/ Motoring

Brief cases: couple given £100 charge in hospital car park

A woman collecting her 94-year-old mum from hospital was slapped with a £100 parking charge even though her car was in a disabled bay and displaying a valid permit.

Jeanette and John Creasey parked in a Blue Badge bay in November 2014 when they collected her mum, Patricia Tanner, from Kingston Hospital, where she’d been treated.

They didn’t know that the hospital had just changed the car park from pay and display to a CCTV number plate recognition system.

The couple had left their permit on display, not knowing that Blue Badge holders were now supposed to take their badges to the hospital’s main entrance to have their details logged.

How were we supposed to know?

John said there were no signs in the bay where they parked warning of the change, or explaining how disabled drivers would now get free parking.

In fact, there were still some pay-and-display signs up. The couple were sent a notice demanding £100 payment within 14 days, reduced to £50 for early payment. John was unwilling to pay and contacted Which? Legal for advice.

After getting the notice, they went back to the car park and saw a few signs stating ‘Blue Badge holders – please see signage within bays for information on how to obtain free parking’.

Some signs were at payment machines, which Blue Badge holders wouldn’t need to go to and so wouldn’t see. Security asked the couple to leave when they took photos of parking bays without signs.

What we advised the couple


We advised the couple to tell the hospital that the charge was unfair as the charging signs in place were conflicting. John contacted the hospital on 10 December. It said the ticket would be cancelled.

Despite this, he had a reminder from the firm running the new system. John said he wouldn’t pay. He finally learnt in January that the charge had been cancelled.

What the law says about parking charges

Car parks run by private firms are governed by contract law. Operators can decide which types of vehicle can use it, how long they can stay, how much they must pay, and enforce special bays.

If you break the car park’s conditions, you could get a parking ticket. But signs must be prominent and clearly state the terms. If you get a ticket for breaching a term you weren’t made adequately aware of, you may be able to challenge it with the car-park operator or in the County Court (Sheriff Court in Scotland).

Have you had an experience like Jeanette’s? Did you contest the charge?


LawrieA says:
3 May 2015

The basic problem is that there are too many cars and, whether we like it or not, the problem is going to get worse. At my local hospital (Warwick) the Blue Badge holders park on the double yellow lines on the road outside causing mayhem to local traffic,especially buses. Is this selfish or an act of necessity? It’s a problem that needs to be addressed at all hospitals.

LawrieA – A Blue Badge holder is disabled and is entitled to park on double yellow lines. This is not allowed where loading/unloading is not permitted or there are signs forbidding parking for some reason – e.g. access for emergency vehicles is needed.

LawrieA, nor can you park on double yellow lines where you might cause an obstruction. A blue badge is not a permit to park anywhere you like.

A Blue Badge holder can use their badge on a car driven by another person, which is why we often see fit people getting out of cars parked in bays for the disabled and on double yellow lines.

When ferrying Blue Badge holders in my car I prefer to drop off the disabled person and park the car somewhere else. That frees up bays for the disabled and avoids me having to leave my car where it might cause a nuisance. I’m not the only one who does this and wish that others would do the same.

It would seem to be a permit to park wherever you like in my town, Sherborne, also other towns I visit. I am a Blue Badge holder and would not dream of parking on double yellow lines as they are there for a purpose. It is usually in a place where to park would cause a hazard. If non-Blue Badge holders can be fined, why on earth are Blue Badge holders Not? As for hospitals – I stand pretty well no chance of parking in a Blue Badge space in most of the hospitals as there are so few spaces. One car park has many places for certain departments which never seem to be filled when the places I need are filled. If I use my badge in an ordinary parking place I get a fine. In all cases there appears one law for some and another for others. Mostly unfair.

It seems to me to quite wrong for a hospital, of all places, to penalise a disabled person for parking in an ordinary parking space if – at the time they needed to park – all the parking spaces designated for use by disabled people were occupied.

I commend your view on parking on double yellow lines by Blue Badge holders. In some cases it is not a problem but unfortunately some do take the view that they can park wherever they like. Double yellow lines do need to apply to a length of road consistently from end to end of the restriction so it is inevitable that within a stretch of double yellow line there could be places where parking would not cause an obstruction. Nevertheless it is best to look for a place that avoids that argument.

As far as I know a blue badge holder is not penalised for parking in a standard space. The disabled spaces are usually near the hospital entrance and wider.

Geraldine [above] wrote “If I use my badge in an ordinary parking place I get a fine.”

I expect it is the case that not all hospitals have the same regulations or sufficient provision.

