The District Council’s parking levy at the new ambulance dispatch point in Crewkerne, has been judged as unfair by the League of Friends of Crewkerne Hospital. South Somerset District Council is insisting that £1,000 per year must be paid in parking charges for the ambulance parking space outside of West One doctor’s surgery in the West Street car park. SSDC are claiming that the special reserved parking space for an ambulance, carrying life saving equipment with paramedics on board, has meant the loss of 2 public parking spaces and loss of revenue.

The League of Friends of Crewkerne Hospital have agreed to pay the parking levy for 5 years but are dismayed by SSDC’s attitude to the situation. Chairman Ron Bond is both saddened and disappointed with the SSDC’s demands. Mr Bond said: “I have to say that this goes against what I believe to be fair to the community and the people of Crewkerne and district. The League agreed to cover this fee for the first 5 years, to ensure that the project could proceed more quickly. The money that is raised by the League is donated to provide improvement to our hospital and for care in the community, not to provide the District Council with a guaranteed income from parking spaces in a car park that frequently has empty places. To put this into perspective, the League could have used this money to provide an additional two defibrillators for the benefit of the whole community.”

Talks to provide the ambulance dispatch point began following a meeting with Ron Bond and Yeovil based paramedic Kathy Thomas, at a social function two years ago. Given that it would be a potentially life-saving facility for Crewkerne, as it would dramatically cut response times, the League agreed to help with the project. Backing for the project was quickly given by the Ambulance Service and the West One doctor’s surgery.

Mr Bond said: “It took months of negotiations before the District Council finally agreed to allow the Ambulance Service to have a parking space adjacent to the surgery. This is vital if the medical emergency equipment in the ambulance is to be kept fully charged and ready to use. The League of Friends are delighted that such an important facility for the people of the town and district is now up and running.It is very disappointing that the District Council took such a negative stance and only reluctantly agreed to the proposal on the understanding that they are paid an annual fee of £1,000 for the use of the parking space.”

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