Hospital bosses are refusing to say how much public money is being spent on the firm which manages its parking.
East Cheshire NHS Trust, which runs Macclesfield Hospital, has an agreement with ParkingEye to electronically record the registration plate of vehicles entering and leaving the site and use the data to enforce parking penalties.
As part of the controversial four-year deal, health chiefs pay the VAT on all fines.
But despite a number of requests for the data under the Freedom of Information Act, including one from the Express, the Trust refuses to say how much public cash has been paid to ParkingEye.
Health chiefs say it’s because it would enable competitors to work out the firm’s income from the contract.
An appeal to the Information Commission’s Office, the Government data privacy watchdog, was rejected on the grounds disclosure would give rival parking firms a commercial advantage.
But a former mayor and Honorary Alderman Roger West, who himself was fined under the controversial scheme, has slammed the decision as ‘inexcusable’.
Mr West, who lives in Poynton, was ticketed after dropping off his elderly neighbour at the hospital.
He said: “The current system is not in the spirit of what the hospital is there for. We know parking management is needed, I support that, but this system is not user friendly. It’s appalling that public money is being spent on the system but the public is not allowed to know how much. Health services should be transparent, whiter than white. This is inexcusable.”
A spokesman for the hospital said information about VAT has not been shared under commercial confidence exemptions in its legally binding contract with ParkingEye.
She added: “The trust recognises that parking is difficult given the volume of cars and limited spaces. This was the reason for the introduction of a parking management system. The majority of visitors pay for and park their car without any problems. Where visitors have been unable to pay at the machines we ask they highlight this to departmental staff that can help in urgent circumstances.
“If users receive correspondence from ParkingEye we recommend they use the appropriate appeals process and strongly advise them not to ignore any letters.”
ParkingEye has been contacted for a comment.