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HefmA: Disabled parking levy is ‘fair’

Tim Litherland, the national chairman of the Health Estates Facilities Management Association (HefmA) has told radio programme 5Live Investigates that if Hospital Trusts are deemed to be unfairly or illegally charging disabled motorists for parking, then other organisations across the country also fall foul of the law, in particular Local Authorities.

5Live reporter Chris Doidge said he had carried out a Freedom of Information Act request to every Hospital Trust in England, in which he asked if they charge disabled drivers to park, and if so, by how much. Out of the 116 NHS Truststhat responded, 37 of those do charge disabled motorists, with some of the car parks run by private companies and some of them by the Trusts themselves.

Litherland, whose interview with host Adrian Golberg was broadcast on Sunday (09 December 2012), said he believed it was fair for disabled motorists to pay parking charges as disability is not about ability to pay.

He said: "I'm comfortable in the sense that we have whole sectors of a community that come to a hospital that have physical reasons to want to be able to park closer to the point of service that they receive, and one could argue that there are people who are undertaking courses of treatment that equally require good access for the period of their treatment and could equally be considered to be disabled during at that time.

"Once they are fit they are able to go on their way. We are often not able to make particular benefits to them and I think we do make benefits to the registered disabled people by providing proper access to premises and parking within close proximity to premises."

Litherland agreed with Goldberg that the provision made for disabled people is about access and convenience rather than about ringing any financial advantage tothose motorists.

He said: "I think that's probably true, yes. As I said earlier, if they have difficulty in making payment then there are other mechanisms in place, certainly within the health service, to put supplementary provision in place and they could very well receive either very much reduced parking or free parking."