Parking issues around Barnsley hospital

24 01 2013
 

Barnsley Council’s Physical Sustainability Scrutiny Commission met on Thursday 24th January to discuss parking issues around Barnsley hospital. This follows the request from Old Town’s Coun Penny Lofts for a ‘call for action‘ to investigate this issue. Prior to the meeting, members of the commission had paid a visit to the area on 20th December to see the problem first hand.

Coun Lofts reported: “Residents in these areas are predominantly elderly and vulnerable.  The incidents of road rage type confrontations between drivers and residents are increasing.

“Essential services such as waste collection and access for emergency services are being denied to residents.”

Witnesses

Several witnesses were called to discuss the issue. The highways engineers confirmed that residential parking schemes would not be an answer as austerity prevented any future schemes.  A typical scheme would cost approximately £100K.  Residents’ parking schemes had worked well but had led to parking migration. [If Warner Road were to become residents only, Penine Way would probably inherit hospital parking].

An assistant director from the hospital trust informed the meeting that the it had invested £2M in additional parking spaces since 2007. Compared with similar-sized trusts, it has a higher percentage of parking spaces. Any further expenditure on car parking would take money away from direct patient care. She stated that 3000 staff worked at the hospital, 1400 of these had permits for parking on site in 580 staff spaces.

The local police inspector reported that, in 2012, the police had dealt with 46 incidents related to parking in the area. 37 of the incidents were for inconsiderate parking. Six offences of criminal damage were reported. However, officers received regular complaints from residents. However, she suspected that lots went unreported.

Councillors’ discussion

The councillors then discussed the issue. It was suggested that the various geographical areas around the hospital might have different groups parking there. On Summer Lane, parking problems might be caused by parents dropping off children at the schools or by employees from the council offices.  It wasn’t necessarily hospital workers who were responsible. [The four local residents present were pretty certain that the parking on Warner Road, West Road and Cresswell Street was predominatly hospital workers].

Coun Davies suggested that the commission currently lacked sufficient data to make a decision.  He proposed that data be collected to determine the extent of the problem. He felt that this would not be too resource-heavy to collect as the community in Pogmoor might pitch in to help. Another councillor summed this up – We need to know the size of the problem and know who to target.

There was discussion as to why the previous minibus service to hospital had ceased.

A couple of councillors came at the problem from a different perspective. One wondered whether those residents without a car might join a rent-a-drive scheme and allow a hospital worker to park at their house. The other mentioned a way that the private sector might contribute to the issue.  The former Remploy site on West Road has been left  idle for a period of years.  Could this land-owner make this land available temporarily for parking?

Resulting action

The public were asked to leave after the discussion and the commission’s decision was made in-camera.

Coun Davies emailed on 25th January to inform us that the decision was to collect data to understand the size of the parking issue.

Coun Davies writes;

“The aim IS to gather evidence and to establish both the breadth and depth of the issues, so can I urge residents to send me (or indeed you, the PARA or whoever you feel appropriate), any details of any incidents as they occur (with photos if possible). …..

My aim is to generate an accurate picture of the problems and only THEN, go back to the Scrutiny Commission with form proposals that address these issues. It became clear yesterday that there are many anecdotes flying around, but not much data.

As always I’m happy to support the residents in any way they wish, and my suggestions are merely for their consideration. Please advise on your/their preferred way forward.”

What do you think should happen?

Should the residents’ parking scheme be extended even though this might simply move the parking problem to adjacent streets?

Do we know the extent of the problem? Do we know whether it is hospital workers, hospital visitors or employees of other firms who park in our streets?

Would you be willing to let a hospital worker park outside your house to spread hospital parking through our area?

Please let us know your views.  Just add your comments to this page.

Concluding remarks

This was an interesting meeting.  It discussed a real issue affecting our community.  The hospital witness told us that 1600 of the people who work in the hospital do not have an on-site parking space.  Perhaps the hospital could survey a sample of these to determine how many of them drive to work and are parking in the locality.  It is possible that a combination of actions will be required to reduce the parking issue.

We all realise that austerity measures make it difficult for the council to extend the residents’ scheme or the hospital to build a new staff car park in Pogmoor or elsewhere.  Would a more community-based solution provide the answer?  The current problem is caused by a concentration of parking in a few streets in the area.  Can we encourage the hospital workers to spread out over a slightly wider area?  If we could match hospital staff wanting a day-time car space in Pogmoor/Gawber with those residents who are willing to allow  a named nurse, doctor or other hospital worker to park outside their house, would this improve our relationships with hospital and clear up the current parking issue.

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