Parking permit scheme sparks safety concerns

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A CONTROVERSIAL permit scheme introduced by Doncaster Council means its staff are having to walk to isolated areas of town for their vehicles, claims unions.

Unison official Jim Board has raised concerns over the safety of lone females in the early hours of the morning or late at night.

The scheme, first mooted 18 months ago and now implemented, means employees no longer have free council parking spots and need to buy annual permits for £300.

Mr Board said: “A lot of our members that use cars for work have refused to buy permits and are leaving their vehicles at home or parking elsewhere, or using pool cars.

“The members have already had their mileage cut and they don’t think they should also have to pay for parking as well.”

He estimates about 2,000 council staff are affected by the scheme.

Mr Board said: “It does mean a significant number of people have been displaced from the town centre.

“We have serious concerns about the Chappell Drive car park, situated behind the new college, for the safety of employees walking back to the car park late at night or early in the morning

Simon Wiles, council director of finance and corporate services, said there had been a “strong response rate” with 766 staff applications for permits or daily scratch cards.

He said: “Alternative options were made available for staff to consider for getting to and from work which included public transport, cycling, walking and car sharing and we have noticed many more staff are using these options.

“The council’s fleet of pool cars have also proved popular for staff carrying out work related journeys.

“The Chappell Drive car park is patrolled daily by parking services, is well lit and benefits from two CCTV cameras which should give users peace of mind. Further improvements are also planned with the car park set to benefit from a surface refurbishment and a perimeter fence next to Chappell Drive.”

Mr Wiles said that next month a further 31 permits will be issued to NHS staff who are relocating to work with council colleagues into the new Civic Office.

Pending any cancellations, that would mean by the end of 2012 there will be 797 staff being part of the staff parking scheme.