This is from today's 'Get Surrey', and it's the more official version of what happened yesterday - the paper got sent the hospital press release.
I like 'Get Surrey' as the paper keeps an eye on developments in the NHS and reports on local campaigns, which is why I always credit their reports. Just as well, because when the online version of the paper reported the Egham meeting they stole my photo from here, without crediting it!
Nice to know you're keeping an eye on the Blog - hey?
plans to start charging disability blue badge holders to park at Ashford & St Peter's hospitals have been withdrawn.
The surprise U-turn came at the NHS trust's board meeting on Thursday, the day before the scheduled introduction of controversial parking charges.
The trust was due to start charging all blue badge holders, although people on benefits would have been able to claim parking charges back.
The meeting on Thursday was to allow the board to "reflect" on the decision to introduce the charges, as well as assess the "strength of feeling" from the public.
Members of the public were informed by trust chairman Aileen McLeish that they would no longer be going ahead with plans to charge all blue badge holders.
A petition had been signed by more than 700 people, calling on the plans to be scrapped.
@ASPHFT Board has listened to feedback from local people and has made the decision not to charge blue badge holders for parking
— Ashford & St Peter's (@ASPHFT) July 31, 2014
Caroline Williams, who started the petition, said she was "walking on air" when she heard the announcement.
Mrs Williams, from Molesey Road in Hersham, said: "I was totally stunned. I thought they were going to have made their decision.
"I thought it was a done deal. I started the petition on a Friday night and by the morning I had 10 signatures. It went up to 100 and I thought 'this has got some momentum'.
"Not everyone with a badge is on benefits. I thought the little people needed some help.
"I want to thank everybody who has helped with the campaign and signed the petition."
A meeting was held on July 17 at the Hythe Centre in Egham, to discuss the changes, which were met with heated disapproval.
'Over a barrel'
Fellow campaigner Mick Flannigan added: "We are not gloating, but this comes as an immense relief to many disabled people and their carers.
"We had feared the worst, as the board seemed to have us over a barrel. They seemed not to be taking any notice of the petition from over 700 objectors, plus the great show of anger at a recent public meeting.
"Only this week, notices had been fixed at the hospitals, making it clear that the new charges would come into force on August 1 - and that blue badge holders would have to take a ticket and make the due payment before passing through the exit barriers.
"So to all appearances, it [had] looked like the board's promised 'reflection' on its proposals was not being honoured."
Anyway the lessons from this protest are that if you are targettign a local body; keep the protests aims limited and achievable, mobilise support quickly and make the pain of carrying out the decision far greater than the financial saving.
We fight on!
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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