‘It’s illegal and dangerous’: Our parking dilemma

THE contentious issue of illegal parking near the Albury-Wodonga Private Hospital has been raised publicly for the first time at an Albury Council meeting.

Cr Henk van de Ven claimed hospital staff and visitors were parking dangerously close to the edge of the Riverina Highway on a daily basis.

He raised the issue as a matter without notice at the council’s final meeting of the year this week and said the problem needed to be fixed before a major accident occurred.

The hospital has expanded rapidly since first opening in 1979 with the last redevelopment taking place in 2009.

It has 103 beds, five operating theatres, day surgery unit, mental health centre, but a full-time and casual workforce of 200-plus people and a large number of visitors have exposed major parking issues.

“The truth of the matter is cars are parking very close to the edge of the road,” he said.

“For all intents and purposes it is illegal, but the issue, for me, is safety.

“We are also spending a lot of money on other entrances to our city and this one is ugly, unsafe and unsightly.”

Cr van de Ven, who travels past the hospital each day, said he had raised the matter internally previously. But he was prepared to wear any public backlash to gain a long-term solution.

He said the council and hospital should step up negotiations about “co-funding” a parking solution.

“The majority of people parking on that verge would be employees of the private hospital,” he said.

“We haven’t been booking anyone for the past 15 years to my knowledge so why would we start now?”

The council’s engineering director Brad Ferris said preliminary designs for more parking were being drawn up.

They will be forwarded to NSW Roads and Maritime Services for feedback.

“We will try and get a reply from them as quickly as we can,” he said.

Deputy mayor Kevin Mack said he was aware of the sensitivities of the parking issues at the hospital.

“I understand the difficulty of a compliance officer booking a car because it could be someone visiting a very sick relative or friend,” he said.

“There has to be a solution and I concur with Cr van de Ven that it is not a good look.”

Cr Patricia Gould lives nearby the hospital and has been watching the problem get worse.

“Cars are practically parked on the roadway,” she said.

“The sooner the better something is done because there could be a fatality down there.”

Hospital chief executive Doug McRae said last night he was not aware of the parking issues.

“We will be happy to sit down and discuss any concerns.”