Calls for van parking at Borders hospital

Steven Porter of Porter's Porches in Galashiels.
Steven Porter of Porter's Porches in Galashiels.

A Galashiels businessman has hit out at Borders General Hospital for failing to provide suitable parking for vans during an emergency.

Steven Porter, director of Porters Porches, Galashiels, said he received a £40 fine when he parked his van in a lay-by absent of double yellow lines at the hospital on Monday, April 10. It was there he received stitches in his leg after slicing it open with glass during an incident at work.

The 46-year-old said: “I had done everything I thought was right as not to breach the sign I saw at the entrance about double yellow lines.

“The car park has signs saying to park between the lines but the spaces were not big enough as the van is a 31-tonne, long wheelbase van with a side rack.

“The area of the lay-by I parked in has no double yellow lines, no signs saying not to park there and at the far end of the lay-by, there is a yellow marked area for a bus stop which I was not in or obstructing in any way. There was a sign next to it that says ‘park at own risk’.”

Steven also claimed that he had spoken with the parking enforcement officer when he saw the ticket, but was told that he should have discussed the matter with the officer prior to parking his van, despite his emergency.

The car park is monitored by York-based parking enforcement company Minster Baywatch which failed to comment before we went to press.

However, a spokeswoman for NHS Borders said: “Hospitals are rarely able to offer spaces for excessively large vehicles and without knowing the size of the specific vehicle involved we cannot comment on how much of an obstacle it would have been to other users.

“We do not charge for using the car park and the rules for its use are designed to allow maximum capacity while ensuring the safety of its users.

“Our advice for those who require to park at the hospital in a larger vehicle would be to contact us in advance.”

“The complainant in this case is welcome to use the appeals process, details of which are on the back of the penalty charge notice.”

Steven has since appealed the £40 fine, which he has two weeks to pay or else he will be required to pay a higher charge of £90.

John Lamont, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, said: “Parking at BGH is already quite complicated with different lengths of time permitted in different car parks and there are too many instances of fines are handed out to vulnerable, elderly or understandably preoccupied patients and visitors making genuine mistakes.

“Clearly larger vehicles need to be careful when parking, but to require everyone to phone ahead in advance, even in an emergency, is just not practical.

The parking penalties were first introduced at Borders General Hospital back in 2013 and also include a 4% surcharge for payments made by debit or credit card.