Saturday, 31 October 2015

The caring Tory M.P.'s.

Here's Philip Davies, a kind and caring Conservative M.P. posing with Carers UK and Macmillan Cancer Support to pledge that he will stand up for Carers while he's in Parliament.

Nice Photo opportunity Phil;

This is an article from today's Guardian newspaper;

Filibustering Philip Davies MP pledged his support to carers as part of the national Carers Week 2015 awareness campaign, in June. Photograph: Carers Week
Tory MP's filibuster blocks bill to give carers free hospital parking
Philip Davies speaks for 93 minutes to use up time allocated to debate Labour MP Julie Cooper’s private member’s bill

Frances Perraudin
The Guardian.

Friday 30 October 2015

A Conservative MP has blocked a proposed law to introduce free hospital parking for carers by speaking in the House of Commons for 93 minutes in order to use up the time allocated for the debate.

A private member’s bill brought forward by Julie Cooper, Labour MP for Burnley, set out a proposed exemption to hospital parking charges for carers. At the moment hospitals have discretionary powers to grant exemptions to parking charges.

Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, deployed a tactic called filibustering – where MPs speak for so long that a vote is delayed or prevented – and spoke about his opposition to the bill for more than an hour and a half.

He was aided by the Conservative MPs Christopher Chope and David Nuttall, who spoke for another hour and 20 minutes between them.

Davies said the proposals would mean “higher car parking charges for everybody else who visits the hospital in order to protect that revenue stream for the hospitals”.

Nuttall, the MP for Bury North, said it was inevitable that one of the consequences of the bill would be to “divert part of the healthcare budget that could otherwise be used for frontline national health services, potentially life-saving services, to cover car parking maintenance and all the associated costs”.

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood condemned the tactics deployed by some on the government benches. “Owing to the assassins on the government benches more than two hours of time has, bizarrely, been taken up, and I do not think that I will be able to go into all the important issues that I wished to raise,” he said.

The bill will now go to the bottom of the pile of private members’ bills, but health minister Alistair Burt said the guidance principles sent to hospital trusts by the government detailing who should be granted concessions or exemptions would now explicitly mention carers.

Cooper, who introduced her hospital parking charges (exemption for carers) bill to the Commons for its second reading, said the charges placed an unfair financial burden on those caring for disabled, seriously ill or older friends and relatives.

She spoke about her experience of caring for her own mother when she was in hospital. “Each night when I left tired and distressed I queued up to pay for my parking,” said Cooper.

“At that time it was costing me £40 a week. On one of those days driving out of the car park, it occurred to me that I was lucky because I could afford to pay this charge and I went on to reflect on the matter and I thought what about those people who can’t afford to pay?”


I've been battling about parking fees for two years now - they just get higher and higher.

Hospitals do allow some groups free parking......but they don't advertise the fact.

Meanwhile most of those who aren't eligible are usually on low incomes.

I've documented how St. Peters and Wexham Park hospitals charge outrageous parking fees to patients and visitors and then spend all the money on collecting money, security and sometimes on private contractors.

The NHS is underfunded but inventing underhanded taxes on patients and visitors is just plain.......underhanded.

When did you ever hear of an NHS manager or board of governors ever campaigning for more money for their hospital?

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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Friday, 30 October 2015

The halloween season!

Obviously, I need to get out more.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Thursday, 29 October 2015

55,000 Thanx!

It's been a fairly grim month - I got ill about 5 weeks ago and passed it on to Robyn.

I look rather like our pumpkin at the moment - irritated at wasting this time.

So, it's been a real boost to hit 55000 views....thank you.

It's nothing really, just a drop in the ocean of the net but it does keep my Blog high in the search results and that keeps my campaign alive.

I know that's right by the number of people who contact me.

And given how frightened most people are about complaining about the treatment they receive, it's good that there is something out there that shows them they are not alone.

My days of flyposting, leafleting and generally making a nuisance of myself are over but the Blog still has some effect.


We did celebrate, Robyn made Pumpkin Pancakes (quite a meal) and I iced mine, with a little help!

A Lotta Continua!
The struggle continues!
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A smooth night at The Red Lion.

On Monday (still ill), we struggled in to Isleworth to our Jazz club at the Red Lion.

We were in for a treat, a couple of occasional performers who brought a bit of youth and some contemporary influences with them.

This is Richard Rossi playing some delicate jazz guitar;

While this is Paul Booth on Saxophones just in front of Tim Wells on bass;

I'm not that contemporary where jazz is concerned and I certainly don't have any smooth edges even after all these years but I did enjoy this variety of Modern was one of those evenings that disappeared in moments.

