Concerns have been raised about parking charges at Crawley Hospital which could see patients facing a £25 bill if they have to leave there cars for a long while.
Crawley Borough Council has been asked to ensure procedures are put in place so those stuck at the hospital for treatment for an extended period are not financially penalised.
The council took over the management of the hospital car park on Wednesday (April 1) and immediately freed up 40 spaces by offering staff parking at the Orchard Street multi-storey car park.
While the extra spaces were welcomed, the matter of parking charges was raised at a meeting of the West Crawley County Local Committee on March 17.
The charges themselves have not changed – £1 per hour up to £5, then £25 for half a day – but until now, little or no effort has been made to enforce them. As a result, the car park has been full from very early in the morning, with cars being left all day by commuters keen to take advantaged of what had been a “free” space.
Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate & Crawley Central) told the meeting the issue was “concerning” and called for the £5 for five hours to be the maximum the council could charge.
Cllr Brenda Smith (Lab, Langley Green) added: “The people this is going to affect are people who are visiting a sick child or relative – and they shouldn’t be penalised.
“I think £25 is extortionate unless there is an agreement to refund the money if they are a patient or relative.
“We can’t possibly have that sort of charge.”
Following a question from a member of the public, the committee agreed to pass on the idea of introducing an area of short-term parking for people who just wanted to drop off or pick up a patient.
A council spokesman said: “Patients attending the hospital for regular treatment of long-term illnesses and those attending the Saturn Centre would need to request a free parking permit from the hospital so they can park without worrying about the expiry time on a pay and display ticket. All other cases will be dealt with on their individual circumstances. Anyone attending an appointment which overruns would have an acceptable case for challenging any Penalty Charge Notice given to them.”