Hospital chiefs in Lynn have come in for new criticism over changes to their parking arrangements, which some critics have called “shameful.”
Plans to charge disabled people to park at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) were attacked by campaigners when details first emerged in February.
But a new row has broken out over the trust’s decision to move disabled parking provision at the Gayton Road site to create 20 minute drop-off areas near the main entrance.
Questions were raised on the subject at Thursday’s West Norfolk Council meeting, as the authority successfully tendered for the contract to administer and enforce the new rules.
Members of the ruling Conservative administration insisted the council did not have any input into the decision to move the disabled spaces.
But, though he acknowledged the new layout would help some visitors, Labour’s Ian Gourlay suggested priorities were misplaced.
He said: “The needs of the disabled are more important than the needs of the fit.”
He added it was “unfair” that disabled people now had to pay to park at the hospital. Under the new regime, blue badge holders have to pay a flat £2 fee.
Margaret Wilkinson added: “It does seem rather shameful to take away all those disabled parking bays and have them for 20 minute drop-offs.”
Council leader Nick Daubney said: “We really cannot be expected to answer on behalf of the NHS.”
But Mrs Wilkinson replied: “I thought we sat on this council to represent all people. I am raising an issue on behalf of all residents.”
Following the meeting, QEH chief executive Dorothy Hosein said: “The needs of all hospital users are taken into consideration when decisions are made about car parking.
“In this instance it was felt that the benefits of creating additional drop-off spaces outweighed the loss of disabled parking in that area.
“There are 66 disabled spaces on site, all located as close as practicable to the entrances.
“Unfortunately there is insufficient space at the front of the hospital to create any further parking.
“A blue badge does not automatically entitle the holder to free parking. What it does is ensure easy access parking as close as possible to the hospital.
“The Trust board set a fee of £2 for 24 hours in recognition of the fact that blue badge holders may need additional time to attend appointments.
“This charge makes parking fairer for all and blue badge holders on means-tested incomes will be able to claim the money back.”