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Princess Alexandra Hospital urges disabled drivers to appeal against its parking fines

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An NHS trust says that blue badge holders who received parking fines at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) can appeal following a public outcry over poor signage.

Bishop’s Stortford residents who were penalised for failing to pay and display while legitimately parking in disabled bays at PAH in Harlow have contacted the Indie disgusted that they were targeted in the first place.

They criticised the PAH NHS Trust’s decision to charge blue badge holders for parking following introduction of an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system and highlighted how inadequate signs meant many people did not even realise that the new rule applied.

Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow. GVs. Gate 1 - Hamstel Road entrance. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (30684855)
Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow. GVs. Gate 1 - Hamstel Road entrance. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (30684855)

Stortford resident and former Little Hadham Primary School headteacher Liz Stockley voiced her concerns after her 91-year-old father-in-law, Leonard, received a £60 fine while attending a hospital appointment.

“There were no signs that we could see, certainly nothing near or obvious to the disabled parking bays, and I just think it’s totally wrong,” said Mrs Stockley, of Castle Street.

“In 20 years of having three relatives with blue badges, I’ve never come across having to pay for a disabled parking bay, it’s always been an exemption.”

Chloe Evans revealed via a post on the town civic federation’s Facebook page that her 80-year-old mother had also been fined. She too blamed insufficient signage and said the introduction of the ‘parking eye’ was “disgusting”.

In a letter appealing the fine, she wrote: “My elderly mother is disabled and was taking my elderly father for an appointment at the eye unit. As there was no parking charge signage by the disabled bays she was unaware that she had to pay. Due to her disability she would have been unable to walk the distance needed to find the nearest parking signage...given that it is about 50 yards from where she was parked.”

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Michael Meredith, director of strategy and estates for the PAH NHS Trust, said: “In line with national guidelines, fair-for-all not free-for-all principles for sustainable car parking, and consultation and agreement with our patient panel, we have introduced car parking charges for blue badge holders.

“We provide a large number of bays for blue badge holders which are positioned close to entrances. Blue badge holders can still claim reduced rate or free parking for visiting for end-of-life care, chemotherapy, palliative care or when visiting the labour ward or neonatal intensive care unit.”

He added: “In response to feedback from patients and visitors, we are revising the signage for blue badge users. Those who have received a fine can appeal it using the information on the penalty notice issued. We apologise for any concern caused as we seek to make our parking arrangements fair for all our visitors.”

Blue badge holders can still park for free at Herts & Essex Community Hospital in Bishop’s Stortford.

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