08:00 Monday 15 April 2013

Charges for disabled are blatantly unfair - MP

Written byRICH GUTTRIDGE

BURTON’S MP has launched a scathing attack on the town’s Queen’s Hospital over its controversial decision to introduce parking charges for the disabled, revealing he is to launch a campaign in a bid to stop it.

Hospital chiefs came under fire when it was revealed in February that the charges were to be brought in for blue badge holders and now MP Andrew Griffiths has waded into the row, calling the policy ‘blatantly unfair’.

The hospital insisted the changes were introduced to make the parking system fair for everyone and to ensure that the ‘creation and maintenance’ of parking spaces did not impact on finances needed to fund patient care.

But a furious Mr Griffiths told the Mail: “I have major concerns about the impact this is going to have on disabled people at the hospital.”

Mr Griffiths said he was in the process of developing a ‘big campaign’.

He continued: “It seems to me to be blatantly unfair. It’s free to park everywhere else but are being made to pay at the hospital when they need it most. It just seems perverse.

“For the amount of money it’s going to raise for the hospital I would be interested to know whether it would be worth the upset and aggravation caused.”

The hospital insists that the changes, which also include the relocation of the disabled spaces closer to the entrance, have had a positive impact.

Geoff Neild, head of facilities, said “We recognise that the introduction of charges for blue badge holders is a sensitive and contentious issue.

“A positive outcome of the changes is that there are now sufficient allocated blue badge spaces available at most times of the day. Those with genuine mobility and access issues should now more routinely be able to secure an allocated space close to the hospital.”

However, Adrian Wedgwood, of Barton under Needwood, a regular at hospital board meetings, struggled to find any positives from the changes.

He said: “It’s not the impression I get. They weren’t that far away from the entrance anyway and nobody else went into that car park. The fact that they are slightly nearer really is academic.”

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