FINES for parking in ‘prohibited areas’ around Sheffield’s hospitals are set to more than double - despite a chronic shortage of spaces.
Vehicles are clamped with a £25 release fee but from Monday, October 1, a new company, Liberty Parking Services, is taking over enforcement.
Although offending motorists will no longer find their cars clamped, the contractor will be issuing £60 parking tickets, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.
Trade union Unison, which represents a large number of hospital staff, said there is particular concern at the Northern General Hospital in Fir Vale.
Charlie Carruth, regional organiser for the union, said: “This is a terrible proposal and will impact adversely on staff and patients and their visitors. £60 is a big fine, particularly as a so-called prohibited area could be parking slightly outside the parking bays, not blocking an access route.
“This deals with the symptoms but not the problem of insufficient car parking around the Northern General, which is what we should be looking at.
“This change will cause hardship to low-paid staff struggling to find an appropriate space.”
One Northern General worker, who declined to be named, said: “It’s a nightmare to park as things are and people sometimes end up parking in somewhere that isn’t a marked space because there is no alternative.
“Depending upon the time of your shift you sometimes can’t get here by public transport.”
Members of the public parking at the hospital criticised the huge increase in fines.
Jim Glasby, aged 64, from Darnall, who was visiting a relative, said: “It seems wrong. It can take a long while to find a space, sometimes I’ve driven around for 20 minutes.”
Fellow visitor Jacqueline Taylor, aged 55, a sales assistant from Gleadless, said: “It’s a ridiculous and disgusting increase. How can they justify it?”
Residents in surrounding areas feared the increased fines could mean even more people parking in their streets.
Farid Hussein, aged 40, a taxi driver who lives on Idsworth Road, close to the Northern General’s Barnsley Road entrance, said: “On weekdays, you often can’t find spaces outside your home as things are.
“This change could mean more people parking there for the hospital and will make life worse.”
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals was planning to tackle the shortage of spaces at the Northern General with a new multi-storey car park, but the plans have been put on hold due to shortage of funds.
The trust declined to say how much money has been raised through parking fines in the last year.
However, a spokesman said it has provided 200 additional car parking spaces at the Northern General over the last 12 months.
The new fines will apply at all the trust’s sites, which also include the Royal Hallamshire, Weston Park, Charles Clifford and the Jessop Wing.
Neil Thompson, the trust’s manager for hotel services, said: “There are some people who simply choose not to park responsibly, don’t pay and in some cases even block access for emergency vehicles.
“Therefore, some means of enforcement is essential. We will have an appeal process in place with an independent arbitrator if needed.
“Signs will be put up before October 1 in all car parks to provide information about the changes.
“Money from fines will be reinvested into NHS care.”