John Horler was on keyboards and Trevor Tomkins on Drums - a fine night.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Down at the Doctors.

I took a picture of this greetings card a while ago - it seems appropriate as I'm off to Charing Cross hospital for my last 'infusion'.

The first was last April and I was in Hospital on the 'no hope' cancer ward and screaming in pain.

When they told me I was having an 'infusion' I thought they meant a herbal tea and I was impressed - how very holistic.

I soon learnt.

I'm a lot better than I was back then but I still have real problems - could do with another 6 months of infusions.

And we're both still ill. Hopefully, normal service will soon be resumed.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Monday, 26 October 2015

Jack O' Lantern.

We finally got round to cutting our Jack O' Lantern for Halloween.

It's quite symbolic for me because last year I was OK until about mid November, in fact we were having a nice time.

Then it all went wrong. The year since has been really, really tough.

Lots of pain.

So, cutting the pumpkin was a big deal. This is me taking the top out;

This is the expert at work;

With a complicated pattern;

And a big knife, gulp;


Jack's looking pretty good this year;

We had an All American day - in the afternoon we watched American Football played out at Wembley stadium (Buffalo Bills vs Jacksonville Jaguars) but I have absolutely no idea what happened.

We supported the Jaguars and I spent half the time thinking they'd lost and it turned out that they'd won.


Then we watched Back to The Future III - last Wednesday was the 21st October 2015 - 'Back to the Future Day'. This was the impossibly future day that the Professor and Marty McFly set the clock on the time travelling De Lorean to.

All week the films have been showing and everyone's been talking about how accurate the second film was about how life would be like today.

Then I roasted the Pumpkin seeds and we spent the rest of the evening talking and crackin' pumpkin seeds.

How cool is that?
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Time wasting.

As you can see, we're wasting time;

When I took this I was really ill....again. Today it's Robyn's turn.

This virus is the gift that just goes on giving.

It's very annoying because we should have been doing things this month.

Not least - I have some 'interesting hospital appointments coming up in the next couple of weeks.

We're both still hoping to get normal service resumed as soon as possible!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production....really)

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Saturday, 24 October 2015

A temporary freedom.

I've been scrabbling about trying to find........

.....some ancient Paraffin (or for Robyn 'kerosene') which I had to pour out of a really elderly container. It's supposed to be blue or red but it faded over the years.
It's the price of admission to a really exclusive event.
Can you guess from the specks that have got onto my camera lens?

They are drops of Paraffin (Kerosene) flying all around us.

I'm not sure this is going to help you either;

This weekend the clocks go back as British Summer Time ends - now it will be dark in the afternoon. I'm grumpy about it because spring might have been nice but I was too ill to enjoy it.

By the time I was back on walking sticks the summer was over.

I'm not dealing with it very well.

The only thing to do was to celebrate;

These are 'The M25 Fire Spinners' and they meet every month under the M25 Motorway at Egham, where the Thames goes under the road.

You can find them on FaceBook.

They meet near Budgens and have a little procession along the high street - we joined up with them a bit further on - then we all made our way to the bridge;

It's an incredible space; the river was black and still and above us the great arches of the bridge were like the flying buttresses of a medieval cathedral.

We spoke to Lorenzo who told us that they meet up because Egham is "so's our temporary freedom".

These are real circus skills and it all took place against a loud background of Balkan Gypsy music and House.

There were drummers and everywhere a strong smell of Paraffin (Kerosene).

And fire!

There was fire eating and juggling;

I'm not sure where the evening went - in a matter of moments two and a half hours had gone up in smoke;

I can't think of a better way to party.

Robyn's already taken the first steps to spinning fire and we've promised that next month it's our turn;

I loved the fact that I've driven over the M25 bridge a thousand times and never realised what was going on underneath.

That we were having such fun while quiet Egham dozed in front of the TV.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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Friday, 23 October 2015


Robyn took this photo a couple of months ago.

I was trying on a pair of jeans in a charity shop changing room when I heard gales of laughter from Robyn and the shop lady outside.

I have no idea why.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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Thursday, 22 October 2015


We're still both ill and suffering from 'Cabin fever' a bit too.

We do go out for things like shopping but time is so precious.......we should be doing things.

Robyn has had one triumph;

When we bought this it was a bright green Pepper and she has ripened it.

