Friday, 19 July 2019

Parking firm told to go immediately

Parking firm told to go immediately

A COMPANY which was effectively fired from enforcing the car park at Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley was told this week to leave with “immediate effect”.

Smart Parking lost its contract at the hospital off York Road in August but remained while a successor was found.

On Wednesday, the company was told to remove its equipment, including cameras and signs, and leave.

NHS Property Services, which owns the site, is negotiating a contract with a national car parking management provider to run all health service car parks across the country.

It will employ an interim provider for the Townlands car park until a deal has been agreed.

A spokesman for NHS Property Services said: “We can confirm that Smart Parking will be vacating Townlands Memorial Hospital with immediate effect and will be removing their equipment from the hospital site.

“In the meantime, NHS Property Services is working with a different car parking management contractor to provide an interim solution, while we finalise and announce our national long-term provider.

“We are hopeful of having the new long-term solution in place soon, which will be developed in conjunction with stakeholders to ensure parking is in the interest of patients, staff, and visitors.”

Smart Parking had faced repeated calls to be sacked from Townlands following scores of complaints by patients and their relatives about unfair fines, as highlighted by the Henley Standard’s Not Very Smart Parking campaign.

Smart had already lost its contract to monitor the car park for the neighbouring Bell and Hart surgeries following scores of similar complaints.

In August the then health minister Stephen Barclay announced that a new nationwide contractor would be appointed and Townlands would be transferred to it “in due course”.

Smart Parking uses automatic number plate recognition cameras to log vehicles using the hospital car park.

Visitors have to enter their car registration number using a keypad at reception to receive free parking but many patients, some of them elderly, were issued with parking fines of up to £160 despite following the rules.

Smart was fired from a similar arrangement at Aldershot Centre for Health in May and from Westgate Park shopping centre in Basildon earlier this year.

Valerie Moncur, whose husband Alastair was fined after visiting the hospital in March last year, said she was pleased to see Smart go.

The couple, from Sonning, parked in a disabled space, displaying their blue badge, and stayed at the hospital for about half an hour to test some hearing aids as they were leaving for a cruise the next day.

Two weeks later, they received a penalty notice.

Mrs Moncur said: “Frankly it put us off using Townlands a bit. We may start going back now.”

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