Wednesday, 22 May 2019

New hospital car park operator to be appointed soon, says NHS

THE appointment of a new contractor to run the car park at Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley is said to be imminent.

NHS Property Services, which owns the site, says it is in the process of signing a contract with a national car parking management provider to operate its car parks across the country.

These include the one at the hospital off York Road, which is still run by Smart Parking despite the firm being effectively sacked in August.

NHS Property Services says it hopes to announce the identity of the new firm “soon”. A spokesman said: “Once the position is agreed, we will be able to formally advise local users about the proposed changes, including communicating the go live date.”

The Townlands Steering Group will work with NHS Property Services on the new parking arrangements.

Town councillor Ian Reissmann, who chairs the group, said he wanted to ensure parking worked in the interests of patients, staff and residents.

He said: “Now we are assured that the appointment of the new operator is imminent and that we will soon be working with it on the new scheme.”

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.

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