Surgery visitors frustrated by town council’s parking restrictions

Chaotic car parking at Bradley Stoke Surgery.

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’

Car park sign (before December 2013).

Above: Sign displayed prior to December 2013.

Sign displayed in the car park in early December 2013.

Above: Sign displayed in early December 2013.

Sign displayed in the car park in January 2014.

Above: Sign displayed in January 2014.

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  1. Are these the same council officials who, having been unable to foresee the future need growth of a very small car park, expect us to believe their estimate that thousands of extra houses (and hence at least double that number of cars) in our area will have zero impact on already-congested roads.

    They live on a different planet to the rest of us.

  2. Surely its the NHS and the doctors surgery that have expanded and built extra space but didn’t provide enough parking spaces, exactly the same thing will happen at Little Stoke Surgery. another fantastic bit of journalism by the Journal get your facts in order before publishing such rubbish!

  3. @No Name: As stated, the article was written following complaints by many Journal readers that the activity centre side of the car park is not being used to best advantage for the public at large. Whether the surgery should have provided more spaces when it expanded is a separate issue.

    As a resident of Bradley Stoke, I drew it to the attention of Bradley Stoke Town Council that the wording on their new sign was not consistent with the policy they had previously agreed (regarding chaining off their side of the car park). Although they were reluctant to admit this, they have now changed the wording and I have noticed that the car parking situation has since improved.

    To the best of my knowledge, all the “facts” in the article are correct.

  4. And planning permission would have been given by the Council for the surgery and the subsequent extension. The council are directly involved in this mess

  5. @anon-e-mouse: Planning permission is determined by South Gloucestershire Council (not the town council). When the surgery applied to expand its floorspace by 150% in 2007, the town council raised “concerns over parking” but did not formally object. South Gloucestershire Council refused permission, one of the reasons being “inadequate measures taken to discourage additional car use” (n.b. not inadequate parking provision). The decision was appealed and subsequently overruled by the Planning Inspectorate in July 2008.
    Read more:

  6. Let’s not forget that a site was reserved at the town centre (opposite Tesco’s petrol station) for another GP surgery and that it was the preferred site for Dr Todd back in the 1990’s- early 2000’s. At that time a price could not be agreed and the land still stands vacant.

    In the mid 2000’s I attended a meeting of the local GP surgeries and local Cllrs and whilst the local Cllrs were urging the PCT (Primary Care Trust) to bring in another practice the local surgeries were all saying “Not a problem, we’ll expand to can cope with the extra residents”; and the PCT believed them!

    Well, almost 10 years on it’s clear that they can’t cope and extending existing surgeries was not the best way to deal with the problem.

    Unfortunately, it’s too late now to get that piece of land back and we’re stuck with an unsatisfactory situation.

    Is there a solution…?

  7. Why can’t the existing car park just be made bigger? There is a huge pathed area outside the surgery. The carpark could extend right up to the door with a ‘normal’ sized path. Cut down all those trees and Tarmac the grass. Re-jig the entrance to remove the long ‘drive’. I bet the cost of the sign would cover it…… Alternatively just wait for a space to become available as the doctors are always running late anyway!

  8. @Resident Evil: Reply from BSTC regarding costs: “Thanks to [the council’s activity centres manager’s] good working relationship with one of our contractors, there was no charge to change the sign.” (That refers to the second change.)

  9. Bradley Stoke is a great place…especially with an amazing City council that love to create problems. So…..we have a Surgery which is a VITAL service in Bradley Stoke. Next to the Surgery there is an activity centre that is opened and used only a few times per week/month. So who has the Clever and Great idea to close the parking from the Activity Centre? I hope this is not the Mayor! It would be a proof that this person is not qualified for the job! A Surgery is much more important than an activity Centre! Or Am I wrong?
    Don’t you think it is bad enough that we have to queue outside on the cold to get an appointment or to phone non stop from 8.30 (often to be told….no more appointments are available). A City Council should be here to help and solve problem. Not to create another one. As in a lot of European Countries….a Mayor should be directly elected by us. He/She should have a programme for 4/5 years and we should vote directly. Because at the moment in Bradley Stoke it looks like we are living in a small non democratic place. And now Tesco has 4 1/2 hours of parking, the owner of the Hollow Tree is saying he is loosing £500/a day of business (probably more due to the extremely bad waiting service….than lack of parking.:)), and sure soon Aldi will have something to say about the parking too. SURGERY should be a priority! OR have extremely cheap bus ticket to move within Bradley Stoke.

  10. On attending the Doctors surgery in October I noticed the car park outside the Activity Centre had been chained off with a new sign stating use by Activity Centre users only.This area was informally used by patients visiting the Doctor when the surgery car park was full.I spoke to the receptionist about it and on returning home had a lengthy conversation with a person in the Town Council office and also left a message with Jack Lopressi’s office expressing my concerns.It seems that the problem has been caused by the council chaining off this area in the last six months and the situation has escalated from there.Let me remind you that we are talking about people here not cars,people who are old sick and disabled who need to see a Doctor and let me remind the council that patients needs need to come first always over and above profits.This council is elected by us and appear to have lost sight of their humanity.By all means work out a solution for the future with the Doctors surgery but remember what your priorities should be.

  11. Well said Lynn and Henry.

    Take note people like JonBoy and other town council lurkers here. Your priorities and humanity have been lost. You are dealing with the needs of sick people. Sick elderly people, sick children. Do you REALLY expect them to catch the bus when they are ill?

    Get a grip and do the right thing.

    Can I encourage everybody to fill in the current consultation over this? SH, could you add a link please?

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