I never realised that Peppers (Red, Green, Yellow) were all one thing - the green one is unripe and the colours change as it gets more ripe.

Ours is now yellowy orange;

Which is about the coolest thing that is happening to us at the moment.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Robyn banned me from reading books.


There was a thin autumn sun, so we went out for the afternoon to Egham to have a coffee, sitting at one of the pavement tables watching the world go by.

Caffé Nero was given a facelift earlier this year and they put in some bookcases which they filled with a random assortment of old books.

That was the first thing that worked me up; for the last 20 years, libraries have been selling off their 'old' books.

Who cares?

These are works of reference, mainly. The kind of books that you looked up to write an essay in the old days before there was an internet.

They are really quite priceless - books of our history, textbooks, all the important stuff. The kind of sources that allowed people to make up their own minds about history without being told what to think by the net.

All of which means that silly librarians have been literally giving away these books - to book dealers at knock down prices.

As a result Caffé Nero now has a big bookshelf of random non fiction textbooks and reference works which they probably bought by the metre because they 'looked nice'.

So I borrowed one; a collection of original documents of Economic History....from The Magna Carta to the end of the 19th century and covering everything from The Enclosure Acts to The Factory Acts.

It was published in 1945....important enough to everyone at that time that it was one of the first things they published when the first unrationed paper came through after the end of the war.

It took just a moment for me to discover that I'd used this a lot in my University library, usually in the last minute, to write my essays.

It was like thumbing through an old friend, full of old memories, and it made me very sad and emotional.......which is why Robyn has now banned me from reading books.

The problem with the Internet is that you can find anything you want but you need to know what it is that you are looking for and you need someone to have taken the trouble to have posted it up there in the first place.

So who would know to look for the testimony of Elizabeth Bentley, a 23 year old textile worker who was interviewed by a Parliamentary Commission in 1832?

I couldn't find the passage in the book where she described how her back was permanently bent by inhuman working conditions (a bit like mine is now) when she was in her teens but I found this;  

Parliamentary Testimony: Evidence Given Before the Sadler Committee
In 1832, Member of Parliament Michael Sadler initiated and chaired a parliamentary investigation of the conditions of work in textile factories. The evidence collected, which extends to many volumes, consists of interviews like the following. As a result of the investigation, laws were passed limiting the number of hours women and children could be employed in textile factories.
Elizabeth Bentley, called in; and examined.

What age are you?
— Twenty-three.

Where do you live?
— At Leeds.

What time did you begin to work at a factory?
— When I was six years old.

At whose factory did you work?
— Mr. Busk's.

What kind of mill is it?
— Flax-mill.

What was your business in that mill?
— I was a little doffer.

What were your hours of labour in that mill?
— From 5 in the morning till 9 at night, when they were thronged. 

For how long a time together have you worked that excessive length of time?
— For about half a year.

What were your usual hours of labour when you were not so thronged?
— From 6 in the morning till 7 at night.

What time was allowed for your meals?
— Forty minutes at noon.

Had you anytime to get your breakfast or drinking?
— No, we got it as we could.

And when your work was bad, you had hardly any time to eat it at all?
— No; we were obliged to leave it or take it home, and when we did not take it, the overlooker took it, and gave it to his pigs.

Do you consider doffing a laborious employment?
— Yes.

Explain what it is you had to do?
— When the frames are full, they have to stop the frames and take the flyers off, and take the full bobbins off, and carry them to the roller; and then put empty ones on and set the frame going again.

Does that keep you constantly on your feet?
— Yes, there are so many frames, and they run so quick.

Your labour is very excessive?
— Yes; you have not time for any thing.

Suppose you flagged a little, or were too late, what would they do?
— Strap us.

Are they in the habit of strapping those who are last in doffing?
— Yes.

— Yes.

Girls as well as boys?
— Yes.

Have you ever been strapped?
— Yes.

— Yes.

Is the strap used so as to hurt you excessively?
— Yes, it is.

Were you strapped if you were too much fatigued to keep up with the machinery?
— Yes; the overlooker I was under was a very severe man, and when we had been fatigued and worn out, and had not baskets to put the bobbins in, we used to put them in the window bottoms, and that broke the panes, sometimes, and I broke one one time, and the overlooker strapped me on the arm, and it rose a blister, and I ran home to my mother.

How long did you work at Mr. Busk's?
— Three or four years.

Where did you go then?
— Benyon's factory.

That was where you were about 10 years?
— Yes.

What were you then?
— A weigher in the card room.

How long did you work there?
— From half-past 5 till 8 at night.

