Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Bristol Eye Hospital - is this how a paid for car park should work?

Leaving aside the thorny question of whether hospitals should charge for parking, The Prankster would instead like to concentrate on the issue of the actual car park management, and whether it is run in a way that is fair to landowner, car park operator and motorist.

The Prankster therefore re-introduces...Bristol Eye Hospital and the Marlborough Hill ANPR car park.

At hospitals it is a general point that most visitors do not really know how long they will be there for - appointments overrun, other more needy cases may suddenly take priority, and so on.

This car park is therefore a pay on exit car park. The entrance and exit are monitored by ANPR cameras connected to the payment machines. On exit, the motorist types in their registration, the system knows how long they have been there, and informs them how much they need to pay. The motorist cannot type an incorrect registration by mistake, and does not need to know how long they stayed.

How well does this system work?

A recent freedom of information act spills the beans

Regarding the Marlborough Hill ANPR pay & display car park.
I understand that there have been no tickets issued for overstaying in this car park for the last 3 months. Please can you confirm this. 
We can confirm that there have been no Parking Charge Notices issued for overstaying in the car park for the last three months
This sounds like the system is working as intended. The motorist is paying the correct amount, and the hospital is getting the cash. What about the poor operator? They have no parking charge revenue at all?

The simple answer is that the operator has a contract with the hospital which ensures they get paid for their services. This means they have no incentive to maximise parking charges by using dodgy practices and making the system difficult to use.

The Prankster also had an extensive chat with the hospital facilities about this car park and spoke to very helpful chap who stated they were very happy with this car park, and that they try and run it in as fair a way as possible. For instance, if there is a hint that the machines break down, no charges will be issued. He gave an example that if the broadband link was down, then because some images may be missing they would automatically void any charges for the day.


Let us contrast this with a similar hospital setup, also using ANPR. Northumbria NHS uses ParkingEye at several hospitals under their control. Unfortunately, ParkingEye have designed the system to set the motorist up to fail. The motorist must guess the time they stayed, even though ParkingEye know this, and they must get their registration correct, even though ParkingEye know when an incorrect registration is entered. ParkingEye do not charge the hospital for their services at all, and make their money through aggressive enforcement policies. Figures released under the freedom of information act show that ParkingEye are raking in money from charges at the rate of around £1 million a year. Let us not forget that as this is a hospital there will be a large number of vulnerable people ParkingEye are bullying for this money.

The result in this situation is that the hospital are deluged with complaints and that motorists are very unhappy. Many motorists pay extra in case they get charged.

The only happy bunnies are ParkingEye, who are laughing all the way to the bank at having conned the hospital into introducing this wholly inappropriate system.

The Parking Prankster suggests that any motorists unhappy with the situation at Northumbria NHS (or any other hospital whose car parks are run by ParkingEye) should contact the trust's chief executive and supply them with a copy of the FoI results from Marlborough Hill Car Park to show them how the system should be run.

The chief executive of Northumbria NHS is Jim Mackey.

The operator running Marlborough Hill Car is Total Parking Solutions.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. I notice less percent of charges are being cancelled as time goes onl.

    August 64% September 52% October 39% - but it is difficult to read the table.

    It is my guess that PE are trying to achieve a target turnover which is beyond them, so as to satisfy their new masters - Capita!!!!!

  2. I thought Northumbria were dispensing with PE's services. I read somewhere they have been given notice to cease operations.

  3. But hang on, I thought the main selling point of Parking Companies is that without strict enforcement there would be total havoc on their car parks, with no-one paying for parking and with everyone parking as and how they wish...!?!?

    Clearly the people in Bristol must be very atypical of the rest of the country - because otherwise the Parking Companies' sales pitch would be a pile of dung? Shock horror?

  4. I suppose anything is better than the hospital parking in Preston. There you have to pay for parking as you arrive.......of course not knowing how long your appointment is going to take. He hospital seemed to conspire to make it as difficult as possible by giving about ten people the same appointment time and then they just call your name out seemingly at random. At one point my wife realised (after waiting two hours) that her parking was running out and told the receptionist she was going to pop out to top it up. She was informd that if her name was called whilst she was out, she would be classified as 'did not attend' and would got to the back of the queue for another appointment.
    Everything seemed to be designed to generate as much cash from the parking as possible.

  5. Peter, don't forget Ocram's not attribute to a complicated reason [a massive multi-party parking conspiracy] that which can be attributed to a simple reason [incompetence of NHS systems].