HOUR-LONG traffic jams at Airedale Hospital could be wiped out if more staff members left their cars at home, claims a civic leader.

Parish council chief David Mullen said the workers, who get stuck in jams when they leave the grounds at busy teatime periods, should instead take buses or trains to and from work.

He believes more staff, patients and relatives would use public transport if there were improved public transport links right to the hospital doors.

Cllr Mullen is chairman of Steeton-with-Eastburn Parish Council, which has previously called for all buses travelling between Keighley, Skipton and Ilkley to drive into the hospital grounds to collect and drop off passengers. It also wants direct bus links from Steeton-Silsden railway station to the hospital.

Cllr Mullen spoke out after health workers complained about long delays getting into Skipton Road from the hospital car parks – particularly around 5pm on weekdays – and further congestion in Keighley Road itself as cars become logjammed queuing for Steeton Top.

Cllr Mullen said: “The problem is the staff finishing time – there are so many staff insisting on travelling in their own vehicles.

“The railway station should be a transport interchange so people from afar can get a train, then a bus, to the hospital. It would be easier and more people would leave their car at home.

“The staff complain about paying for parking. If the buses were running. they wouldn’t need to pay for the parking. We’ve mentioned this for years, but it seems to fall on deaf ears.”

Cllr Mullen believes the staff’s suggested remedies – traffic lights at the hospital exit or a separate staff-only exit from the west car park – would not improve the situation.

He said: “Bradford Council wouldn’t go for traffic lights because Skipton Road is a priority route – they don’t want anything that would slow down traffic.”

Cllr Mullen said the hospital could not build a second exit from the west car park to Skipton Road because it would have to cross land designated as ‘village green space’ when planning permission was given for adjacent doctors’ and nurses’ accommodation.

He added: “The land is owned by the NHS but it is sacrosanct, you touch it at your peril. And putting an exit there isn’t going to make any difference – drivers would still hit traffic both ways.”

Councillor Mullen said the “main culprit” for causing congestion was the nearby Cross Hills-Kildwick level crossing, where frequent delays prompted scores of drivers to use Skipton Road instead of crossing the railway line to use the Aire Valley Road trunk road.