The Hendon and District residents forum last night reported the latest status on Pay and Display parking. The scheme to introduce Scratchcards is to be implemented as follows :-
Target date for implementation is Monday 5 December but we
are in the hands of the printers
Scratch cards will cost £2 each; the minimum amount purchased
in a single transaction is four cards
From early December they will be available online to purchase
from the Parking web page
They will not be available to purchase through libraries
Retailers will be able to sell Scratch Cards if they wish but there
will be no discount.
This was reported at the Hendon & District residents forum yesterday (papers here)
It is quite clear that Barnet Council is making it as difficult and expensive as possible for residents to use the scheme. Not selling them via libraries is scandalous. Many people visit libraries such as Mill Hill which are in pay and display areas. It is ridiculous that someone visiting the library and parking near it cannot purchase the scratchcard there. It is also scandalous that cheapest scratchcard is £2, when the cheapest pay by phone charge is £1. For many people on a quick visit to purchase milk or a paper, this becomes an extortionate charge, costing two or three times the cost of the purchase item.
Surely this is discriminatory against those with no phone. As to the proposal that retailers have to pay the full mark up for the cards, this is completely ridiculous. Does no one in Barnet understand the concept of business. I'm most disappointed that a Council run by a small businessman (Richard Cornelius runs a jeweller) has come up with such a scheme.
The former leader of Barnet Council (now MP for Finchley), Mike Freer, used to have regular "Leader Listens Business Breakfasts". I attended a couple of these meetings.They were useful forums for traders to air such issues and to suggest improvements to the implementation of such schemes. Sadly these were quietly dropped under Lynne Hillans leadership and completely abandoned under Cornelius. As the small business community are generally Conservative leaning and the council is lead by a small businessman, it is truly bizarre that the sector is so crassly ignored.
Before the last election, the Barnet Eye launched a proposal for 1/2 hour free parking in Mill Hill Broadway (our local shopping centre), with a view to rolling the scheme out across Barnet. This would be a massive boost for local traders in a time of economic hardship. Although the retailers universally supported the proposal and the local Tory Councillors agreed that it should be looked at, once elected the Tories forgot this. Under Brian Coleman (Barnet Councillor responsible for parking) they have gone in the opposite direction and become more expensive and more difficult to pay.
The Barnet Eye calls for an urgent review of parking across Barnet. The Federation of Small Business (FSB) has backed the proposals for 1/2 hour free parking in town centres. This seems a sensible compromise. The Barnet Eye supports the following proposals for parking in Barnet :-
1. Free Parking for 1/2 hour in all Town Centres
2. Scratch Cards for all amounts payable by mobile phone
3. A 30% discount on all scratchcard for retailers
4. Scratchcards to be on sale at all local libraries
5. A review of the CPZ parking charges, with a view to a more equitable scheme
6. Removal of the free permit for Barnet Councillors.
Of course this will cost money. Times are hard and the Council will say "typical blogger, suggesting unfundable schemes". There is a simple way to fund this. There is one area of Barnet High Streets that are thriving, which add nothing to the community. This is betting shops. There has been much discussion as to the explosion in numbers of these and the detrimental effect on the High Street. My solution would be to fund the above High Street changes by increasing the cost of a betting shop license to pay for it. I believe that these changes would make the Barnet High Streets a far better place to open a business. If it lead to a reduction in the number of betting shops, even better. Barnet Council has no strategy for improving the local High Streets, beyond the rather unConservative idea of getting a handout from the taxpayer in the form of a bung from the Mayor (as seen in the scheme to tart up High Barnet).
I have discussed these ideas with a couple of more sensible Conservative Councillors and they agreed that the ideas warranted further investigation. Sadly their senior colleagues seem less than interested. From what I've heard they should think again