Stricter parking but no clamping at Altnagelvin

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The Western Trust has ditched plans to clamp drivers who park illegally in the grounds of Altnagelvin Hospital, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

At yesterday’s monthly meeting of the Western Trust Board, members approved new revised car parking procedures for both the Derry hospital and the South Western Acute Hospital.

For a first offence illegal parkers will be issued with a parking notice, and for a second offence drivers will be fined £40 (which will be reduced to £20 if paid within 14 days.)

Drivers who are found blocking a blue light route or parking in an ambulance bay will be towed away, however the Trust was told yesterday that this had only happened once in the past six years. Drivers who consistently park illegally in disabled bays could also face have their vehicle towed away. However clamping at the hospital will no longer take place.

Trust board members were told yesterday that the majority of complaints about parking in Altnagelvin concerned the abuse of disabled parking spaces while 30% of complaints concerned the lack of parking spaces available.

Western Trust chairman Gerard Guckian said he had concerns that if an outside contractor was operating the new parking arrangements, there could be a danger of profiteering.

“We could not tolerate that,” he said. “Patients and staff need to be dealt with in a respectful way. We could not have any notion of a cowboy outfit.”

However William Doran, Assistant Director of Facilities said the contract element of the new parking arrangements was widely used by other Trusts. The recommendation was made that the Trust adopt a mixed management contract in partnership with a contracted licenced operator.Mr Doran said that this would mean that the Trust remained in control of management decision making.

He said the recommendation was that the contract would not be one that incentivises additional charges.

The new parking restrictions will be enforced at the parking areas closest to the hospital building and will not affect parking at the north east end of the site. However they will take in all disabled spaces which the Trust say will be protected.

The estimated cost of the new parking regulations is estimated to be £165,000 per annum, compared to the current car parking cost of £86,000 per year. However the Trust was told that because the new parking restrictions will result in better utilisation of existing paid for spaces in the hospital, the extra cost would be neutral.