Hos­pi­tal tight-lipped on park­ing firm cash

Macclesfield Express - - FIGHT TO SAVE A&E - STUART GREER

HOS­PI­TAL bosses are re­fus­ing to say how much pub­lic money is being spent on the firm which man­ages its park­ing.

East Cheshire NHS Trust, which runs Mac­cles­field Hos­pi­tal, has an agreement with Park­ingEye to elec­tron­i­cally record the reg­is­tra­tion plate of ve­hi­cles en­ter­ing and leav­ing the site and use the data to en­force park­ing penal­ties.

As part of the con­tro­ver­sial four-year deal, health chiefs pay the VAT on all fines.

But de­spite a num­ber of re­quests for the data un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act, in­clud­ing one from the Ex­press, the Trust re­fuses to say how much pub­lic cash has been paid to Park­ingEye.

Health chiefs say it’s be­cause it would en­able com­peti­tors to work out the firm’s in­come from the con­tract.

An ap­peal to the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sion’s Of­fice, the Gov­ern­ment data pri­vacy watch­dog, was re­jected on the grounds dis­clo­sure would give ri­val park­ing firms a com­mer­cial ad­van­tage.

But a for­mer mayor and Hon­orary Al­der­man Roger West, who him­self was fined un­der the con­tro­ver­sial scheme, has slammed the de­ci­sion as ‘in­ex­cus­able’.

Mr West, who lives in Poyn­ton, was tick­eted af­ter drop­ping off his el­derly neigh­bour at the hos­pi­tal.

He said: “The cur­rent sys­tem is not in the spirit of what the hos­pi­tal is there for. We know park- ing man­age­ment is needed, I sup­port that, but this sys­tem is not user friendly. It’s ap­palling that pub­lic money is being spent on the sys­tem but the pub­lic is not al­lowed to know how much. Health ser­vices should be trans­par­ent, whiter than white. This is in­ex­cus­able.”

A spokesman for the hos­pi­tal said in­for­ma­tion about VAT has not been shared un­der com­mer­cial con­fi­dence ex­emp­tions in its legally bind­ing con­tract with Park­ingEye.

She added: “The trust recog­nises that park­ing is dif­fi­cult given the vol­ume of cars and limited spaces. This was the rea­son for the in­tro­duc­tion of a park­ing man­age­ment sys­tem. The ma­jor­ity of vis­i­tors pay for and park their car with­out any prob­lems. Where vis­i­tors have been un­able to pay at the ma­chines we ask they high­light this to de­part­men­tal staff that can help in ur­gent cir­cum­stances.

“If users re­ceive cor­re­spon­dence from Park­ingEye we rec­om­mend they use the ap­pro­pri­ate ap­peals process and strongly ad­vise them not to ig­nore any letters.”

Park­ingEye has been con­tacted for a com­ment.

Mac­cles­field Hos­pi­tal and Roger West (in­set), who is ap­palled that the pub­lic are not being told how much pub­lic money is being paid to Park­ingEye

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