Employee parking at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

While I was canvassing for the Liberton/Gilmerton by-election this weekend, one resident told me how she didn’t like it when employees of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh off Dalkeith Road parked outside her house in the morning. I’m not sure whether this is because the hospital doesn’t have enough car parking space for its employees or whether they make employees pay to park, but either way there must be a significant reason if employees instead park half a mile away from their place of work.

One way to solve this problem — for residents at least — would be to make some streets resident parking only. But this doesn’t help the employees, and it also causes hassle for visitors of residents, residents who hire a car for a week or so, or when residents get a new car and need to change their details.

So how could we have a win-win system, so everyone gains?

Why not build housing for the employees next to the hospital. Since the idea is that hospital workers would live the, the housing would be rented not sold, and workers who stopped working for the hospital would have to give up their tenure (obviously they wouldn’t be immediately kicked out, they’d have a period of grace). The purpose of this would be to free up room for other hospital employees who wanted to live there.

Obviously this wouldn’t be for everyone. But many people don’t like having to spend the time and money it costs travelling to work, so we could assume that quite a few people would take up the idea. Rents would be roughly at council house levels which although unsubsidised are a good deal cheaper than private lets or buys. In fact it might make sense to give them a small subsidy in recognition of the positive externalities they are providing to others, namely the reduction in traffic near the hospital.

So, who wins from this:

  • residents nearby win, as hospital employees no longer park in their car parking spaces
  • residents also win because there is less traffic (particularly at rush hours)
  • the reduction in traffic means that there is less pollution (residents wins), less emissions of greenhouse gases (everyone wins), and less dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world (the UK wins)
  • hospital employees who live in this tied accommodation would benefit, because no employee would be forced to live in it, therefore employees would only choose to do so if they thought it was a better deal than whatever other options they had
  • hospital employees who didn’t live in tied accommodation would benefit, since there would be less traffic when going to and from work

And who loses:

  • no-one

So under this scheme everyone would be better off. Schemes like this should be routinely considered for large-scale sites of employment, whether office, retail, or light industrial.

Baking a bigger cake: an efficient economy is a modern economy

Everyone can win because this system is more efficient — it reduces the costs in time and money of travelling to work.

The other parties talk about redistributing the national cake. So for example, left-wing parties like the Greens and Scottish Socialist Party want the rich to pay more taxes, to give more money to the poor. and the Tories are the reverse: they want to cut public spending for the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

If you read propaganda from the old failed parties, they spend nearly all their time arguing about how to divide up the cake. Instead we should turn our minds to baking a bigger cake, so we can all get a bigger slice. And that’s why I care about efficiency: it’s a necessary part of building a modern, 21st century Edinburgh where everyone can be well-off. If I am elected as a councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton ward, that will be my goal.

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7 Responses to Employee parking at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

  1. Andrew Tindall says:

    they did a similar thing in Bournemouth. They built a series of quite fancy looking flats near Castlepoint shopping centre, which is a few minutes drive to the hospital, and NHS staff were given priority for tenancy applications.

  2. Martin A says:

    Of course, a city with mixed zoning is a generally good idea, if you start building from scratch on a big open plain, but you really haven’t got a clue, have you?

    If it was in Edinburgh employees’ best interest to be living in the house next door to the hospital, then they would already be living there, having chosen to do so.
    But hey – wait – something’s wrong – they’re not living there – all the young nurses are in little pokey shared houses in the cheap part of town. What’s gone wrong?
    Ah – it’s because they decide that in their own best interests, they would choose in a free(-ish) market, to spend less of their own money on housing. Maybe they like the other parts of town more anyway?

    So to get them to live next to the hospital, you have to take someone’s money (my money, the Dear Reader’s money?) , under pain of violence, and distort the nurses decision-making by artificially subsidizing some housing. (By the way, why is it *my* money? Why not *your* money, Cabalamat? – why don’t you buy a plot of land and build them the houses yourself? Is because you would rather keep what money you have, and spend it on other things? Well guess what – I’ve decided the same thing for mine)

    If you actually valued the lower paid hospital workers more, you might campaign for higher pay for them. The reason poor people are poor is because they haven’t got much money – not because a NIMBY living next to a hospital doesn’t like the view from their front window being spoilt.

    Oh and the “Efficiency” thing, and the “who loses: no-one” comment? Are you truly bonkers? So this period of grace thing after the employee’s job ends? Who pays for that? The poor nurse, who’s now got no money coming? Oh – perhaps you meant Dear Reader again? The hospital already has a fixed budget, and chooses to spend it on medicines, bandages, salaries, and not on views from kitchen windows.

    No Great Plan socialist ever thinks about the Lost Opportunity Cost of their Great Idea subsidies. You think that because the subsidy would be tiny, for each taxpayer, that its payment can effectively be ignored. (This makes suckering people into paying it easier) But it’s exactly the same money, just spread out more. Every house built by subsidy next to the hospital is a house not built somewhere else in a place someone really *wanted* to live in, but now can’t afford to. Every house built under subsidy is a training course no longer affordable, for an employer that really wanted to provide the raise their employees’ skills.

  3. George Carty says:

    Won’t local homeowners be losers, because the extra houses will mean the houses they currently live in will be worth less?

    • Phil Hunt says:

      Unlikely, since we’re talking about maybe 200 houses in a housing market that includes all of Edinburgh plus much of East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian and Fife.

  4. Pingback: Employee housing, a response to Martin A | Phil Hunt for Liberton/Gilmerton

  5. Pingback: Colin Fox versus Philip Hunt | Phil Hunt for Liberton/Gilmerton

  6. Sam says:

    20 years ago most Scottish hospital had accommodation for students, Doctors and nurses, but then the trusts decided to sell or rent out these precious asset to make money. In Edinburgh now no accommodation is provided for staff and hence some folk travel from as far as Dundee- Forfar to work.
    The parking of £7 pounds a day for employees is atrocious. The trust fails to look after its own employees ! Not everybody can afford to buy a house near the hospital

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