Labour candidate Jackie Baillie campaigning against parking charges at people’s workplaces. Above: Hospital visitors have to pay to park.
By Democrat reporter
The Scotland’s SNP government has paid out more than £5.6m to private finance firms at three big hospitals to waive public parking fees, The Ferret investigative journalism bureau revealed today
The news comes hard on the heels of an announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that the pandemic lockdown restrictions had been lifted for hospital visitors.
At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown last year the then health minister, Jeanne Freeman announced that “we cannot have barriers to staff working in the NHS,” and said car parking charges would be waived at three hospitals in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
At the time, the Scottish Government said it would pay the fees for three months at an estimated price tag of £955,000.
But new figures show the monthly costs have escalated over the year as deals to waive parking fees were extended.
It initially cost the government £357,000 per month to waive the fees at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. The new figures reveal the fees rose to more than half a million pounds per month from October 2020.
Officials also incurred additional costs of £126,000 negotiating the deals.
The private finance initiative (PFI) firms that benefit had already come in for criticism for refusing to waive their fees at the start of the pandemic.
The latest accounts of Parking Glasgow Ltd, the company that operates the Glasgow Royal Infirmary PFI contract, show that it made profits of £515,000 after tax in the year to March 2020.
Directors of the Parking Glasgow Ltd holding company said in their latest report that they expect Covid-19 to have “no impact” on the expected returns from the firm.
The latest accounts filed by Consort Healthcare, the company that operates the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary PFI contract, showed the firm made a £17.5m profit in 2019 – up more than £1m from the year before.
The full story on this is available on The Ferret website.