Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WO to 80360, or email us
Disabled parking: West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust refuses to reveal contract details
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust released its contract with CP Plus but blacked out all the figures.
The health trust that oversees Watford General Hospital has refused to reveal details of its controversial parking contract.
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust released its contract with CP Plus, the company which runs its car parks and security, but blacked out all the figures.
The move follows a Freedom of Information request by the Watford Observer for the contract in the wake of a contentious plan to charge disabled people to park at its hospitals.
The trust justified the new charges, which come into effect next month, on the grounds it made a loss on its parking operations.
The redacted sections of the supplied contract include the set up cost, the annual operation cost, the staff rotas and cost, as well as pay and display and staff rota fees.
The reason for omitting the precise terms of the contract was cited as "qualified exemption 43(2)" of the Freedom of Information Act.
This part of the act allows the trust to protect its interests by withholding information which is "commercial, in confidence and could prejudice commercial interests".
A public consultation on the blue-badge charge is due to take place within the next week.
Leigh Hutchings from Disability Watford said he was hoping to meet with the trust’s chief executive to discuss the new charge but has been unable to arrange a meeting.
He said: "It’s not just people in wheelchairs who qualify for a blue-badge, sometimes people have invisible disabilities, terminal cancer or emphysema for example.
"Even people with severe learning difficulties, parking down the street and walking to the hospital can be a real be a problem, if they’re really bad they can’t go on public transport."
In the past the contract has also been cited as the reason the trust cannot lower its minimum parking charge of £4 despite requests from politicians in the town.
CP Plus’s latest accounts, for the year ending June 2011, show a profit of £1,710,278. The legible part of the contract details the role of the security staff, who are required to monitor the locks on doors and windows, patrol the site, attend any fire calls, major incidents or bomb threats and to keep fire exits free from obstacles.
The car parking staff are expected to keep traffic routes clear, to keep car parks free from non-paying customers, to be dressed appropriately and have a good standard of personal hygiene.
The document sets out how CP Plus’s performance will be monitored using a form, which is also not included, relating to the quality standards for both security and car parking.
Failure to comply with this would result in a financial penalty for CP Plus, as would an interruption in service caused by the incorrectly functioning equipment.
The contract describes the clamping of inappropriately parked vehicles as "essential" and said if clamping opportunities were missed on than four occasions during a month, then the trust would deduct a fee.
The trust declined to comment on the FoI request at the time of publication.