Friday, 19 August 2022

More drivers caught by hospital cameras

MORE residents say they have been given parking tickets for driving through the Townlands Memorial Hospital campus in Henley.

The drivers, who include a borough councillor and a former police crime prevention officer, all say they have been penalised unfairly as they didn’t stop or use the hospital car park.

Last week, the Henley Standard reported that at least seven people had been issued with a £60 fixed penalty notice after using the one-way system at the hospital off York Road and being caught by CCTV cameras monitoring the car park.

They included a man who received two notices, one which claimed that he had re-entered the car park from York Road just two seconds after the other one said he had left via Clarence Road.

The notices claimed that the drivers had spent up to four hours at a time in the car park but the drivers say that the cameras failed to record them leaving, meaning that they were photographed again when they returned, so the system thought they had been in the car park the whole time.

The car park is enforced by Smart Parking, which recently lost its contract to do the same at the car park at the neighbouring Bell and Hart Surgeries following repeated complaints by patients about incorrect fines.

People visiting the hospital can enter their registration details on a keypad at reception to receive free parking and there is meant to be a
20-minute grace period for those passing through or dropping off patients.

Among the latest people to be fined are Sue Yonker, from Harpsden, who was fined after driving through the site twice while picking up a friend for lunch on September 22.

Mrs Yonker, a retired ballet dancer, collected Sally Stock from her home in York Road at about 1pm before going through the hospital grounds while heading for the Crooked Billet restaurant in Stoke Row.

When they returned at about 5pm she did the same thing, leading the system to believe she had stayed at the car park for more than four hours. Despite appealing the notice with a copy of her receipt from the pub, Smart Parking upheld the fine.

Mrs Yonker said: “I was totally amazed when I got the notice. How can I be in two places at once?

“I immediately wrote them an appeal letter and assumed they would refund it but was amazed when they said they would uphold it.”

John Halsall, from Remenham, was fined twice for alleged offences just seconds apart on the same day last month.

Mr Halsall, a member of Remenham and Wargrave parish councils and Wokingham Borough Council, visited a resident in York Road three times on September 27, driving through the hospital site each time.

He says the cameras captured him entering and leaving the site just twice, including returning via York Road on the second occasion just 30 seconds after leaving via Clarence Road, which he says is impossible.

Mr Halsall said: “I was incensed to receive the fine, particularly given the support I’ve given to Townlands over the years.

“No one at the hospital is capable of dealing with it and we wrote to the company but had no reply.

“This means people in York Road have to do a three-point turn to avoid going through the hospital and if there’s an ambulance or something behind them it will have to wait. York Road is not equipped for two-way traffic.

“It’s outrageous that a community service should use a company which is so aggressive and wrong.”

Julia Wheeler, who lives in King’s Road with her partner Ron Williamson, received two parking notices in the post shortly before going on holiday to Spain in September.

She says the first notice claimed she had spent almost an hour at the hospital car park only to return via the York Road entrance just 14 seconds later and then stay for another eight hours.

In fact, Ms Wheeler drives through the site several times a day looking for a parking space near her home.

She said: “I never park there. Because the roads are very narrow on York Road and Clarence Road I often drive round looking for a space. I can do that three or four times a day, depending on work.

“I was pretty furious to get two tickets. I didn’t understand why they didn’t have the corresponding pictures of me leaving the site.”

Ms Wheeler, who took part in a march through Henley in support of retaining hospital beds at Townlands in 2015, said she had spoken to a contractor for Smart Parking at the site, who told her the cameras were faulty.

She said: “It’s ridiculous and they are surely not going to continue with this company. Lots of my neighbours have got tickets.

“They cancelled my tickets but didn’t apologise. At the end of the day it can happen again and I’ve spoken to neighbours who are now not happy to drive through the site.

“People are going to start blocking the road trying to turn around and that’s a bad situation. The hospital should have nothing to do with them.”

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