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Widow spearheads fight against Royal Free's sky-high parking fees

PUBLISHED: 13:32 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:06 07 September 2010

AN 87-year-old woman has enlisted her neighbours and politicians in a battle to change parking rules at the Royal Free Hospital – where her husband died earlier this year. Hampstead Garden Suburb resident Joan Laurance, a leading member of the Friends of

AN 87-year-old woman has enlisted her neighbours and politicians in a battle to change parking rules at the Royal Free Hospital - where her husband died earlier this year.

Hampstead Garden Suburb resident Joan Laurance, a leading member of the Friends of the Royal Free for 49 years, wants the hospital to change its parking policies and lower its 'extortionate' fees of £3 an hour.

In January, she and her children were visiting the hospital where her beloved husband of 62 years, Pat, died during heart surgery.

While the family sat around his body grieving, her son-in-law had to rush to top up the meter.

Mrs Laurance said: "It's absolutely horrific that this can happen to people in a hospital - that people have to think of parking even at some of the worst times of their lives. It is wrong that people should be scared of parking when they have loved ones seriously ill or have just been bereaved."

Compared to the Royal Free £3 hourly rate, Barnet only charges £3 for the day - with reduced fees for in-patient visitors. The Whittington in Highgate Hill is free in the evening.

Mrs Laurance added: "Six months ago, I had major heart surgery and they asked me to come back for follow-up physiotherapy. It would have worked out at £42 a week to park. I didn't go because it was too expensive."

Residents and MP Rudi Vis have added their support to her campaign.

Mr Vis said: "The Royal Free is extraordinarily expensive - we have to look at this."

Parking became free at hospitals in Wales last month and Mrs Laurance hopes legislators in England will consider this. She has also questioned why appointment cards cannot be used as parking permits and wants the hospital to introduce a CPZ-style scheme to dissuade commuters.

But the Royal Free denied there was any issue.

A spokeswoman said: "Parking charges were set in 2000 to deter commuters from using the spaces and they have not been raised since.


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