PRESSURE must be put on the Royal Gwent Hospital to back a pioneering Newport park-and-ride scheme, councillors heard.

Councillor Miqdad Al-Nuami yesterday told city planners that traffic and parking problems created by the hospital could be eased by a new park- and-ride at Blaina Wharf, Pill.

But, he warned, it would only work if the hospital told staff and patients to use the facility, and stopped them parking on roadsides around Stow Hill and Pill.

The £1m park-and-ride was approved by the Planning committee yesterday.

It will offer about 500 spaces, a shuttle bus service into the city centre, and could be ready in time for Christmas shopping.

Councillor Al-Nuami said: "We are going to need to provide parking if development is going ahead in the city centre. We've got to support this scheme.

"But we need to put pressure on the hospital to take part. Their lack of adequate car parking causes problems for hospital visitors and nearby residents. It seems they aren't doing anything to solve their own problems."

If the hospital supported the scheme it could solve parking problems and help guarantee the future of the park-and-ride scheme - which some councillors doubt will be popular.

A pilot scheme shuttle bus could run from the car park to the town centre, but will not take in the hospital.

Councillor Al-Nuami said after the meeting: "The hospital could support this by getting staff to park there and by laying on their own shuttle bus from the new car park to the hospital."

The car park on disused riverside land is designed to replace car parking to be lost when the proposed Newport shopping mall and university campus are built.

An initial pilot phase could run for the first six months of the four-year life of the car park.

A hospital spokesman said: "We are very interested and are talking to the council. We have an existing free bus service and could expand its route to take in the car park."

Planning committee member councillor David Atwell said he was concerned and "amazed" that the council was last week advertising for tenders from bus companies - a week before the plans had been fully approved.