Saturday, 23 October 2021

Parking cameras fight

Parking cameras fight

DISTRICT councillors have pledged to fight a planning application for three cameras used to enforce parking rules at Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley in an effort to force out the controversial scheme.

Last week, the Henley Standard revealed that the cameras at the site off York Road have been operating without planning permission since they were installed more than a year ago.

Campaigners have since branded the system invalid and called for fines issued at the car park to be rescinded or reimbursed.

The car park is monitored by enforcement company Smart Parking, which uses the automatic numberplate recognition cameras to log drivers entering and leaving the site.

But the firm, which has faced repeated calls to be axed from the site, has only now applied for retrospective planning permission for the cameras, two of which are used to monitor the hospital car park and one at the neighbouring Chilterns Court Care Centre.

It means that the cameras were not approved by planning authority South Oxfordshire District Council before being installed in April last year.

Henley’s three district councillors have joined calls for NHS Property Services, which owns the hospital, to cancel their contract with Smart Parking.

Councillor Lorraine Hillier, chairwoman of the council, said: “They are going to get it but I personally think NHS Property Services should make them quit. They are very fortunate that we have a retrospective planning option because they haven’t given that same opportunity to those poor people who have been fined.”

Councillor Joan Bland added: “This company is obviously incompetent and causing a great deal of distress. I know they have to control parking up there but it’s just not working.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak added: “They should come up with a better scheme.”

No enforcement action can be taken at the site unless the application is refused. The application is likely to be decided by the council’s planning officers but could be “called in” to the full planning committee.

The application for the cameras was submitted by Smart Parking last month and also requests permission for 20 poles at the site, two of which are used for cameras and 18 for signs detailing the parking rules.

A separate application has been made for a total of 28 new signs. The district council is due to make a decision on both next month.

More News:

POLL: Have your say