Bradley Stoke Town Council is to write to the owners of Bradley Stoke Surgery asking them “to look at ways of improving parking for their visitors and remind their staff about off-site parking”.
The move comes after the issue of inadequate car parking provision at the Brook Way site, which the surgery shares with a council-run community centre, was once again raised by readers of the Bradley Stoke Journal in response to an article about the future of an underused outdoor sports court that occupies a significant part of the site.
The situation came to a head after the town council introduced a policy of chaining off its half of the car park at certain times of the day, in order to ensure that spaces are available to hirers of the community centre, some of whom had complained that they were finding it impossible to park. In justifying the move, council officers also reported that potential long-term hirers had expressed “grave concerns” about the parking situation.
According to data provided to The Journal by the town council, the community centre side of the car park was chained off from before 8am (when the surgery opens) until 10am on 17 weekdays over a four-week period in November and December, with the chain being removed earlier on the other three weekdays. However, the recent installation of a large yellow sign stating that the town council’s side of the car park is “strictly for activity centre users” discourages surgery visitors from using that part of the car park, even when the community centre is closed.
With only 25 parking spaces available on the surgery side of the car park, some of which are used by staff, visitors have been resorting to parking along both sides of the curved access road into the site (off Brook Way) which creates difficulties for vehicles entering and leaving and, by the admission of both the town council and surgery owners, means it would be impossible for a fire engine or ambulance to gain access in an emergency.
Several Journal readers have commented that they find it frustrating to see the community centre side of the car park completely empty when the surgery side is full and vehicles are parked all along the access drive.
Reporting to a meeting of the town council in March, John Rendell, the council’s premises manager, said the problems had become progressively worse since the surgery was extended to more than double its previous size in 2010, at the same time losing eight parking spaces.
According to Mr Rendell: “The surgery and pharmacy staff take up the majority of the spaces leaving very few spaces [for patients] within the surgery car park.”
In a statement provided to The Journal by the partners of the surgery, they deny that any parking spaces were lost at the time of the extension, saying they “retained the same number of spaces for the same number of patients”. The problems have arisen, they claim, “due to [extra] facilities e.g. midwives, health visitors and pharmacy [now] being housed at our location. This was done to improve services for patients and decrease the need for them to travel elsewhere.”
The statement continues: “Our staff, including doctors, nurses, midwives and district nurses, have been asked to park elsewhere. There are, however, two exceptions: If they are incapacitated or if they are on call (therefore needing to access transport quickly).”
Measures that have been put in place to try to ease bottlenecks and unnecessary footfall through the surgery include on-line booking of appointments, longer opening hours (from 8am to 7.30pm Monday through to Thursday and until 6.30pm on Friday), telephone triage of urgent calls and ‘catch up’ slots for GPs, to reduce the time people might need to wait to see a doctor.
The town council approached the surgery earlier this year to ask if the partners would be prepared to contribute financially towards the cost of increasing car parking provision at the site, but they responded that they were not in a position to do so.
The partners’ recent statement explains: “We continue to serve over 15,000 patients from this site but because of our unique demographic, we are only funded for 10,000 which makes capital investment difficult to say the least and we are trying to prioritise the most essential spending on better healthcare.”
Following discussion at the December meeting of its Leisure, Youth and Amenities Committee, in response to questions submitted by the editor of the Bradley Stoke Journal, the town council will now “look into the costs of installing double yellow lines on both sides of the access road” and “investigate whether the wording on the new yellow car park sign can be amended to make instructions clearer for users”.
The future of the hard court area at the site, which some councillors and residents have suggested could be used for additional car parking, is due to be discussed again at a meeting of Full Council on Wednesday 15th January (7.30pm start).
This article originally appeared in the January edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to all homes in Bradley Stoke.
UPDATE: The town council has changed the wording on the large yellow sign (see final picture below) since the above article was written.
The signs they are a-changin’
Above: Sign displayed prior to December 2013.
Above: Sign displayed in early December 2013.
Above: Sign displayed in January 2014.
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