Fresh fury over hospital parking fines system

Bill and Julie Richardson of Australia Tower, Lakeside, Sunderland, who are angry about a parking ticket received at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Bill and Julie Richardson of Australia Tower, Lakeside, Sunderland, who are angry about a parking ticket received at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

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FRESH concern has been raised over parking fines at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Bill Richardson, a taxi driver from Lakeside Village, says he went to the hospital after his wife was rushed in and bought a ticket from a machine.

But a week later he received a fine in the post saying he had not done so.

He appealed and the fine was rescinded by the operator ParkingEye Limited, but Mr Richardson says he is still concerned about the system.

Click here to read our story on hospital parking charge hikes

However, a spokesman for ParkingEye said Mr Richardson had incorrectly inputted his registration number and his fine was cancelled on appeal.

Mr Richardson said: “I bought the ticket on the Monday morning, after my wife had been rushed into hospital, and then eight days after I got a fine saying that I had not bought one.

“No-one would think to keep their ticket for that long because you just throw them away and so I think there should be some signs up to warn people to keep their tickets. It made me feel annoyed as I had paid but afterwards I cleared the car out that week so I knew I had not kept the ticket.

“I imagine there may well have been lots of people that pay the fine though they have in fact bought a ticket.”

The Echo has previously reported complaints about the parking system, including the case of 50-year-old blue badge holder David Hedley, of Ryhope, who received a £60 fine even though blue badge holders are allowed to park for free.

Disabled drivers said they hadn’t been aware that they had to register before parking there.

Sunderland City Councillor Alan Wright, who Mr Richardson contacted, says he has heard of other cases and believes something needs to be done.

He said: “I have written to the hospital and the car park operator, ParkingEye Limited, to suggest that the system is flawed. I would like to know how many other people have been caught in this problem and maybe paid the fine and if so will they all be refunded?

“Secondly, I think additional signs are required on the site as customers should be advised by signs on the ticket machines or on the tickets to retain them for at least eight days.”

A spokesman for ParkingEye Limited said: “The overwhelming majority of motorists using the City Hospitals Sunderland car parks do so without any issues.

“In Mr Richardson’s case, he incorrectly entered his registration at a pay-and-display machine. However, he followed our clear and simple appeals procedure, so we investigated his case.

“We found someone had inputted a registration around the time he said he entered the car park so we attributed this to him and cancelled his charge.

“When using our pay-and-display machines the correct registration must be entered as highlighted on the numerous information signs across the car parks.”

Twitter: @tomwhite7