Is this the most expensive car park in Ireland? €4 an hour at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital may be making a lot of money for the HSE but it is forcing a lot of people to park in surrounding streets and housing estates causing huge problems for residents.
A delegation of residents from the Windmill Road and Anneville Crescent area of Drogheda made a submission to Councillors and officials at Monday night’s Borough District meeting to outline the serious problems they are experiencing with the area being choked with vehicles parked all day every day.
The nub of the problem is that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital attracts huge volumes of traffic each day but they charge a whopping, some would say outrageous, €4 per hour (up to a maximum of €40 per day) in their car park.
It makes a lot of money for the HSE each year but the excessive parking fees are forcing many people, including hospital staff members, to park wherever they can find a space to save a few bob.
This leaves the surrounding streets and housing estates almost totally blocked much of the time and it is causing huge problems for local residents including the fact that they can seldom if ever park outside their own homes.
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Deliveries are nigh on impossible during the day and emergency services have found it difficult to gain access which gives rise to situations whereby ambulances and fire vehicles have in the past had to reverse out of the street.
The resident’s pleas were greeted with widespread support by Councillors who put the blame squarely on the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Hospital management.
Councillor Oliver Tully said that it was in everyone’s interest to find a solution. “The hospital are at fault so we need to be talking to them but their tone in the past has been ‘it’s not our problem’ but we need to look at this in terms of how we can help” he added.
Cllr. Paul Bell said that the Garda Siochana were not helping the situation by “continually ignoring illegal parking in the area.” He also said the HSE are not treating the matter seriously. “Unfortunately the HSE see it as something that is remote from them” he said. “They think it’s just a bunch of residents, they’ll go away.”
It had been agreed at a previous meeting that the Council would seek a meeting with the hospital management but it transpired that this had not happened which also angered many of the councillors.
“If members ask for a meeting to be set up by the executive than it should have been done” said Cllr. Kevin Callan.
Sinn Féin Councillor David Saurin said that with willingness from all parties the issue could be easily resolved but that was not forthcoming from the HSE.
“There’s no reason why the shuttle bus service (from the large car park at Crosslanes) could not be continued and security staff retained” he said, adding that “the elephant in the room is that the hospital parking charges are just too high!”
His party colleague, Cllr. Joanne Byrne, said she was “outraged” that the meeting not been requested and the excuse given by the local authority was that they would have no control over the actions of the HSE and could not guarantee any co-operation from them.
"With all due respect” she said,“whether you deem it necessary or not is simply irrelevant. It is complete disregard on your part for previous agreements made on such an important issue, and complete disregard for the will of the members.
“I am re-iterating the request that this meeting is sought immediately and a report circulated to the members. I do not wish to return next month to the same laid back, uninterested approach from officials on this matter!"
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