Fringe Box



Council Is Providing Unintended ‘Free Parking’ For University And Hospital

Published on: 28 Feb, 2019
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2019

Sign at the entrance to the Onslow park and ride site.

Twice as many people parking at the Onslow park and ride site were using it for free parking rather than a park and ride, revealed a straw poll by The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

Other than a sign at the entrance, there was no evidence that Guildford Borough Council (GBC), who manages the site, were enforcing parking use.

GBC has had plans since 2017 for an exit barrier to administer parking including, imposing a £20 parking fine, but these have not been implemented.

During the survey on the mornings of Friday, February 15 and again on Tuesday, February 26, a steady stream of young men and women were seen climbing the boundary fence and walking towards the Surrey Sports Park car park.

A smaller number were walking along the Richard Meyjes Road in the direction of the Royal Surrey County Hospital.

The car park was about half full on both days, possibly slightly busier on the 26th. This was one of the two UCAS days being run by the University of Surrey.

The straw poll did not include those who said that they were attending the UCAS event and had parking permits issued by the university for the day.

Many people were not catching the park and ride buses but were using the ‘free’ car parking and then climbing over the fence and heading towards the University of Surrey or walking towards the Royal Surrey County Hospital and the Surrey Research Park.

About two thirds of those questioned said that they were students using the free car parking. The remaining third said that they were working or attending the hospital.

One student told The Guildford Dragon NEWS that she had tried to get a University of Surrey parking permit but there weren’t any available. “I’m willing to pay.” she said.

While it is not a scientific survey, it does confirm the view that the car park is being used for free parking rather than exclusively as a park and ride site. It opened in 2013, was funded by a £4 million government grant which is understood to stipulate that it must be used as a park and ride car park.

There has been pressure on parking in the surrounding area. The Royal Surrey County Hospital was named by the BBC as having the most expensive one hour parking in the UK. Tesco in Ashenden Road recently tightened parking restrictions blaming hospital visitors using the supermarket’s car park. The Surrey Research Park is known to suffer from limited parking.

Aerial view of the Onslow park and ride site (on the right) and the Surrey Sports Park car park (on the left).

A council spokesperson said: “The council will bring the barrier controls at Onslow park and ride into use in the next couple of months. After that, parking will still be free to those using the park and ride bus service.”

In October 2018 a council spokesperson said: “To install the electrical supply to enable the barriers to become operational, it has been necessary to arrange for a wayleave agreement across land that is not within Guildford Borough Council’s ownership.

“Although the arrangement of this has taken much longer than anticipated, it is now in place. We are now waiting for the statutory undertakers to connect the power, and we would hope to have the barriers in operation in the coming months.”

Park and ride is seen as an important way of keeping cars from the town centre. The four park and ride sites (Spectrum, Artington, Merrow and Onslow) provide more than 2,600 car spaces.

But use of Guildford’s park and ride sites has gone down by nearly 7% between 2016-17 and 2017-18 says Guildford Borough Council Annual Parking Report. However: “Funding for the park and ride services continues to be met from the parking surplus.”

See also: Council Intends to Stop Non-Park & Ride Motorists Using Onslow Car Park

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Responses to Council Is Providing Unintended ‘Free Parking’ For University And Hospital

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    February 28, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Was the UCAS two day event use of P&R (and Tesco’s) agreed between the university and GBC Parking? It seems to have been a formal arrangement with instructions and passes. Was this part of the cosy GBC/university arrangement again?

    Long discussion and speculation “Guildford Town Past & Present” on Facebook for this week and ongoing problems for months/years.

  2. John Lomas Reply

    February 28, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    The way to scupper that is Pay to Park and Ride for free on presentation of Parking Stub with similar tickets to those supermarkets use for in-store claim back.

  3. Regina Redpath Reply

    March 1, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Before putting in penalisers and barriers please check out the Park and Ride during university holidays – if it is as good as empty – there might be a point.

    Hospital staff are not permitted to make use of all those empty spaces – the same ones that the university seems to enjoy non gratis.

    But, for a Park and Ride – completely the wrong location perhaps? Isn’t that what everyone said way back at planning time?

    And, oh dear, that queue off the A31 in the mornings; ‘man’-made and a hideous insult to London bound traffic.

  4. Gordon Bridger Reply

    March 1, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    It seems to me that there is a much better case for providing parking for Hospital staff, University and Researchers than for Park and Ride. So why not make a reasonable daily charge and let them use it? This economic cluster is much more important than the town centre.

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