Unit patient slams parking fees

A SIDMOUTH woman is outraged at having to pay for parking while attending the mobile breast cancer screening unit.

Judith Lee, 54, of Manstone Avenue, went for her appointment at the unit, in Manor Road car park, on Tuesday morning.

She was shocked at having to pay and display, and had to ask one of the unit’s staff for change to help cover the cost.

“It is an abomination that people who are going for life-saving screening should have to pay for parking,” said Julie, 54. “There should be some sort of cordoned off area for patients and staff.”

“It’s stressful enough for women to go through screening, and to have to watch the clock while you’re there in case your ticket runs out is abysmal.”

Judith’s 28-year-old daughter, who had breast cancer 18 months ago, gave birth two weeks ago and has been diagnosed with cancer.

Judith said: “This is very raw to me and I’m angry the council is charging patients for parking. It’s wrong.”

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The unit arrived in August and will be in town until Wednesday. Staff also have to pay in the East Devon District Council-owned car park.

Programme manager Margaret Worrall said: “It’s not useful to be charged, and we don’t like to see patients upset. But this is the best place in Sidmouth for us, and we appreciate the council has to charge for its car parks.”

A district council spokesman said EDDC relies on income from car parks and other fees to balance the books and keep Council Tax down.

He said: “We’ve given permission for the unit to stand on a number of spaces in the car park which would otherwise be earning money from fees. It was not considered sustainable to further reduce the council’s income by setting aside spaces for staff or visitors at no charge.”