CONTROVERSIAL council plans to sell off a town centre car park will be completed by Christmas.
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust (WWLT) are buying the 340 space Mesnes Terrace multi-storeys to ease the parking chaos at Wigan Infirmary from cash strapped Wigan Council.
The Trust today denied claims from staff that the deal to buy the facility had hit the rocks and said plans were well on to operate it as a park and ride for use by visitors and staff.
They also refuted fears by a union member who contacted the Wigan Observer claiming the Trust would use the acquisition as a reason to raise current £20/£25 per month staff-parking charges.
A spokesman said: “Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust can confirm that we have reached an agreement with Wigan Council on the purchase of Mesnes Terrace car park and the legal formalities of the purchase are being progressed with our legal advisors and should be concluded by the end of the year.
“The decision to purchase rather than lease the facility was taken by the Trust after a thorough financial appraisal of the two options to determine which is most beneficial in terms of value for money.
“The Trust has already advised its staff that those relocating to Mesnes Terrace will see a reduction in their current parking charges and there are no plans to increase these in the New Year, as suggested, to support the purchase of Mesnes Terrace car park.”
The council have declined to put a price on the deal and had no further comment to make today.
In an earlier report, town hall corporate director (places) Gillian Bishop said that the NHS recognise they face increasing “travel challenges” including parking for both staff and visitors to the hospital site.
But there were competing parking demands at the NHS sites across the borough, which lead to congestion at times at the Infirmary, increasing the anxieties for patients attending the tightly developed site for appointments or those visiting them. And there were limited opportunities to increase parking at the Infirmary, which has already prompted the NHS to lay on a mini bus service between various sites and the town centre to enable their own staff to travel into Wigan by bus, car share or take advantage of contract parking spaces.
She said: “In continuing to resolve parking pressure, particularly at Wigan Infirmary, the NHS have approached the council with a proposal to use Mesnes Terrace multi-storey car park as an NHS park and ride and the NHS would take over operation, staffing and maintenance of the car park.”
She revealed that the car park itself is currently mainly utilised by Metro staff with contracts and there was “little demand” from the public to use it because of its location or accessibility, which shoppers have apparently decided makes it not as suitable as the other car parking on offer in the town centre, so parking won’t be compromised.
And with the opening of the Wigan Life Centre, there is now predicted to be a shift in demand for council staff parking, leading to a “significant decline” in parking demand at Mesnes Terrace.