A petition has been delivered to a private parking firm calling for it to perform a U-turn on plans to raise its fees at Ninewells Hospital.
Indigo Infra Dundee Ltd, which runs parking facilities on behalf of NHS Tayside as part of a private finance initiative (PFI) contract, announced earlier this month its intention to raise charges from November 1.
The cost of a single visit to the hospital’s car parks will go from £2.30 to £2.40, while staff permit prices will also rise for the third time since 2016.
A Tele campaign – Freeze the Fees – backed by a petition, called for the firm to keep charges at existing levels until at least November next year. More than 2,100 people signed the petition.
The Tele took those signatures to Indigo’s headquarters in Watford, accompanied by a letter from Tele editor Andrew Kellock, and submitted them to the company.
The letter, addressed to the firm’s directors, read: “Although we appreciate that it is your right to review charges on an annual basis, through the terms of the contract you signed some 20 years ago with NHS Tayside, we believe that adding further cost to what is already an expensive and potentially worrying time for people visiting the hospital, is unacceptable.
“Your company records show that you made a profit of more than £1 million last year, which is directly attributed to a previous rise in parking fees.
“Given these profits, we do not feel that a further rise is justified, at a time when most household budgets continue to be squeezed and people’s ability to pay such charges is diminished.
“When we were informed of your plans to raise parking fees, we launched a campaign, backed by a petition, called Freeze the Fees. This is calling for your company to keep parking charges at Ninewells Hospital at existing levels – set in November last year – until at least November next year. A total of 2,121 people signed this petition, via our website and through forms we included in recent editions of our paper. I enclose a list of the names we received – some chose to remain anonymous.
“We feel this sends a strong message to your company that this proposed rise should not take place.
“It is also our understanding that the Scottish Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, is writing to you to ask for a rethink.
“The will of the general public and our country’s top politicians is clear – a rise in parking fees at Ninewells Hospital should not go ahead on November 1.
“We urge you to take these views into consideration and do the right thing by the people the hospital serves – and Freeze the Fees for the coming year.”
Ms Freeman’s letter, sent to Indigo managing director Phillip Herring, read: “As you will be aware, the Scottish Government abolished car parking charges at all publicly-owned NHS hospital car parks from December 31 2008.
“Hospital car parking charges put an unnecessary financial burden on those attending hospital for treatment, their families and hospital staff.
“Increases of any size add to this burden and I therefore urge you to reconsider the decision to increase car parking charges at Ninewells Hospital and to commit to freezing parking charges at existing levels, as set in November 2017.”
Indigo has refused to answer questions from the Tele on its plans, but claims the fees are governed by its contract with NHS Tayside.