Hospital parking row: DVLA probe into 'unfair' fines claim

Warrington hospital parking signs Image copyright Hitesh Patel
Image caption The DVLA has temporarily suspended its dealings with the hospital's parking firm

The DVLA has suspended dealings with a hospital parking firm as it investigates complaints about thousands of "unfair" fines.

Halton Citizens' Advice Bureau said a lack of proper signs at Warrington and Halton hospitals means thousands of fines should be reimbursed.

Tickets were issued to those attending Halton and Warrington hospitals in Cheshire between March and May.

A spokesman for the hospital trust said it believes the signage is "compliant".

In the three months from March, private contractor Highview Parking issued 4,229 penalty notices at car parks used by the two hospitals, a Freedom of Information request revealed.

About 1,000 of the notices were later refunded on appeal, although it is estimated the fines could have totalled more than £300,000.

The British Parking Association's code of practice states that "signs must be conspicuous and legible."

Missed appointment

A CAB report said it has visited the entrances to the site and found no signage which complied with guidelines.

The DVLA said: "Highview Parking Ltd has been temporarily suspended for all cases identified at the Halton General Hospital while our investigation is ongoing. This does not include Warrington Hospital."

An 88-year-old woman told the BBC she missed her cardiology appointment at Warrington Hospital on Tuesday after being previously hit with a fine while visiting her ill son last month.

Retired warden Ann Dean was visiting her 67-year-old son Bernard, who has emphysema, on 18 June. Three weeks later, she received a letter from Highview saying there was "no evidence" sufficient payment had been made for parking.

She said: "I got in touch with the hospital about the fine and it has since been cancelled - but I said to them: 'What about all the other people?'

"I want all this to be sorted out. I had a cardiology appointment at Warrington on Tuesday, but I would not go because of the parking."

She added: "It's just absolutely ridiculous as people are worried anyway when they are visiting hospital without this."

Fines 'rescinded'

Halton CAB chief executive Hitesh Patel said car parking policies at the hospital were "unfair" and patients who appealed "should have their fine rescinded".

A spokesman for Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust confirmed a request had been received from the DVLA to suspend any requests made for alleged parking infringements at Halton General.

"This is as a consequence of the issues raised with ourselves and the DVLA which we have been actively looking at and discussing with Halton Borough Council to resolve any concerns.

"We hope this will be concluded as soon as possible. It does not affect the Warrington Hospital site."

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