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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 14:09 GMT
Hospital parking charges defended
Great Western Hospital
Visitors to the Great Western Hospital pay 35-a-day to park
Parking charges of 35 per day at a hospital in Swindon have been defended as a deterrent to commuter parking.

Swindon Borough Council says the charge is in place to stop town centre workers parking at the Great Western Hospital on the outskirts and catching the bus.

Tony Foss, the council's transport manager, said the deterrent "was quite an effective one".

Money from the car park, which is managed by the council, goes back to the hospital.

"It clearly works because we don't have people paying 35 to park there, therefore it's pretty successful."

Short-term parking costs at the hospital range from 90p an hour to 20 for six to eight hours or 35 for more than eight hours.

The Great Western Hospital - on the outskirts of Swindon - opened in 2002 replacing the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) in Old Town.

Parking problem

Mr Moss said the charge was introduced there to stop workers parking at the old site and making the short trip into the town centre.

"The principle of using a high charge to deter commuters has been used before at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

"Before we set that charge we did have a problem with people in Old Town using the car park there. We set it there and it worked."

Swindon Borough Council has recently approved plans to build a park-and-ride next to the hospital.

The high charges were highlighted following a survey carried out by Which? magazine.

One reader told how he spent more than 100 over eight weeks visiting his sick father at the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the Great Western Hospital said that some patients and family do not have to pay the charges.

"There are various wards that do have exceptions made and that is dependant on the severity of the situation.

"For example, if someone has come in and given birth the father can come into the hospital car park with an exclusion permit."

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