As Lawrie says, the problem of parking at hospitals is certainly going to get worse as my early post-war generation reaches the age when hospital attendance becomes increasingly necessary – whether for our own health needs or to visit friends and relations. Hospitals on out-of-town sites attract a very high car-borne attendance; even if there are plenty of bus services the rural timetables might make it difficult and lengthy interchanges might be necessary. Hospitals in built-up areas might not have enough space for more car parking so the local streets get clogged with parked cars making difficulties for the bus services. It is difficult to justify NHS money being spent on multi-storey car parks and shuttle bus services but access to health care is as important as the facilities themselves. Better planning might have foreseen and avoided some of the current problems. Mega hospitals might have seemed like a good idea but not enough thought was given to the access and transport consequences. The distances some people are having to travel for essential healthcare nowadays are staggering. The failure of local GP services to meet urgent and community needs is another factor. Our way around the problems in Norfolk is to stay overnight in Norwich before a hospital appointment and get the bus for the last eight miles to the hospital but not everyone has the opportunity or the ability to do that.

The nearest hospital to me is a smaller one with no A&E department and a limited range of out-patient services. Unfortunately the three entrances are alongside a busy road that had a 40 mph speed limit. There were notices reminding hospital visitors to leave their parking lights on at night but because these were ignored the road now has double yellow lines.

The biggest problem with any car park is the use of pay and display systems. This is a licence to print money because those parking will always pay for a longer period than they actually need just in case they are delayed for some reason. It is much fairer to adopt the pay on exit system so that the payment is based on the actual usage.

I have, unfortunately, been in the situation of making many visits to the local hospital for treatment, averaging 2 visits per week this year and much the same for a lot of last year. Fortunately for me, the hospital not only uses the pay on exit system but also has several concessionary systems for regular users. In my case, this is a 20 visit pass for £10 – in other words, 50p per visit and there is no time limit for each visit, on one occasion last year I parked for 4 days for 50p!

Perhaps the reason for the way this particular hospital treats car parking is that it is run by the hospital itself rather than by a private company wishing to maximise its profits.

Several comments suggest that car parking should be free at hospitals. This, unfortunately, is not a realistic aspiration. The problem is that, unless the hospital is way off the beaten track, such a car park would rapidly become full of commuters and hospital users would find it impossible to find anywhere to park. This used to be a problem at the hospital that I am attending before they started charging.

I successfully got a charge removed from an ASDA car park. However, I am still being pursued by a debt collection agency demanding various sums. They’re going to look silly if they take it to court and I produce the notice that the charge was withdrawn. I am not someone who is intimidated so I will see it through.

John, you can threatem them with court action for harrasment if they continue. Do you subscribe to Which? Legal? – I’m sure they can advise you.

This was also the case at Kingston Hospital where despite having the charge removed by the Hospital itself, ‘Parking Eye’ still sent out further demands. My reply to ‘Parking Eye’ was pretty much to the point, but probably wouldn’t have won many diplomatic awards. ‘Parking Eye’ did later come around to my way of thinking that to pursue me might not be in their interests.

I am a firm supporter of ‘Which? Legal Services’ and recommend them to everybody.

renniemac says:
17 May 2015

Here in Scotland the SNP government abolished parking fees, they believe it wasn’t right to worry about parking fees because, Families have stressful time when loved ones are sick, patients shouldn’t have to worry about fees when attending appointments in some cases receiving upsetting news, staff need to bring cars to work because of unsocial hours. above are some of the reasons the government gave for abolishing these charges
The charges were originally imposed by the Scottish labour run Government, but thankfully their time was short lived. Hospital journeys for whatever reason are stressful at the best of times. we don’t need unnecessary charges imposed just to make private companies richer. I think the people in England are hard done by, by their Government for imposing charges, be it hospital or clamping the money does not help the NHS. also Clamping is illegal in Scotland, thankfully we have a Government who think families are having it tough at present without making it worse with charges at every turn. you should all sign petitions, canvas your MP to have things changed

I hope that any hospital that you might need to attend is not near to a shopping or business area. If it is, the fact that there are no parking fees will be irrelevant because the car park will be full of commuters, patients and hospital visitors will find parking to be almost impossible. This was the case when the hospital that I attend did not have charges. At least now there is a reasonable possibility of finding somewhere to park.

Hi All,

Sad to have to report that the lady of the story – wonderful and caring Mum in Law Patricia Tanner, passed away this week at the very same hospital – Kingston.

I would like to personally thank all the nursing staff in Keats Ward (both day and night) who supported Pat and the whole Family over this last week. You were all amazing.

Nan was so upset by the original parking charge last year and was very pleased at the response and outcome against Parking Eye.

A wonderful lady who spent her life caring about others.

John XX

I am sure we would all like to condole with you. It is such a pity that your family’s feelings during your mother-in-law’s last months were overshadowed by a parking penalty.

The NHS is supposed to provide care free at the time of need. Surely adding to the stress of sick people and their carers is not providing care properly. Could Which? take this aspect of the debate up through the law courts?

Supermarkets can provide adequate, free parking. It is a matter of architecture and design. If they can do it, then so can the NHS.

WOW – all change here…..Kingston Hospital are now about to charge Blue Badge holders to park from 22 January 2018 – http://www.surreycomet.co.uk/news/15794414.Surbiton_Crescent_restrictions_make___4_5million_in_first_year/