10p increase announced following annual car park review
29 June 2009
Patients and visitors will be asked to pay 10p more to park at West Suffolk Hospital for any length stay during the day following the annual review of parking on the site.
A range of measures will also be introduced to relieve pressure on spaces by encouraging alternative modes of transport, while an additional staff member will be employed to help traffic flow at the busiest times.
In addition, CCTV cameras will be added at the front of the hospital to improve security, while the possibility of introducing car share permits for staff will also be investigated.
The changes were discussed during a meeting of the trust's board on Friday (26 June). They will be introduced by VINCI Park Services UK Ltd, which took over management of the car parks at West Suffolk Hospital in April 2006. The trust receives an income of more than £500,000 a year as part of the seven-year contract, with the money going straight into delivering patient care.
An annual increase in charges takes place as part of the contract. During 2009/10, patients and visitors will be asked to pay an additional 10p for any visits lasting up to and over six hours, or an extra 20p for a weekly pass. Staff will also need to pay an additional 10p a day.
20 free, short stay "drop-off" points will continue to be made available around the site for people visiting for up to 20 minutes.
The new charges have traditionally been introduced on 1 July, but have been postponed until August this year to ensure everyone can be fully informed of the change well in advance. In addition, the hospital has pledged to draw up a travel plan looking at long term need to help plan effectively for the future.
"We appreciate that some people view car parking charges as a cause of concern," said Chris Bown, trust chief executive. "As a result, VINCI have taken the current financial climate into consideration to make sure the maximum increase is no more than 10p a day.
"We will also continue to provide free drop off points and information about the discounts offered to frequent visitors or those with special circumstances through our car parking leaflets, both of which have proved extremely popular since their introduction last year."
Work on the travel plan will begin during the next few weeks, with patients, visitors and staff all asked to take part in an extensive survey giving details of how they travel to the site, where they travel from and how often.
The information will be used to plan how best to manage car parking in the future, and will also look at alternative modes of transport, such as buses and bikes.
"We are keen to do everything we can to encourage people to explore alternative modes of transport as the amount of parking available at the hospital is limited due to the layout of the site," added Mr Bown.
"We carry out a full review of our car parks every year to look at where we could make changes to ease congestion and relieve pressure on spaces. Following this year's review, VINCI have committed to employing a new member of staff to help direct traffic around the site at peak times, which should help those traveling by car to find a space as quickly as possible.
"Over the coming months, we will also start developing a long-term travel plan for the site, which will encourage a movement away from single occupancy car journeys to more sustainable modes of transport. We will be carrying out a survey and would be grateful if everyone using the hospital during this time could answer a short questionnaire to help us plan effectively for the future."