Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
No to Southend cancer centre until parking problems are sorted, say campaigners
7:00am Friday 11th January 2013 in Local News
A HOSPITAL extension should be banned until parking problems in surrounding streets can be resolved, campaigners have claimed.
People living around Southend Hospital say any expansion should not go ahead while council bosses are working to stop patients and staff clogging up their roads.
Health chiefs want to build a new information centre to offer support and advice to cancer sufferers.
But Ric Morgan, an Independent councillor for Prittlewell who is leading the protests, said it was liable to cause even more problems.
He said: “We are currently reviewing the hospital parking management scheme, so to make changes while that is ongoing seems very counter-productive.
“Adding another block will surely mean more patients and more staff, and therefore more problems with parking.
“We should concentrate on solving the main issue first.”
Southend Council decided to impose parking restrictions in streets around the hospital in 2011, in response to repeated complaints from residents unable to park outside their homes.
Eighteen streets now have pay-and-display bays, a residents’ permit system and yellow lines.
However, anger over the issue flared up again last year after people living just outside the area covered by the scheme complained it had simply moved the problem to their roads.
The council is now consulting on plans to add additional streets to the scheme.
Hospital bosses and Macmillan Care submitted their proposals for a new cancer information centre in November.
They hoped to get a decision on the extension, which would be attached to the existing tower block, by the end of January.
Jacqueline Totterdell, the hospital’s chief executive, said it would have no impact on parking congestion as it was designed to help existing patients.
She said: “The plans aim to address this and are about giving the best possible service we can to existing patients, rather than increasing the numbers we see – an aspiration that we hope the planning committee and our local community will support.
“The issue of car parking in and around our site should therefore not be linked to this planning application.
“We ask staff and visitors to respect the fact we are based in a residential area and to ensure that if they do drive, that they park in a responsible and safe manner.
“However, we ultimately have no authority to prevent parking in streets where restrictions do not apply.”