WORRIES of parking problems around Barnsley Hospital have resurfaced as free staff parking introduced at the height of the pandemic has been pulled by the government.
Residents in Gawber and Pogmoor have long aired their grievances over staff and visitors inconsiderately parking outside their homes - which led to the granting of several traffic regulation orders (TROs) late last year.
Parking charges for hospital staff, patients and visitors were temporarily lifted in April 2020, then reintroduced for the latter two groups in October last year due to the ‘cost of security and maintenance’.
And the government announced on Friday that staff would no longer benefit from the concession - and face spending hundreds of pounds a year out of their wages to park at the site.
Last week, a long-awaited proposal for a park-and-ride scheme was put forward by a cross-party task and finish group and is to be investigated by Barnsley Council.
Old Town Coun Clive Pickering - who was one of six members of the group - said: “Parking around the hospital is a serious issue with no short-term solution.”
The traffic regulation orders (TROs) were granted for Warner Road, Pennine Way, Cotswold Close, Hambleton Close, Mendip Close, Grampian Way and Malvern Close, and prevent traffic from waiting at any time on those roads.
“It takes so long to get a TRO up and running and in force, and it costs several thousands of pounds,” added Coun Pickering.
“That’s not just for the TRO, it’s to deal with objections.
“It’s been going on since the hospital was built.
“We’ve got to be realistic - the parking problem is not going to go away and affects both staff and patients.
“The solution is a park-and-ride, but it’s not going to solve the free parking issue.
“I feel for both sides, for my constituents who don’t want people parking outside their homes, and for staff because it’s a lot of money to come out of their wage.”
Coun Phil Lofts added: “There are 3,500 people working at the hospital plus probably the same again in visitors and patients.
“Some staff park free-of-charge, but that’s common courtesy - the sort of thing you want to be able to expect.
“The park-and-ride plan has been virtually blown out of the water after the government chose not to finance plans for the bus strategy - so we’re back to the start.
“It will probably fall on the local authority when it should fall on national government. We will carry on trying to get to a solution.”
A hospital spokesperson advised staff to be considerate when parking.
The site’s ruling trust has sectioned off its car park on the corner of Pogmoor Road and Summer Lane exclusively for staff use, and said it had introduced ‘far more flexible’ permits than those pre-pandemic.
Staff on night shifts can continue to park for free, while the hospital’s policy for all motorists is that the first 15 minutes are free.
The hospital has identified suitable land at Capitol Park in Dodworth for the park-and-ride scheme, which had been fast-tracked due to ongoing issues, before the pandemic struck.
It’s hoped the park-and-ride will mirror the success of Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s facility and alleviate hostility between hospital users and residents, but the Chronicle understands an alternative site - on land allocated as MU1 in the council’s local plan blueprint, from Pogmoor to Barugh Green - could be pursued.
Coun Pickering said the best solution would be both a western site - serving Penistone and the surrounding area - and an eastern site.