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  1. ITV Report

NHS staff lose parking charge court case

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Doctors and nurses have been ordered to pay almost £70,000 in a row about parking tickets at their busy NHS hospital.

Seventy-five NHS staff lost a court battle - leaving them owing thousands of pounds in the unpaid tickets and fines.

A judge ruled a private parking contractor can collect all unpaid tickets plus fines for staff who parked illegally at Wales' biggest hospital.Workers at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, say they have been left "broken" by the order, with some quitting their jobs.

The judgement means each health worker must pay an average of £900 - but for many it will go into the thousands.

Campaigner Sue Prior, of Taff Ely Parking Action Group said the charges amounted to "a money machine". Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

It's horrendous. Some of them are broken. They're scared stiff, petrified, they feel sick. This affects everyone from cleaners to doctors.

We have had people going in and handing their notice in.

The judge made them all worth £128 a ticket and all enforceable. The money machine has started.

At the moment we just need to sit back and asses what we are going to do because it costs money to appeal.

It was like David and Goliath - and David lost.

– Sue Prior, Taff Ely PArking Action Group

The ruling by District Judge Clare Coates comes after a three day trial at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre.

The case involved three workers Stephen Dadswell, Emily Booth and Sophie Round - who parking contractor Indigo say have each racked up more than 100 parking tickets.

But the three NHS workers are part of a larger group of workers with unpaid tickets - and the hearing was seen as a test case for other staff who have also failed to pay.

Judge Coates' ruling means each unpaid ticket can be collected for £128 - amounting to a total of £39,000.

She also ordered the group will have to pay £29,000 costs. Speaking after the judgement, healthcare support worker Sophie Round, said: "I am gutted."

"It's not really the outcome that we wanted and what we earn doesn't really cover the fines."

Robert O'Brien, 35, quit his hospital job earlier this year when he was hit with almost £800 in fines from contractor Indigo, he now works as a salesman.

I quit my job with the NHS because of the stress of being hit with parking fines.

I loved the job but just couldn't take it any more.

I don't think it's too much to ask when you are working nights to be able to park at your place of work.

– Robert O'Brien
Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

In April last year, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Indigo agreed a new set of measures to improve car parking on the University Hospital of Wales site.

As a gesture of goodwill towards car park users, parking charge notices issued up to the end of March 2016 were cancelled.

In addition, the cost of a Parking Charge Notice was reduced to £10, if paid within 14 days.

Despite this, a number of people refused to pay for parking at the site.

They also ignored the resulting PCNs and declined to use the formal appeals process.

– Indigo spokesman

The spokesman said the court action was taken against "persistent offenders" who flout parking rules.

"As the company responsible for managing parking and ensuring the free flow of traffic at Cardiff UHW, we have an obligation to ensure enforcement of parking restrictions," the spokeswoman said.

"For this reason, and with the full support of the health board, we took the strongest possible action against this small group of persistent offenders."

"The court's ruling has justified our decision to take this action and we hope this sends a clear message to users of the car parks at Cardiff UHW that they follow the terms and conditions for parking."

The vast majority of over 98 per cent of staff comply with the parking regulations.

It is disappointing that a few people have chosen to refuse to co-operate with the contractors Indigo Parking Services UK and have chosen to pursue this through the courts.

All staff and others visiting University Hospital Wales are encouraged to comply with the parking regulations in order for us to keep the site, safe, free- flowing and allow access to emergency vehicles and vital health services.

We are aware there are significant financial costs and the financial hardship the staff have placed themselves in.

We encourage all staff to engage with Indigo Car Parking Service UK at the earliest opportunity to avoid mounting legal and court costs.

A high proportion our staff are involved in front line clinical duties.

We have arrangements in place for vital services that require easy access quickly such as on call surgeons and midwives and those whose skills are required urgently for patient care.

The vast majority of posts are covered by shift patterns and rotas that do not require the level of urgency claimed.

– Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, spokesman