to the PCT to oppose the "one size fits all" charges being imposed on Ottery "where there is no need" for them.

Speaking at the meeting she said: "The letter I got in reply in regards to Ottery makes no mention of the fact there will be no charges- and in fact goes on to argue points of a green travel plan.

"Why is this the first we've heard of there being no charges in Ottery, they've (PCT) adequate opportunity get the message across.

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