What time was allowed for meals at that mill?
— Forty minutes at noon.

Any time at breakfast or drinking?
— Yes, for the card rooms, but not for the spinning rooms, a quarter of an hour to get their breakfast.

And the same for their drinking?
— Yes.

So that the spinners in that room worked from half-past 5 till 9 at night?
— Yes.

Having only forty minutes' rest?
— Yes.

The carding room is more oppressive than the spinning department?
— Yes, it is so dusty they cannot see each other for dust.

It is on that account they are allowed a relaxation of those few minutes?
— Yes; the cards get so soon filled up with waste and dirt, they are obliged to stop them or they would take fire.

There is a convenience in that stoppage?
— Yes, it as much for their benefit as for the working people.

When it was not necessary no such indulgence was allowed?
— No.

— No.

Were the children beat up to their labour there?
— Yes.

With what?
— A strap; I have seen the overlooker go to the top end of the room, where the little girls hug  the can to the backminders; he has taken a strap, and a whistle in his mouth, and sometimes he has got a chain and chained them, and strapped them all down the room.

All the children?
— No, only those hugging the cans.

What was his reason for that?
— He was angry.

Had the children committed any fault?
— They were too slow.

Were the children excessively fatigued at that time?
— Yes, it was in the afternoon.

Were the girls struck so as to leave marks upon their skin?
— Yes, they have had black marks many times, and their parents dare not come to him about it, they were afraid of losing their work.

If the parents were to complain of this excessive ill-usage, the probable consequence would be the loss of the situation of the child?
— Yes.

In what part of the mill did you work?
— In-the card-room.

It was exceedingly dusty?
— Yes.

Did it affect your health?
— Yes; it was so dusty, the dust got upon my lungs, and the work was so hard; I was middling strong when I went there, but the work was so bad; I got so bad in health, that when I pulled the baskets down, I pulled my bones out of their places.

You dragged the baskets?
— Yes; down the rooms to where they are worked.

And as you had been weakened by excessive labour, you could not stand that labour?
— No.

It has had the effect of pulling your shoulders out?
— Yes; it was a great basket that stood higher than this table a good deal.

How heavy was it?
— I cannot say; it was a very large one, that was full of weights up-heaped, and pulling the basket pulled my shoulders out of its place, and my ribs have grown over it

You continued at that work?
— Yes.
You think that work is too much for children?
— Yes.

I feel the same anger today that I felt all those years ago when I first read the words of poor Elizabeth Bentley.

Only perhaps it's worse in the knowledge that since then our own textile industry has collapsed and with it the factories that made clothes for the High Street.

The jobs? They all went to Bangladesh and Pakistan and any other country where little 12 year old girls like Elizabeth Bentley still get beaten when they don't work hard enough.

So then I looked up the testimony of Patience Kershaw which was once so famous that in the 1960's someone set the words to music (re recorded by 'The Unthanks' recently);

Parliamentary Papers, 1842, vols. XV-XVII, Appendix I, pp. 252, 258, 439, 461; Appendix II, pp. 107, 122, 205. The second of the three great reports embodies the results of the investigation into the conditions of labor in the mines made by Lord Ashley's Mines Commission of 1842. The Mines Act of 1842 that resulted prohibited the employment in the mines of all women and of boys under thirteen.

No. 26. — Patience Kershaw, aged 17, May 15.

My father has been dead about a year; my mother is living and has ten children, five lads and five lasses; the oldest is about thirty, the youngest is four; three lasses go to mill; all the lads are colliers, two getters and three hurriers; one lives at home and does nothing; mother does nought but look after home.
All my sisters have been hurriers, but three went to the mill. Alice went because her legs swelled from hurrying in cold water when she was hot. I never went to day-school; I go to Sunday-school, but I cannot read or write; I go to pit at five o'clock in the morning and come out at five in the evening; I get my breakfast of porridge and milk first; I take my dinner with me, a cake, and eat it as I go; I do not stop or rest any time for the purpose; I get nothing else until I get home, and then have potatoes and meat, not every day meat.

 I hurry in the clothes I have now got on, trousers and ragged jacket; the bald place upon my head is made by thrusting the corves; my legs have never swelled, but sisters' did when they went to mill; I hurry the corves a mile and more under ground and back; they weigh 300 cwt.; I hurry 11 a-day; I wear a belt and chain at the workings, to get the corves out; the getters that I work for are naked except their caps; they pull off all their clothes; I see them at work when I go up; sometimes they beat me, if I am not quick enough, with their hands; they strike me upon my back; the boys take liberties with me sometimes they pull me about; I am the only girl in the pit; there are about 20 boys and 15 men; all the men are naked; I would rather work in mill than in coal-pit.

