Anger over parking company’s appeal fees

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HOSPITAL campaigners are reeling after it was revealed that a private parking company has pocketed thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the Conquest on The Ridge, together with Eastbourne DGH, employed County Parking to oversee the running of its car parks for four years. The contract with the organisation came to an end in February and bosses decided to police parking within the trust.

This week the Observer learned that the private company pocketed £10 from the NHS every time someone launched a successful appeal against their parking fine.

A trust spokesman said there were on average 10 successful appeals every month for the last four years, meaning County Parking received at least £4,800 from the trust.

He said the £10 was used towards an administration charge.

Margaret Williams, chairman of the Friends of the Conquest, a group which fundraises for the hospital to help buy new equipment, was disgusted at the news.

She said: “I am horrifed. This amount could have bought, for example, five blood monitors.

“We fought against the charges and brought this up several times at the trust’s board meetings.

“It’s disgraceful and whoever set up the contract with County Parking should be brought to book.”

Nick Perry, who led a campaign against the parking charges following a litany of complaints from patients, was equally as unhappy.

He said: “I hope the trust’s chief executive will be writing to the company to ask for the money back. It has trousered £5,000 for doing its job badly.

“I am pleased the company has been shown the door and delighted that the trust will be doing it in-house. Hopefully there will be a less zealous approach to parking enforcement.”

The trust spokesman said: “The contract with County Parking came to a natural end in February and we felt doing it in-house would be easier and fairer and offer a greater deal of flexibility and tolerance. The fines have also been reduced to £35, whereas before it was £40.”

County Parking declined to comment.