Hos­pi­tal park­ing charges take their toll

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - NI­CHOLAS MCBRIDE

Palmer­ston North Hos­pi­tal pa­tients are tak­ing a hit to the hip pocket as they pay to park in hos­pi­tal grounds.

Mean­while, hos­pi­tal staff are dodg­ing their pay-for car parks by leav­ing their ve­hi­cles on nearby streets where park­ing is free.

Of­fi­cials are try­ing to find a so­lu­tion to the prob­lem clog­ging sur­round­ing streets and frus­trat­ing pa­tients and res­i­dents alike.

A park­ing time limit has been tri­alled in some streets and the Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil has plans to ex­tend this.

The hos­pi­tal has sug­gested ex­tend­ing free park­ing from 30 min­utes to 40 min­utes and of­fer­ing in­cen­tives for staff not to park on the street.

Palmer­ston North woman Lau­ren Gil­lies es­ti­mated she spent $60 a week on park­ing at the hos­pi­tal, while re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for a post-op­er­a­tion wound.

She of­ten had to leave dur­ing the day and re­turn to hos­pi­tal later, so was hit twice by the park­ing fees.

She did not think ex­tend­ing free time by 10 min­utes would see much change, es­pe­cially when pa­tients could not choose how long they were at hos­pi­tal.

‘‘When you go to ED it is un­ex­pected, but they don’t let you off.’’

Ron­gopai St res­i­dent Allan Lovell said his street be­came a ‘‘prime tar­get’’ be­cause peo­ple could park there all day.

‘‘The street looks like a car park.’’

Peo­ple even parked on the yel­low lines at peak times.

He was dis­ap­pointed a large staff park­ing area was go­ing unutilised.

Lovell said most peo­ple would ex­pect to be able to park out­side their own home.

‘‘The most in­fu­ri­at­ing thing is when you go out for 15 min­utes, and come back and your space is gone.’’

Coun­cil se­nior trans­porta­tion en­gi­neer Glenn Con­nelly said they had tried to ‘‘make it fair for ev­ery­one’’ by of­fer­ing both long and short-term park­ing.

Two-hour park­ing lim­its were in­tro­duced on Florence Ave with pos­i­tive feed­back from res­i­dents and lit­tle neg­a­tive feed­back from com­muters, Con­nelly said.

‘‘Res­i­dents can also ap­ply for a free per­mit to ex­empt them from the time limit.‘‘

The coun­cil planned to do this in other high-use streets around the hos­pi­tal, The Plaza and the IRD.

MUR­RAY WIL­SON/FAIRFAX NZ

Pa­tients and res­i­dents are suf­fer­ing as a re­sult of Palmer­ston North Hos­pi­tal’s park­ing prob­lems.

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