LETTER: Confusion in hospital carpark

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Last month, we were excited to be visiting Crawley Hospital for my wife’s 20-week scan to check our baby’s health and discover whether we were having a boy or girl.

We parked up, paid for the full hour’s ticket, entered the maternity ward and were seen immediately. We delighted as the sonographer showed us images of our baby rolling around and told us we were expecting a girl.

On leaving the hospital 20 minutes later, we were met with a Penalty Charge Notice issued by Crawley Borough Council for “85 Parked in a permit bay without clearly displaying a valid permit”.

It was only on closer inspection that I noticed the minute signs advising the bays were Permit Holder Only, set back from the road so as not clearly relating to the carriageway and at a height not immediately visible when reversing into the space (as we’re told to do so by the Highway Code).

There were no road markings nor any warnings of this restriction at the Pay and Display Machine (see picture, this page), and in my opinion has intentionally been made confusing so as to catch-out the unsuspecting motorist who, as is invariably the case when visiting a hospital, has pressing matters on their mind.

I immediately appealed to Crawley Borough Council and followed up with an email, given their online form doesn’t allow for images to be supplied in support of any defence.

I received no response for 2 weeks so chased up CBC, only to be advised I would receive a decision the following day. A week later I received a letter rejecting the appeal and restating the original infringement, which in no way addressed any of the points raised.

Unfortunately, it is far easier to pay the fine than continue to challenge their judgement, especially given I have yet to receive anything other than a template reply. Instead, I hope to warn other parents to be and hospital users to be wary if they elect to use Crawley Hospital of this hidden threat which contravenes Parking Signage Regulation. Surely, if there’s ever a case for clear, unambiguous signage, it should be outside a hospital?!

Paul Sterrett

Forge Wood, Crawley

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A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council responded:

We have apologised to Mr Sterrett for the unsatisfactory response he was given and cancelled the penalty charge notice. Our response didn’t address all of the points he raised; this was an error which has been addressed for the future.

There is sufficient signage in the car park, all of which conforms to regulations. There is no requirement to have any road markings indicating that it is a permit bay (we don’t have road markings on any on-street permit bays).

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