Edinburgh City Council deny union claims of blocking increase to hospital parking
Council planning chiefs have denied union claims that they blocked moves to increase hospital parking to meet environmental goals.
Concerns about inadequate parking at Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital were raised by staff forced to leave their vehicles up to two miles off-site, making them late for work
NHS Lothian has been pressuring the council for more than eight years to increase parking at the Little France site but requests were constantly rejected, claims Unison, the union which represents most of the health staff.
Unison said the council has refused to permit more parking spaces because it interferes with their green policies.
A spokesperson insisted: “This is not a new issue and has been a huge problem since the site opened.
“NHS Lothian have been asking for additional car parking on the campus for at least the last 8 years.
“However, Edinburgh City Council has continually refused to grant permission as it is in conflict with their green policies to reduce the number of cars on the road.”
But councillor Neil Gardiner, the local authority’s Planning Convener, has denied these claims stating there has been no refusal to grant permission for permanent parking at the site.
But he added that any proposals submitted would be considered against current policies – which include reducing reliance on cars – in order to be a net zero carbon city by 2030.
Councillor Gardiner said: “We haven’t refused any applications for additional permanent car parking at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary site.
“Any proposals would be considered against our current policies and guidance and our priority when considering parking is for sustainable travel with reduced reliance on cars, tying in with the Scottish Government’s planning and transport policy.”
Nearly 316 spaces were added to the car park in April 2012 ahead of the children’s hospital relocation and planning permission for a new temporary car park was granted at the end of last year.
The temporary car park was meant to open in March to coincide with the unveiling of the new children’s hospital but has been delayed until July.
The spokesperson from Unison said: “After multiple requests, the council agreed to a temporary car park which will see an additional 280 spaces.
“Again NHS were hoping to have the agreement and spaces opened before the Sick Children's Hospital opened - sadly that didn't happen and the extra spaces won't be ready until July.
Currently, most hospital parking spaces are filled by staff members and Unison does not believe parking facilities will be able to cope when visitors are allowed to return to hospitals.
Unison added: “Currently almost all car park spaces are for staff, with only one small car park ring-fenced for visitors and patients.
“This is not sustainable, when services start to re-open the original patients car parks currently being used by staff using will revert to patient only.
“Staff from Sick Children's are facing the same daily battles around car parking that have always existed and unless the council reverse their decision on building additional car parking then this issue won’t go away.
“We have Theatre staff, Critical care Staff and A&E staff all fighting for these spaces and every one of them urgently needed at work.”