A Dundee politician repeatedly rejected calls to scrap parking fees at Ninewells Hospital – despite concerns from within her own party.
Shona Robison MSP received numerous emails from concerned constituents in her time as health secretary – a role she left earlier this year – asking for the Scottish Government to buy out the private finance initiative (PFI) contract between NHS Tayside and Indigo Infra Dundee Ltd.
The 30-year deal, agreed in 1998, means the private firm runs parking facilities at Ninewells on behalf of the health board, but has control over the fees it charges.
The Tele is campaigning for a freeze in those fees until at least November next year after Indigo revealed plans to increase charges yet again at the start of next month.
Our Freeze the Fees petition has attracted more than 1,500 signatures and can be signed at the bottom of this article.
Documents seen by the Tele show that Dundee East MSP Ms Robison received correspondence from patients, staff and fellow politicians about parking at Ninewells – most of whom called for the contract to be brought to an end.
Among them was Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick, now a senior government minister, who contacted Ms Robison in June last year.
He wrote: “The issue of parking charges at Ninewells Hospital has been raised again in the local press as well as continues (sic) to be raised by our respective constituents.
“I would be grateful for any update that you might be able to provide on any recent discussions with NHS Tayside and Indigo (previously ‘Vinci’) regarding this.
“A particular issue that continues to be raised… is whether the operator may be willing to consider an early termination of the 30-year lease agreement entered into in 1998.”
But in a reply – the same one sent to multiple constituents – Ms Robison wrote that there would be “significant legal contractual issues to be resolved” in terminating any deal, resulting in “significant sums of capital and revenue cost implications” for NHS Tayside and NHS Scotland.
She added: “Given the financial constraints… investment in this area would reduce the amount of money that can be invested in clinical services. For these reasons we have not attempted to buy out the car park contract at Ninewells.”
The government has repeatedly refused to reveal exactly how much cancelling the contract would cost.
Indigo is yet to comment on the reasons for the planned price rise.