I'm grateful to The National Coal Mining Museum for this description;

 Jobs in 19th Century Mines

In early mines, when families would often all work together, each member of the family would play a part. They all helped to mine as much coal as possible, so that the family could make a living.

The Hewer
The hewer’s job was to mine the coal from the coal seam. He would use hand tools such as a sharp pick. The hewer would have to work in an area no taller than the height of the coal seam, which could be less than 60 cm. The hewer would work with a single candle to enable him to see what he was doing.
The Getter
This work might be done by a woman. She would shovel the coal produced by the hewer into the coal corves (large baskets) or tubs (small carts), often working on her knees. Sometimes this work would be done by the hewer.
The Hurrier
Often crawling on hands and knees, the hurrier would pull the tubs or corves of coal along the roadways to the pit-bottom. They had to wear belts attached to a heavy chain. This chain passed between their legs and was attached to the coal tub. As the hewer and getter filled the tubs, these were taken away to the pit bottom to be lifted to the surface.
The Thruster
This job was often done by girls working with a hurrier. The hurrier would pull the tubs and the thruster’s job was to push the tub with her hands and her forehead. Some thrusters might lose their hair by pushing the heavy tubs with their head.
The younger children worked in pairs, one as a hurrier, one as a thruster. The older children, and especially women hurriers, worked alone.
The Trapper
The youngest children in the mine worked as trappers. Children started work as young as five years old. They sat at the wooden ventilation doors, opening them when hurriers brought loaded tubs to the pit-bottom or returned with empties, and closing them again afterwards. It was a very responsible job for such young children as the whole ventilation system of the mine depended on them; one door left open could starve the pit of air.
Although it was not a physically hard job it was very boring and lonely. Trappers could not usually afford a candle, and would sit in the dark for long periods.

And while I read this I was thinking about an incident in 2010 just before I got ill.

Several times, I saw potholes in the road being repaired by contractors which used to be done by the local Council using Union labour.

Now this used to be done by a team but in 2010 it became normal for one man to do it, with the help of a young son......I saw kids  about 12 doing exactly that........sweeping, clearing up, a bit of shovelling with a spade so big they could hardly carry it.

Now it was still a Labour government then and the police were swiftly told to stop this....using The Factory Acts which are still in force today.

It doesn't take a lot to go back; not having a Trades Union and a government that turns a blind eye to suffering.

And all the campaigning and fighting we did....doesn't mean a thing if you let them get away with it.

And now when you buy your Levi Jeans, Nike or Addidas or whatever.....have a look at the label and check out where your designer gear comes from.

Anyway, after working myself up about all that, Robyn has banned me from reading books.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)


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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A nice mute at the Red Lion.

Still ill (of course) but we struggled out to our Jazz club at The Red Lion, Isleworth anyway.

These days I'm quite a sight; with a broken back I can't cope with three hours perched on an armchair, so I have to take a folding chair with me.

It was crowded and we ended pushed right up at the back, in the corner where the fruit machine used to be. I had a tough day, so by the time I got there I was worn out.

Good music though, this is Martin Shaw;

I do love a mute on a well played trumpet.

You can't see them but in the background was Trevor Tompkins on drums, Dave Green on bass and Kate Williams on keyboards.

We also had a new guest this week - Frank Griffith on Saxophone;

I've always enjoyed the way Martin Shaw plays 'Bye Bye Blackbird' on a mute but tonight the duet with Frank Griffith was something special; two very quiet and breathy soloists on a quiet night.
It's definitely not summer any more!
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Birdman of Isleworth.

Sunday and I'm still ill but the problems I had (which looked like it was something much, much worse) died down. It's just a virus.

Instead Robyn's really ill now.

I was waiting to pick Robyn up on Sunday morning and I wandered down to 'Old Isleworth', checking out what little sun there was when I saw this;

Loads of people feed the birds here - for a start some Hindhu's are required to be kind to animals and it's a bit hard to do that in a modern, urban world - so they feed the birds.

So do lots of other people too. I should explain that all around were dozens of geese, pigeons and seagulls......waiting.

But the swans assembled as soon as they saw this guy and the other birds knew they weren't in with a chance and wandered off to find someone else;

Hopefully, we'll be back to normal soon.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Parking at Ashford and St. Peter's Hospital how bad is it?.

