Infirmary parking gridlock might soon be resolved

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THE PERENNIAL problem of finding a parking space at Arbroath Infirmary could soon be a thing of the past if an accord reached by local councillors at a meeting in the ACCESS Office last Tuesday is ratified by the infrastructure services committee in January.

New car parking spaces would be provided on the Arbroath Common Good land opposite the infirmary.

Councillor David Fairweather said: “We had a very constructive meeting as we discussed the way forward for providing a car park at Arbroath Infirmary.

“We broadly came to the consensus that this could go ahead assuming that it gets the green light from committee during the January cycle.”

Local members also agreed a funding package which will see NHS Tayside pay over two thirds of the cost with the remainder being met from the Arbroath Common Good Fund.

Providing a car park on this ground to help outpatients attending diagnostic and treatment clinics has been on the cards since June, 2001, when plans to increase the number of clinics held at Arbroath Infirmary were first mooted.

At that time the then Arbroath councillors gave a commitment that if the clinics were provided and the increased number of outpatients generated a parking problem then the provision of additional car parking opposite the Infirmary would be looked at.

However it only became an active issue in March, 2009, when councillors Alex King and Bob Spink moved that a report examining the feasibility and costs of providing a car park on the Common Good land be brought forward as a matter of urgency.

That motion was defeated by an amendment by the ruling Angus Alliance which ruled out use of the Common Good land and sought to get NHS Tayside to provide extra parking within the Infirmary grounds.

Since then there have been a number of unsuccessful attempts to shoehorn extra car parking into vacant ground at the back of the Infirmary but none were realistic options in the attempt to relieve on street parking congestion around the hospital.

A report detailing the decisions of the Arbroath councillors at last week’s meeting will now go to Angus Council on Thursday, December 15, when it is expected to be ratified by all members of Angus Council.

Councillor Alex King commented: “I am delighted that common sense has eventually prevailed and the Alliance councillors who originally opposed the use of the Common Good land opposite the Infirmary have now also come to the conclusion that this is the only practical place to site an overflow car park for the Infirmary.

“It is a pity that it has taken almost three years to get to that position, but now that there is agreement by all the Arbroath councillors on both the location of the proposed car park and the sources of funding to build it I hope to see it in operation some time next year.”

Councillor Bob Spink added: I am very pleased that at last the way forward towards a hospital car-park in a suitable location has been agreed by the Arbroath Councillors.

“As I said three years ago, what better use can be made of the Arbroath Common Good Fund than to assist in the development of the hospital which serves the community and hopefully will do so for many years to come. The final decision will now be taken at full council on December 15 but with the support of all the Arbroath councillors this should cause no problem. It will also still have to go planning for approval, of course, but again I do not anticipate any problems there which cannot be overcome.

“The parking in and around the infirmary was a problem three years ago and the problem remains. It is a pity it has taken three years and an extra cost of £37,000 to get to where we are now.”