CHARGES: Excuse is ridiculous

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I write regarding the article announcing the new parking charges at North Tyneside and Northumberland hospitals (News Guardian, February 7).

I am a lucky individual as I do not attend hospital often and when I do I try to make alternative arrangements, rather than paying to park.

Just before Christmas, I attended Cramlington Maternity Unit for around 12 hours. I paid £1 for the privilege, which added to a very positive, if prolonged visit.

At that time, it was £1 for up to 24 hours parking.

I thought this was very reasonable, perhaps excellent value, and so out of sync with the usual rip-off charges I normally experience.

I was not surprised when I read the article about a rise in charges. However, what I could not understand was the six-fold rise, or 500 per cent. In fact, the rise went from £1 per 24 hours to £2 per hour, up to £6 for 24 hours.

Reading on, the reason given by Les Morgan, the interim director of estates for the trust, was that the car park was being used by the public to go shopping and to park for extended times, while some went on holidays from the ‘nearby’ airport.

There were ‘repeated reports’ to say that this was happening.

A couple of things came to mind.

The first was where did these people go shopping where they felt the need to avoid parking as all of the shopping outlets have acres of free parking?

The next, it’s still a fair hike to the airport from Cramlington, with no direct public transport links nearby.

And lastly, where did these repeated reports stem from and what evidence or credibility can we attach to them?

If ever there was a ridiculous excuse, for to me it is an excuse, not a genuine need, for these extortionate and disproportionate rises in charges, I don’t think I have ever seen a more lame reason given by anyone in my lifetime.

I am outraged that this has happened in a time of extended austerity, affecting the poorest members of our community.

I could write on, but no doubt you will be inundated by readers who feel as I do.

Fraser Gill

Whitley Bay