Councillor condemns King’s Lynn hospital parking charge plans

GV of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital , King's Lynn
GV of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital , King's Lynn
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Plans to charge disabled people to park at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital have been condemned as a “disgraceful tax” on the vulnerable.

Last week, managers announced plans to reform parking fees at the Gayton Road site in a move they maintain will reduce costs for most patients and visitors.

But disability rights campaigners criticised the trust for planning to impose a flat £2 fee on blue badge holders, who currently do not have to pay.

And they have now been backed by local county councillor Alexandra Kemp, who has demanded a rethink.

She said: “This will directly affect my disabled constituents and is a disgraceful tax on disability. It must not happen.”

Trust officials say the plan, which has still to be ratified by Norfolk County Council, is intended to reduce congestion around the site and is not intended to penalise disabled patients and visitors.

Trust chairman Edward Libbey said yesterday: “We welcome feedback from both patients and the wider community and thank Cllr Kemp for raising her concerns.

“The Borough Council of King’s Lynn &West Norfolk are holding public consultations over the proposed changes to our parking tariff and we would encourage as many people as possible to participate in this.”

But Miss Kemp claims the measure will also require current parking meters to be replaced by ones which are accessible for disabled users.

She said: “This is a needless cost which would be borne by service users.”

However, Mr Libbey rejected the suggestion, saying: “As part of our commitment to improve all aspects of patient experience, we are currently in the process of upgrading our parking meters so visitors are able to pay with a bank card.

“Some of the new meters are being placed in locations, and at a height, where they are easily accessible by those with mobility issues.

“There is therefore no additional cost to the Trust in providing adequate payment facilities for blue badge holders.”

Under the plans, the minimum time drivers can pay to stay for would be reduced from three hours to two.

Officials also intend to charge a pound for each hour a motorist stays for. They say that will encourage people to leave the site more promptly after their appointments and reduce congestion.

If approved, the new charging regime is expected to come into force on April 1.