A CABINET member who claimed there is no such thing as free parking in the “real world” has claimed more than 40 parking tickets on expenses.

Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Worcestershire County Council, said a call for a free parking trial for staff at Worcestershire Royal Hospital was “totally unsustainable” and would lose the NHS millions a year.

At a meeting of the full county council last week, Cllr Smith said, whilst everybody would love to have free parking there was no such thing as free parking in the “real world.”

He said: “We all know car parking is a contentious issue.

“I’m sure everyone here would love to have free car parking but unfortunately in the real world there is no such thing as free car parking.”

However, despite his comments, the Worcester News can reveal that, between April 2013 and December 2017, Cllr Smith claimed back more than £130 for 41 parking tickets used whilst on council duty – including a £1 ticket in June 2017, a £1.20 ticket in November 2015 and £1.50 for a ticket in August 2015.

Cllr Smith also claimed for a £4.70 car parking ticket when visiting Starfish Health and Wellbeing in Cannock, Staffordshire in September 2017 – a counselling service used by the NHS.

Parking is free for all councillors and county council staff at County Hall.

Labour councillors called on council bosses to “get the ball rolling” on tackling the problem of parking around hospitals and expensive car parking charges.

Cllr John Smith, who is also chairman of the county’s health and wellbeing board, said free parking would cause Worcestershire’s acute hospitals to lose at least £5 million a year if charges were scrapped.

A spokesman for Worcestershire County Council said: “Councillors are able to claim ‘out of pocket’ travel and parking charges when they’re on official business.”