The Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital at Margate.
by Gerry Warren
Cleaners, kitchen staff and porters at a hospital trust will have to pay double to park on the site following the ramping up of staff charges.
The East Kent Hospitals Trust - which runs the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, the William Harvey hospital in Ashford, the Buckland Hospital in Dover and the Royal Victoria in Folkestone - says the rises will encourage more people to use public transport to get into work.
But they will also help fund 340 new spaces and improvements to the staff car parks in Canterbury.
The lowest paid workers will see their annual permits rise from £145 to £292 while those earning more than £55,000 bear the biggest burden with their charge going up from £182 to £675.
The fees are on a sliding scale depending on pay rate and volunteers will still park for free.
In May it emerged, following a Freedom of Information request, that the EKHT was raking in more than £1.5million from parking fees across its five sites.
The new increase, which will come into effect next March, follows a review of staff parking arrangements by the trust.
Trust chief executive Stuart Bain said: “It is well-known that car parking has become an issue for the trust across all groups.
“Car parking problems are a recurring theme. Having put in place improvements for patients and visitors, we have now turned our attention to staff.
“While the new proposals do mean a rise in the cost of a permit, we believe that they will address the long-standing issues staff have highlighted to us.
“We have to accept that the current facilities were built for a smaller workforce, that improvements cost money and that we need a new system that treats people more fairly.
“We also have a duty as a public sector employer to look at greener travel, and want to encourage more people to choose public transport and other options for getting to work.”
He said the new initiative, which followed a three-month consultation with staff, was also aimed at eliminating the current two-year wait for a car parking permit for new applicants.