RESIDENTS battling plans to charge them to park outside their own home as part of a hospital traffic crackdown have called on council bosses to cover the cost of permits from a £750,000 pot of public cash instead.
Glasgow City Council is facing fierce opposition to plans to impose parking restrictions on communities surrounding the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Govan.
The council insists the measures – which include introducing pay-and-display meters – are vital to avoid an overspill of staff and visitors to the £862 million super-hospital turning neighbouring streets into a “car park”, but householders are furious that the the plans would also see them billed £50-a-year for a resident’s parking permit with no guarantee of a space outside their home.
Meanwhile, business owners and their employees would each face an annual £700 charge, which one trader said would effectively reduce his staff’s earnings to less than minimum wage.
The long-running controversy came to a head yesterday[thu]on the opening day of a two-day hearing on the issue when campaigners and politicians, including Glasgow Pollok MSP Humza Yousaf, demanded to know why taxpayer cash ringfenced to ease congestion and infrastructure problems around the facility could not be tapped into to cover permits for local residents and traders. The so-called “Section 75” funds were set aside by the NHS as a condition of the development gaining planning permission.
Mr Yousaf, who stressed that he was appearing as a local MSP and not as the newly-appointed Transport Minister, said his constituents were facing a “completely unacceptable and unjustifiable financial penalty”.
He said: “Even if they pay the £70 permit, will the council guarantee them a space outside their home and if not, how far might they have to walk? Some measure is needed to control traffic, but not to the detriment of local residents.”
He added that one in 10 people living in Greater Govan relied on unpaid carers, who would also have to pay to park, and asked how much of the Section 75 cash had already been spent and on what.
A representative for the council said he did not have an “exact breakdown”, but said some of the money had gone to Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) to improve bus provision with cash also allocated to a cycleway and footpath upgrades. However, he added that there may be “statutory limitations” barring the council from spending Section 75 money on residents’ and traders’ permits.
The public hearing was called after the council's proposals attracted more than 4000 objections. It is being chaired by an independent reporter who has 12 weeks to submit his recommendations. His advice will not be binding, however, leaving the council free to impose the Traffic Regulation Order.
Campaigners, the G51 Parking Group, say substantial increases in hospital parking spaces and a new M8 on/off ramp at Hardgate Road would ease gridlock "for a fraction" of the £350,000 the council plans to spend enforcing its parking scheme.