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Plan to increase staff parking charges at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford

Furious workers from the William Harvey Hospital have slammed “outrageous” plans to increase staff parking charges by more than 200%.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is considering proposals to more than double the annual peak-time staff parking permits from £178.61 to upwards of £405.

The trust said the increased charges would cover the cost of providing additional staff parking to meet overwhelming demand.

More than 300 upset and anxious employees held an emergency meeting to discuss proposed changes and set up an action group called the WH Staff Parking Campaign on Sunday night.

Parking at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford
Parking at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford

A spokesman from the group said: “Presently car parking costs are around £13 per month for all staff. In the ridiculous proposals the lowest paid staff taking home a little over £10,000 will be asked to pay over £400 of their wages.

“Staff earning £38,000 pay only £45 less per year than top executives earning over £100,000 with parking charges of nearly £700 to park your car at work.”

“We are angry as no consultation has been held with all staff, only with managers.

“I know people who have been in tears about this because they can’t afford to pay it.”

They have sent a letter to Finbarr corrMurray, the hospital trust’s deputy director of estates, highlighting the fact that staff have not had a pay rise in the last two years.

The action group said “industrial action” had been discussed and they urged a rethink and a more realistic proposal.

County councillor George Koowaree (Lib Dem), member for Ashford East, added: “It’s outrageous. The problem is the parking charge is not affordable for some members of staff as it is and that’s why they park all over the place. They’re asking for the poorest to pay for their car park.”

UNISON representative Zoe Van Dyke said: “The burden very disproportionately falls on the lowest paid members of staff and we will be urging the trust to reconsider this.

“I think the general public would want to be reassured that their nurses could park their cars so that they can come in and look after them.”

The trust said that of their 2,767 members of staff, 1,907 had parking permits while around 300 employees were on the waiting list.

A trust spokesman said: “Staff have raised the issue of parking and parking permits over a long period. The trust have listened to staff; looked at the issues and produced some proposals to increase the amount of parking for staff and also to improve the quality of our car parks, as we know that the temporary surfaces can damage cars and pose a safety risk.

“The trust are proposing renting and building additional car parking to meet the overwhelming demand, resurfacing car parks, improving lighting and CCTV and removing the parking permit waiting list, currently at two years. However, this can only be paid for by increased charges for staff.”

It was added that the proposed charges had been shared with the hospital’s staff committee but no final decision has been made.

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