Question 60 Councillor Alison Moore
Some local businesses are citing the cashless parking service and huge parking charge increases as a major reason for a reduction in trade, and even for shops and businesses closing down - when will the Cabinet Member listen to local people and reverse the enormous and unfair parking charge increases that he imposed last year?
Answer by Councillor Brian Coleman
Since Christmas there have been an interesting set of announcements to the Stock Exchange from many retail companies and a number of chains have called in the receivers. What all trading announcements had in common was that Internet sales are booming. Even Tescos have announced relatively poor trading and the vast majority of their supermarkets have free car parks. We need to manage these dramatic changes in the High Street , more flexibility on change of use, support for the nightime economy , more intelligent Planning decisions , the promotion of There are more empty shops in Whetstone where there are no parking controls than North Finchley where there are . The parking income figures prove the numbers visiting our High Streets and elsewhere are buoyant. Quality retail businesses that are flexible will always survive those that are not will go to the wall.
The lazy cop out is to blame the Council--
I could ask WTF Brian Coleman knows about running a business, given that he makes his living from a string of taxpayer financed non jobs. Let us consider what Coleman said in a bit more detail. Firstly Brian Coleman acknowledges that High Street retailers are struggling and that this may be related to the boom in on line trading. This shows a complete lack of understanding of what makes a successful High Street. Firstly Brian Coleman implies that the only businesses on the High Street are retailers. In North Finchley the person leading the campaign against High Street parking charges is Helen Michaels. She runs a Cafe. The leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius acknowledged that restaurants are keeping many Barnet High Streets alive. Coleman clearly has no understanding that someone like Helen makes her living from passing trade, people buying a cup of tea and a sandwich. Don't such businesses matter. Then Coleman talks about the figures from Tesco's. Again Coleman shows a complete ignorance of that retailers business. Coleman states that the majority of their sites have car parks. In actual fact, the majority of Tescos outlets are small Tescos Express type outlets. These do not have parking facilities and are located on the High Street. Tescos have spent a fortune building this chain up and are as a result now far more vulnerable to the vampiric parking policies of the likes of Brian Coleman.
When Coleman talks about what needs to be done to re-energise the High Streets, he completely ignores the fact that the parking charges he's championed are the biggest single factor damaging businesses. Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of his outburst is the bit where he trumpets his own incompetence and uselessness. He exclaims that Whetstone is a less successful town centre, with many boarded up shops, than North Finchley. Who is the councillor for Whetstone? None other than Brian Coleman. If you needed a more stark example of what happens when you have a completely useless councillor, you couldn't find a better example.
His claim that retailers blaming the Council is a "lazy cop out" is offensive. Last week I had a meeting with North Finchley traders. Did I get the impression I was talking to a bunch of lazy bastards? Not at all. In fact, nothing could have impressed me more than their attitude. Helen Michaels said "We are not looking for handouts, all we want is for our customers to not be penalised when they park". Brian Coleman exemplifies all that is bad in career politicians. He fails to listen to anyone. He spouts complete nonsense about subjects he knows nothing about and he makes offensive comments about anyone who has the audacity to argue with him. He is standing for the GLA in May, at the same time as the elections for Mayor of London. If he wins, he will get £50,000 a year for doing a part time job. I think he's shown that he is unfit for this role.
Coleman claims that "The parking figures prove our High Streets are buoyant". I suspect that when the GLA Election results are published, those figures will "prove that the People of Barnet think Brian Coleman is useless".