It would be good to read that Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals were fifth in the country for something but this isn't a good thing.

According to a Sun newspaper investigation the trust made the fifth largest amount of money from charging it's patients, visitors and staff for parking.

It's not as though it's in an expensive parking area.

I took this article from the Bath Chronicle as the Murdoch group of newspapers charge for access;

Bath Chronicle                 
Royal United Hospital in Bath collected more than £1 million in parking fees
last year

By Amanda Cameron  |  Posted: October 17, 2015
The Royal United Hospital in Bath raked in more than £1 million in parking fees
last year, it has been reported.

An investigation by The Sun found that the hospital was among eight NHS trusts
in the country that collected at least £1 million from patients and visitors who
parked in hospital grounds last year.

The newspaper obtained data on parking fees from 100 NHS hospitals in England
under the Freedom of Information Act.

Those hospitals made a total of £38.86 million in 2014/15, up from £37.71
million the year before.
This is despite Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt promising last year to clamp
down on the parking fees charged by NHS trusts.

The Royal United Hospital collected £1,063,885 in parking revenue last year,
putting it seventh among eight hospitals that hauled in more than a million

John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford came top of the list, raking in £1,880,961.
It was followed by Northwick Park Hospital in London, which collected
£1,847,851, and New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton which collected £1,546,380.

Next on the list were Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital with £1,490,035, St
Peter's Hospital in Ashford, Surrey, with £1,438,490 and Good Hope Hospital in
the West Midlands with £1,101,690.

Conservative MP Stephen Metcalfe has admitted that figures are "very worrying"
while Labour MP Frank Field called on Mr Hunt to "seek powers to instruct trusts
that they should not be charging" the public for parking at NHS hospitals.

So where did the money go?

I thought I'd take a closer look at the story because the Health Minister promised to stop Hospital's ripping off people who visit or work there and need to park.

It doesn't seem to have happened.

I checked out some other Freedom of Information requests and found this one, the car parking accounts for 2013;


Travel plan Income and Expenditure Streams 2013/14


Income from car parking                                                                          1,750,000

Pay costs from Security

- Travel plan / CCTV / Security offices                                                    (160,000)

- Staff Hopper Bus                                                                                     (210,000)

- 24hr Car park / security management                                                     (100,000)

Non-Pay Includes

- Car pack ticket, barrier maintenance & management contracts              (195,000)

- Road markings                                                                                         (10,000)

- General repairs, gritting                                                                           (10,000)

- Rent                                                                                                          (15,000)

- Grounds maintenance contracts                                                               (30,000)

- Patient ambulance (NEPT) contracts                                                       (95,000)

- Miscellaneous expenses                                                                           (7,500)

Site Improvements Funds

- Lighting, CCTV, security, traffic flow improvements                             (25,000)

- Fencing / Bollard improvements                                                               (20,000)

- Signage improvements                                                                              (10,000)

Other Indirect Costs


- 10% of cashiers time                                                                                   (7,000)

- Bank charges for cash                                                                                 (3,000)

Maintenance staff recharge                                                                           (12,500)

Estates & Facilities Management recharge                                                    (15,000)

Business rates recharge (10%)                                                                      (115,000)

Estimate for electricity supplies to lighting, ticket machines & barriers       (35,000)


Capital Charges

- Maple decked car park                                                                                  (95,000)

- Abbey Wing decked car park                                                                        (45,000)

- Other car parks                                                                                              (380,000)

- Land                                                                                                               (205,000)

Net Surplus /(Deficit) on Car Parks                                                                 (50,000)

%                                                                                                                      -3%

The first interesting point is that the Trust actually earned £1.75 million which would put it in third place in the  table of shame.

The second interesting point is that the hospital uses all the money on non health related matters - it's not as though our money pays for treatment.

Thirdly, last summer the Trust tried to introduce charges for the disabled who had previously parked for free. You may remember there was a storm of protest and in the end they backed down.

None of us could understand why they would risk such bad publicity for what would have been a small amount for the Trust but such a big item of expenditure for the disabled.

Only an accountant could recommend penalising those least able to pay; only an accountant would think it worthwhile to make that charge to remove a deficit of £50,000.

Of course, these accounts are full of nonsense accounting entries like notional interest and notional rent for the land the car parks are on.

The trust seems to be trying to run the car parks as though they were some kind of stand alone business when really they are a service for the patients and staff.

Or they should be.

In the real world these outrageous car park charges are just a tax on illness and infirmity.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)


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