A HOSPITAL today defended the introduction of controversial new parking machines which prevent drivers from sharing unused pay-and-display tickets.
Sunderland Royal Hospital has installed the machines, which use number plate recognition, at its Chester Wing car park on a trial basis. Cameras at the entrance and exit take a photograph of plates as vehicles enter and leave the site.
The machines also require a registration number to be entered at a console.
Bosses at the hospital say the system is aimed at improving access and providing added security.
But some motorists fear the new machines could put an end to the custom of drivers who are leaving a car park handing over tickets with time left on them to others who are just arriving.
Dad Andrew Michaels, 29, from Sunderland, said he was shocked when he noticed the change.
He said: “I really don’t see why they need to be introduced. I’ve always given my ticket away if there was time left on it. A lot of people do. It’s a nice gesture.”
Another visitor, who did not want to be named, branded the machines “pointless”.
“I’ve been coming to the hospital for more than 30 years and if I’ve had any time left on my ticket as I’m leaving I’ve always tried to give it to another driver coming in,” said the 64-year-old, from Washington Village.
“You need to buy a minimum of £1.50 for an hour anyway.
“If you’ve still got half-an-hour or so left when you’re on your way out, it seems a bit of a waste to just throw it away.”
A City Hospitals Sunderland spokesman stressed that no parking fines would be issued during the trial.
“The new parking machines are part of a trial that we are running in the Chester Wing car park,” he said.
“It provides added security and safety by ensuring cars are parked safely and do not impede emergency access.
“No parking fines are being issued by the company at this point of the trial.
“If we do go ahead, suitable signage and information will be prominently displayed.”