Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Hospital bid to eject travellers

Dozens of French travellers have set up an encampment at the Royal Gwent Hospital car park

Health chiefs are taking legal advice to eject dozens of French travellers who infuriated front line NHS workers by setting up an encampment in a hospital car park.

Doctors, surgeons and nursing staff were forced to find alternative parking away from the Royal Gwent Hospital, in Newport, South Wales, this morning.

Talks are now under way with leaders of the French traveller families who have taken 65 of 300 places at the hospital's staff car park.

Hospital bosses have reassured workers that security will be available on the site between 6am and 10pm.

They claim rapid action over the weekend to highlight the situation ensured that disruption was kept to a minimum this morning.

Social networking sites and other means were used yesterday to highlight the problem staff would encounter when arriving at work today.

Talks now underway are focused on convincing the French travellers to move on of their own volition. The alternative of legal action can be a lengthy and expensive process.

Some staff today inevitably felt frustrated by the forced change to their morning routine despite being forewarned.

One hospital worker, who did not want to be named, told BBC Wales online: "Finding a parking space is bad enough normally without this happening first thing.

"I find it infuriating this situation can be allowed to continue until the families decide to move themselves on.

"There are doctors and other medical staff who work on emergency cases around the clock.

"They are being forced to park some distance away all because a group of French travellers fancied the spot to set up camp."

Julian Hayman, a hospital spokesman, said: "We are in discussions with them about moving on. Obviously, it is better if they agree to do that themselves."

He said as a result of messages sent out over the weekend "a lot of people did make alternative arrangements for parking".

He added: "But we are also taking legal advice as well as talking to the travellers."

He said that he believed that the discussions were being conducted in English.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which runs the hospital, put out advice to staff on its website yesterday in an effort to minimise disruption.

It stated: "We have visited the site this morning and we are aware that the travellers have taken approximately 65 spaces.

"This however still leaves over 200 spaces available. We will ensure that security is available on site from 6.00am - 10.00pm every day to reassure and support staff during this situation.

"I am sure you will appreciate there was nothing that we could do to stop this happening, but we are taking legal advice to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

"There is no quick legal solution but we are also working with the travellers to ensure they leave as soon as possible. In the meantime your co-operation would be greatly appreciated.

"View the Newport City Council website for a list of local car parks. Should you wish to make alternative travel arrangements during this time, please view the Newport Transport and Stagecoach for bus timetables."

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