Edinburgh Infirmary parking crisis: MSP wants fundraising appeal to pay for multi-storey car park

Parking problems at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary could be solved by a fund-raising campaign to pay for a multi-storey car park, Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs has claimed.
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He said tweaking the controversial parking permit system introduced in January after congestion caused chaos at the Little France campus would never produce a long-term answer to the shortage of spaces.

And he argued the authorities should accept they were not going to persuade staff, patients and visitors to stop driving to the hospital.

Edinburgh Royal InfirmaryEdinburgh Royal Infirmary
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
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He said: "The solution probably means building more parking spaces and accepting that when people are unwell they will come by car and that working patterns mean it is not practical for many staff to use public transport or cycle after a 12-hour shift.

"We need to look to a new multi-storey car park.

"I don't think the government or any health board wants to spend money on car parks and I fully understand that. They want to spend it on people's health.

“But given the goodwill towards the NHS and NHS staff I'm sure if we did a fundraising appeal we would get the money. It's a solution for this problem."

Miles BriggsMiles Briggs
Miles Briggs

He said he hoped the appeal could be cross-party and draw money not just from the public but also larger donors.

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He cited the example of billionaire philanthropist Sir Ian Wood who donated £10.7 million to build a multi-storey car park at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

"NHS Grampian were lucky Sir Ian and his wife were willing to step forward.

"We could put out an appeal to see which companies, for example, might be ready to support this.

"We could go down the route of a crowd-funder so each of us could just chip in £20 or we could also try and get some big-ticket companies and individuals involved as well."

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NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said: “NHS Lothian has to abide by local planning and sustainability legislation, just like every other organisation and individual. To build any new car parks or indeed a multi-storey car park requires planning permission.

"Both the city council and the Scottish Government are committed to reducing car usage as part of their environmental policies. As such, a multi-storey car park is not available to us.

"The Royal Infirmary is one of four acute hospital campuses in Lothian and we recognise how important travel and car parking are to many of our teams across all of the sites. We continue to engage and work with staff to maximise the parking available on the infirmary campus and regularly meet elected members to provide updates, discuss suggestions and explain circumstances.”

A council spokesperson said: “Clearly this remains an important issue for those who work and visit the hospital, particularly in light of the pandemic. We completely appreciate the situation people are in and granted planning permission to the ERI in late 2020 for a temporary car park for staff.

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“At no stage have we refused applications for additional permanent parking at the site. Bringing forward proposals for that would need to lie with NHS Lothian. If presented to the council, we would of course consider them fully against our current planning policies, with consideration to heights and view corridors in this part of the city and guidance on sustainable travel.”

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