Residents petition for controlled parking as hospital visitors cause upset

Ridgmount Street parking - Adrian Wilshire and Suresh Sundai.
Ridgmount Street parking - Adrian Wilshire and Suresh Sundai.

People who live close to Bedford Hospital are up in arms over visitors and health workers parking in their streets after adjacent roads became Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ).

They claim those parking have displayed an ‘aggressive and dissmissive attitude’ towards residents.

Parking in Ridgmount Street, Bedford.

Parking in Ridgmount Street, Bedford.

Locals say the situation has got much worse since the council started metering nearby roads from July 1.

Ridgmont Street businessman and resident Suresh Sundai told the T&C: “We have consultants and doctors park outside our houses to avoid paying the charges from either the hospital car park or metered roads such as Aspley Road opposite. They have been rude and dismissive to me. I said to one man in a suit who had just parked his expensive car outside my house which blocked the access to my neighbour’s garage - and who had his hospital pass hanging around his neck - ‘Please don’t park here.’

He replied in an aggressive and dismissive manner: ‘I don’t care. I have no intention of paying to park anywhere.”

Another resident Adrian Wilshire said: “I have a terminal illness but I still help with my children’s school run. One morning last week after I had returned from dropping my kids at school and doing a bit of shopping, a car pulled up behind my car as I was attempting to take my bags of shopping to my house. The driver said to me: ‘Move. I want to park here.’ When I said why don’t you use the CPZ roads, the man became extremely agressive. He actually got out of his car and swore at me and confronted me in an aggressive manner. I could see his Bedford Hospital pass around his neck. I didn’t like it. Due to my terminal illness I use the hospital a lot. I see lots of faces who work there, and those same faces park their cars outside my house.”

The T&C also talked with a nurse who works at the hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying: “Everyone in the hospital talks about avoiding parking charges because I have heard doctors and consultants speak about it. Their attitude is very dismissive of residents concerns - they just don’t care.”

Mr Sundai also explained drivers avoiding CPZ has led to lorries unable to unload at the nearby industrial estate. He also pointed to a misleading sign erected by the council in July on the corner of Ridgmount Road and Ampthill Road blocking his CCTV camera, reading: ‘Pay and Display’ - when the road is clearly not a CPZ.

Mr Sundai added: “I was so frustrated by this situation I started a petition so we can become CPZ. We have over 200 signatures already. I want the council to sort out this situation which has worsened considerably.”

Another resident Karl West said: “It’s diabolical. I’ve had hospital people parking on my pavement. My four-year-old son is disabled and can’t walk far - but because I have to park so far from my house when someone from the hospital has parked outside it I have had to carry him hundreds of yards which has upset him. It’s a stressful situation. I know they are from the hospital as they have hospital badges on. They just don’t care - this is a big issue.”

A Bedford Hospital spokesman said: “We provide onsite parking for our staff and patients and encourage the use of these designated spaces. Unfortunately the trust does not have any jurisdiction over parking on public roads and we are unable to prevent staff or patients from parking on nearby streets. We appreciate parking is an issue for local residents and we are aware Bedford Borough Council continues to work with them to address the situation.

“If staff intend to park on nearby streets we would expect them to do so courteously. We are concerned to hear isolated reports of NHS employees being rude to local residents; this is not the behavior we would expect of our staff.”

He said anyone with concerns can also contact the hospital.

A council spokesperson said: ““At the request of local residents, a Controlled Parking Zone was introduced in a number of streets around Bedford Hospital South Wing. A number of streets declined to be included in the CPZ scheme, despite advice from the council that displaced motorists may start to use their road instead. The council has been clear throughout this process it will not force CPZ’s on residents and if approached by local residents would be happy to discuss any future amendments to the scheme.”