PEOPLE who do not park properly in Gwent hospital car parks and grounds could be fined up to £80 under proposals being considered by Aneurin Bevan Health Board.

The move is designed to tackle what a report calls the “commonplace” practice of “illegal and dangerous parking” and is initially proposed for the Royal Gwent, St Woolos, Nevill Hall, County, and St Cadoc’s Hospitals.

Health board members agreed that a charging scheme should be developed, but some are concerned it fails to address the key underlying problem of too few parking spaces.

Hospital car parking is, says the board report, a longstanding, “emotive” issue for patients, visitors and staff.

But practices such as parking incorrectly in designated bays, the misuse of disabled bays, blocking fire lanes and building entrances, and part-parking on verges contribute to congestion and health and safety risks.

It acknowledges however, that a lack of spaces is a major problem. Gwent hospitals have the fewest spaces in Wales, based on their occupied floor area.

On weekdays, hundreds more cars are parked on Gwent hospital sites than there are spaces.

In recent audits, the Royal Gwent recorded 1,396 cars, 300 more than the spaces available, Nevill Hall recorded 1,151 cars, 242 above capacity, while St Woolos recorded 363 cars against 206 designated spaces.

The system being considered for Gwent would see health board staff issuing Parking Charge Notices using handheld terminals that photograph infringements, and record registration numbers and incident details.

A written ticket would be fixed to the vehicle and the information sent to a health board-appointed outside agency which pursues payment. The board would set the charge, which could range from £40-80.

Independent board member (community) Philip Robson said the root cause is not inappropriate parking but a lack of spaces. “You see people parking on verges but it is sometimes a case of ‘needs must’,” he said. “We need to be aware it will make the experience of users of our services worse not better.”

Fellow independent board member Joanne Smith said introducing charges will generate complaints, and “there needs to be good signage and a clear process of appeal”. Independent member (trades union) Jane Carroll, said inappropriate parking inside barrier parking areas should be included in the charging scheme, too.

Report author Jamie Marchant, the board’s divisional director of facilities, said charging is intended as a deterrent rather than a sanction, and is not about “creating a revenue and income stream”.

Board chairman David Jenkins said problems had included lorries being unable to deliver oxygen supplies because cars were parked where they needed to unload.