An example PCN from CP Plus.
CP Plus hospital parking scandal
In 2011 Mike Ion, a Telford Councillor, made a Freedom of Information request to discover how much they are paying to private car park operator CP Plus Ltd. Mr Ion discovered that Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust collected £1.3m in the last financial year from patient and visitor parking. And that 40% of this went straight to private car park operator CP Plus. Telford councillor Mike Ion said the parking charges were a “tax on the sick”. Mr Ion, a previous prospective parliamentary candidate for Shrewsbury, called for parking charges to be scrapped by 2014. Mr Ion’s call followed reports as early as 2008 that hospital parking fees could rocket as NHS trusts sell off their parking rights to private companies to balance the books. Back then, health watchdogs feared the parking fees would increase and the money would line the pockets of firms such as CP Plus, rather than go to the NHS. Many had claimed it was “morally wrong” to raise revenue by making visitors to pay for parking. Charities argued that patients with long-term conditions and those who need regular treatment should be exempt from paying parking fees The 2008 report said the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust the rights to income from their car parks have been sold off to CP Plus which pays the hospital a fixed annual fee for the parking income and a share of the fines. CP Plus has been operating the car parks since April 2005 with the deal running until 2019. In November 2013 James Harrison, a spokesman for CP Plus, said the income it had made since 2005 from the hospitals goes towards providing a service to visitors with the company employing 11 staff across the two sites. CP Plus manages 350 car parks across the UK.
In another hospital parking faisco, Dennis Athersmith daughter was rushed to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital where she required an emergency caesarian section to deliver her baby. She and her baby were then transferred to Telford’s Princess Royal. Mr Athersmith said: “To save my daugher having to walk right through the hospital, the staff said to come to the unit itself via the side entrance. Mr Athersmith arrived at the car park at the side entrance in the vicinity was a CP Plus parking attendant checking tickets. The attendant told us we had to move the car. I said we were not parking – just dropping off – and had been instructed to do this by the nursing staff”. Mr Athersmith, added: “The CP Plus attendant said if we did not move it immediately he would book me and started to take my registration details”. A spokesman for The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said: “We expect the highest standards of customer service from everyone employed by CP Plus, which is the company that manages car parks on the trust’s behalf. Their priority needs to be to put patients first and we would be very keen to hear directly from this person to talk about this matter further, apologise in person and ask CP Plus to look into this.”
In a further fiasco involving a hospital car park managed by CP Plus Ltd, Watford General Hospital axed free parking for diasbled patient, thus requiring them to pay the full amount. Hospital Chief executive Samantha Jone explained the new charges were needed to cover the cost of its car parking contract with CP Plus which currently holds the contract to manage the trust’s hospital car park. She said: “We do realise that there wasn’t adequate consultation with people and for that I do apologise on behalf of the trust. We got it wrong and we need to ask people’s views about it”. “My personal view is that I’m uncomfortable about it. But my personal view needs to be informed by my professional position.” The decision to start charging blue badge holders was made before Ms Jones became chief executive and has been met with widespread anger from disabled groups in south west Hertfordshire.
CP Plus Parking Charge Notice – my story
David Thomas is a resident in a village called The Meadows at Southwaite, near Carlisle. He regularly uses a slip lane at the back of the Moto service station to access the motorway to drive to work. CP Plus operates CCTV cameras at the service station which take pictures of the cars as they get on and off the M6. The CP Plus system assumes that the first time the car is detected, it stays to park. And the second time it is detected, it is leaving. As the gap is often some hours, CP Plus has concluded that the driver such as David Thomas are overstaying their welcome in the Moto car park. CP Plus has sent hudreds of parking tickets to houses on The Meadows over the last couple of weeks – each time demanding a parking fine of £80 to avoid court proceedings. On one ocassion, Mr Thomas received a parking charge notice for parking his car for 14 hours at the service station. He called CP-Plus to explain what had happened and reminded the company that it had made the same mistake last year. The parking ticket was cancelled, then the next morning another PCN arrived. This time stating that Mr Thomas had been parked up at Moto for 21 hours. After speaking to neighbours at the Meadows Mr Thomas found out that he was not the only victim. Over the previous few weeks £640 worth of tickets had been issued to The Meadows. The tickets eventually got waived, but Mr Thomas fears the letters from CP Plus wont’ stop coming. He said “It’s incredibly hard to get through to them and then when you do get through to speak to someone they just say it won’t happen again. Well it does happen again and it’s ridiculous. CP Plus have our addresses so why can’t they work out we’re not all parking our cars for hours on end at a service station half a mile away?” The manager of the Southwaite Moto said: “The management of our car park is outsourced to CP Plus Limited and therefore it’s CP Plus that needs to conduct any investigation or invoke the appeals procedure.”