CONGESTED streets around Barnsley Hospital could soon be a ‘thing of the past’ thanks to an ambitious plan to create a new park and ride facility near the M1, the Chronicle can reveal.The hospital has identified suitable land at Capitol Park in Dodworth for the scheme, which has been fast-tracked due to ongoing issues with inconsiderate parking on clogged-up side streets around Gawber Road and Summer Lane.It’s hoped the park and ride will mirror the success of Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s facility and alleviate hostility between hospital users and residents, who Coun Peter Fielding said have started painting their own yellow lines on streets.
“The hospital site only has capacity for parking for about half of its staff, and there is insufficient capacity to cope with patient and visitor parking demand,” Coun Fielding, who represents the Dodworth ward, told the Chronicle.“The result of all this is congestion in the area. Local councillors have declared an air pollution emergency as residential streets within half a mile or more of the hospital being filled with parked cars and patients missing appointments.“Consequently, I have had discussions with the hospital management to try and find a solution to these problems. I was encouraged to hear the desire of the hospital to remedy these parking problems to help staff, visitors, patients and residents.“Staff are increasingly suffering verbal abuse and damage to their vehicles from irate residents. Residents are starting to paint their own yellow lines on streets, put up their own residents-only parking signs and protect street parking spaces with wheelie bins.“It is becoming a very hostile situation that many hospital staff are finding unpleasant and residents find increasingly frustrating.“The hospital would like to obtain a piece of land at Capitol Park to use as a park and ride service for both staff and patients and have set aside funding for the administration and operation of such a scheme.”Summer Lane, Queen’s Avenue, Bingley Street, Brierfield Close, Victoria Crescent and Welbeck Street have all been identified as particular flare-up points where it’s alleged both hospital staff and visitors have abandoned their vehicles to avoid parking fees.Coun Fielding added: “This is an ideal opportunity for Barnsley Council to partner with the hospital to help reduce congestion, air pollution and the parking misery around that area. “It would help to reduce air pollution around our schools and be a strong signal that declaring a climate emergency actually meant something.“I congratulate Barnsley Hospital on their efforts to introduce this scheme and I call on Barnsley Council to show that they can invest in this sustainable transport solution with the same vigour and enthusiasm it puts into building roads on its parks.” Hospital bosses revealed that £250,000 has already been spent upgrading its car park barriers to improve traffic flow, while car share schemes have been encouraged.However, they admitted that the current parking provision is simply not big enough, with approximately 3,800 staff - excluding visitors - battling over 1,200 spaces.A hospital spokesperson said: “We recognise that this is a long-standing and difficult situation for our neighbours, staff, visitors and patients.“We are continuing to invest where appropriate and we are working with the council to look at a number of options to try to improve the situation in as sustainable way as possible.“As a hospital, we are committed to ensuring our environmental impact is as low as possible. We understand that the air quality in the areas around the hospital has been measured and is not cause for concern, but we continue to support cleaner air initiatives.”