PROPOSALS to charge people to park at a health centre have been met with fierce opposition – and been branded ‘a tax on the sick’.
Havant Borough Council is considering introducing charges at Hayling Island Health Centre, in Elm Grove.
The 100-space car park, owned by the council, is currently split into two, with charges in one section for people using nearby shops.
People using the health centre get to park for free, but the council is proposing to charge across the entire car park.
Up to one hour would be 50p, up to two hours 80p, up to three hours £1, up to four hours £2.50 and a stay of more than four hours would be £5.50.
Hayling pensioner Robin Walton, who uses the health centre to pick up prescriptions, said: ‘It seems very petty to me.
‘They should leave some things alone. It’s a good earner because the car park is full almost every day.’
The proposals come on the back of hikes across the borough, with the hourly parking fee going up from 70p to £1.
Mengham traders have launched a petition for the council to scrap all the hikes.
Hayling councillor Andy Lenaghan said he couldn’t support the charges.
He said: ‘People don’t know how long they are going to be in the health centre.
‘The doctor may require further tests and people will be paying for two hours. It’s basically a tax on going to the doctors and taxing the sick.’
Council leader Tony Briggs said there was no decision yet.
He said: ‘The bottom line is there’s a choice. We either put the rates up for everybody or we charge for people to use a facility. You choose to charge people to use a facility because it does not affect everybody. By doing it over a four-year period we have been able to keep local taxation low.’
He stressed that there were already charges at Havant Health Centre and Queen Alexandra Hospital.
He added: ‘Everybody seems to think these car parks don’t cost anything. We have to pay rates on them, maintain them, police them. It’s not just one great money-making scheme.’
Cllr David Collins, who oversees parking, is working on proposals for how the council can support local shopping areas. The council recently launched an hour of free parking on top of the first hour on the last Saturday of every month.