Labour has always stood up for and stood by our NHS workers. When Labour Councillors received a flood of emails from NHS staff working in and around Hatfield town centre we reacted immediately.
These vital workers had previously been paying £50 a year to park in Hatfield Town Centre, near to their workplaces at 5 different nearby locations, however upon completion of the new multi-story car park in Hatfield, this fee jumped to £200.
The staff who flagged this up are in the lowest pay band of the NHS and with the cost of everything going only one way, asked how this was fair at a time the public were out on their doorsteps applauding these very workers for the vital work they do.
At a meeting on 4th March last year, Labour Councillors asked that these workers were given free parking or at least that the cost was reduced considerably. Some NHS staff made this request themselves to the Council. The hand wringing response from the Conservatives was that they would go away and have a think about what could be done.
Six months later, on 19th August and with no reply having been received, another NHS staff member asked the question again – highlighting how Councillors and Council staff receive free parking in these car parks, while nurses have to pay.
The response from the Conservative Councillor defended the Councils use of free parking and ignored the point that the NHS had to pay full price.
Labour Councillor Glyn Hayes protested that there had still been no response to the requests made in March. Again the response was this would be considered at some point in the future.
The next month, the Conservatives decided that as this was a financial issue, it would be considered as part of the budget which would not be voted on until February 2022 – nearly an entire year after the hard working, low paid nurses had raised their concerns.
Welwyn Hatfield Council held a budget meeting earlier this month. There was nothing in the budget relating to NHS parking. Labour Councillors voted against the budget.
The Conservative Governments jobs tax, will see National Insurance payments for nurses rise by around £200. Welwyn Hatfield’s Conservative run Council decision to charge £200 parking is another hammer blow.
Labour’s Welwyn Hatfield manifesto in 2021 pledged free parking for NHS workers and that pledge remains now.