Dowager Countess Bathurst says Cirencester Hospital car park will reopen with barriers and ticket machines
THE Dowager Countess Bathurst has performed an unexpected u-turn on her decision to close the staff car park at Cirencester Hospital.
The Dowager, who reportedly refused to renew the hospital’s lease on the car park last week causing problems for doctors and nurses, has claimed that the car park will reopen following maintenance work.
In a letter to the Standard, she said: “The car park will be re-opening in the near future after renovations and proper barriers with ticket machines have been installed.
“It was never to be closed permanently, just taken back in hand by the Dowager to be administered properly.”
It is thought that the installation of ticket machines will mean that the once free-to-use car park will become a pay-and-display or a pay-on-exit car park in future.
However, the Dowager’s decision has come as news to Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust – the owners of the hospital.
“We are not aware of plans being developed by the Bathurst Estate for the land that was previously leased to the Trust for staff car parking,” said Mark Parsons, head of estate services for the Trust.
Since the Standard reported the news of the car park’s closure last week, the Trust has been working to find a new place for its staff to park.
Mark said: “To ensure that staff can continue to park free of charge onsite, we have invested in resurfacing a new car parking area. This is expected to be completed at the end of November. The current visitor and patient car parking will remain free of charge as currently provided.”
The Standard visited Cirencester Hospital last week to see how the staff were managing without their main staff car park.
Many of the staff and visitors to the hospital have now resorted to parking along the grass verges on the main road used by emergency vehicles travelling to and from the hospital.
However a large number of hospital workers are still having to pay to park their cars in one of the town centre car parks and then use public transport to get to work.
Last week’s story has prompted a massive debate on the Standard’s website, with empathetic readers airing their opinions on the situation.
One user wrote: “How sad that she feels the need to penalise the very people who save lives and render a vital service to the community.”
To join in the discussion or to view what’s already been said, visit www.wiltsglosstandard.co.uk.
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