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West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust's disabled parking plans delayed
Plans to charge disabled drivers to park at Watford General Hospital have been delayed while a consultation exercise takes place.
The new charge for blue badge holders was due to be introduced at the start of April, but West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has announced this has been put on hold while a "listening exercise" is conducted.
A survey on the parking habits of patients and visitors to the hospital, in Vicarage Road, has been published online, but has met with widespread criticism from people trying to fill it in.
Leigh Hutchings, from Disability Watford, said: "I completed the parking survey and there was no mention of where to get help if you could not fill it in yourself and needed help on the phone until you pressed the submit button.
"In other words, you have to finish the survey before you can ask for help. It’s a real mess."
In January the Watford Observer reported how blue-badge holders were to be charged the same minimum tariff as any other visitor Watford, St Albans and Hemel hospitals.
Currently the cheapest parking ticket in Watford General Hospital is £4 for three hours, which drivers have to buy no matter how short their visit.
After that motorists have to pay £6 for five hours or £12 to park all day.
The plans have now been put on hold until the results of the survey are out.
Louise Gaffney, director for strategy and infrastructure, said: "To try and ensure the survey is as open, accessible and understandable as possible, all the questions were reviewed and feedback incorporated from a number of patients, including blue-badge holders, and our staff representatives.
"The proposed charges for disabled parking have been put on hold until the results of the listening exercise are available. The trust welcomes and values everyone’s opinion. "All views will be listened to and I would urge as many people as possible to complete the survey to help influence the future management of hospital transport and car parking".
The survey is available online at http://travel-survey.com/whht2013/ and can be picked up from reception desks and restaurants at Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Watford General Hospitals, or a postal copy can be requested by telephoning 01923 436280.