Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Barnet Council Pay and Display - Latest update

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


Glartique said...

Dear Barnet Eye,
How does the council justify the high street parking price increase?

You used to be able to park for 15 mins for 30p (so one could pop into a shop quickly)now its £1 for 30 mins

the whole parking system in Barnet is a negative one,
parking chargers are meant to support the ebb and flow of traffic not seek to penalise tax payers to go about their every day business

you can park on the high street in Hampstead for 40p for 15mins, using coins and its quick and easy

what has happened to this Borough?
people complain about Coleman and write about him and nothing happens, is he some untouchable?
and people complain about the conservative council but they keep getting re elected its a farce!its not big society but big parking charges to slow the economy. Lets get Barnet Eyes suggestions into the local and national papers!

Mr A Phillips
Mill Hill

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Mr Phillips

The reason the Conservatives keep getting elected in Barnet is because Labour are even worse. At the last council elections, Labour made huge gains across London - except in Barnet. If Labour had a competent leader, the Conservatives could be better held to account. Yes, we all know that Alison Moore is a nice lady but she is simply not up to the job. It is actually a disgrace that the bloggers of Barnet provide the only credible opposition.

Mrs Angry said...

I was in Mill Hill Tuesday morning: I watched a solitary driver, a man with two restless small daughters, spend several minutes puzzling out how to pay, reading from the tiny printed notice. The Broadway was dead: pre xmas and hardly anyone shopping. When I came home I read about the shopkeepers' protest, and who could blame them? The same is happening in Finchley Central and North Finchley, where a major retailer has had to shut. The Tories are supposed to be the party which supports small businesses, and here they are, in the middle of a recession, killing trade on our town centres. They may not care about that, being a bunch of shiftless, self serving ne'er do wells, but even they must realise that they have destroyed their own electoral support. Or are they too obtuse? Difficult to tell.

Moaneybat said...

Given the very close relationship between the unelecte Tom Nathan, General Manager of Hammerson's Brent Cross Shopping Centre and Barnet Council, together with Hammerson's expansion of Brent Cross, any wonder why the local High Street retail business is being neutered? Well if one looks at some of those sitting on the Front benches, hardly small businessmen. They who give you low taxes but then destroy your business with their initiaves