Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Guest Blog - Lead up the garden path by a dishonest council - By Helen Michael

By Helen Michael,
I wandered along the High Road in North Finchley to remind the traders to send their parking review questionnaires back to the council.  Lo and behold yet another coffee shop has closed down.  The second in two months.  Now you might think I would be pleased bearing in mind I own (well the bank does) Cafe Buzz along the same High Road, but let me assure I was alarmed and deeply upset by this.  An indication of how hard it is to make any money in an area which is fast becoming a ghost town as a direct result of the ridiculously expensive parking charges and stupidly complicated method of payment imposed by Barnet Council towards the latter part of this year.

I knew both cafe owners.  Honest hard working people who invested money in their businesses, both remortgaging their homes to set up, now facing possible financial ruin.

I have spent an incredible amount of time petitioning the council on this matter over the past 9 months, it will be over a year since they introduced this system before they actually do something, if at all.  How many more businesses will close down before something is done?

This review is of course a complete waste of time and a really bad PR exercise.  They know at the council what the issues are.  Simply too expensive and unusable.  I, and many many residents and traders throughout the borough have been telling them this since day one.  The solution.  Make it cheaper make it easier to use.  What exactly is the point of the review?   

Problem and solution.   How difficult can it be?

A waste of time and resources. 

I wonder Whether Barnet Council has a hidden agenda.

The extension of Brent Cross is in conflict with national policy of promoting the high street. There is usually a sweetener for granting planning permission...

We cant get away from people wanting to go to Brent Cross and of course it can be useful, so our town centres need to be attractive  and on an equal playing field. Brent Cross enjoys easy access and free parking.

Our town centres are becoming increasingly run down. Most of the businesses along the high road are small and independent.  We invest lots of time and our own money on our shops.  We employ local people and contribute to the local economy.  Our rent,rates and expenses have increased, and our ability to make a living has been taken away by the short sighted and ignorant out of touch Barnet Council.

When a local business fails and closes down there is a real human cost. 

Mary Portas and Jack Straw have made it absolutely clear that town centres should be encouraged. Ms Portas has actually said that he government should stop paying lip service and action should be taken NOW otherwise there is no point to her work.

The mood amongst shoppers and traders are at an all time low. 

Make the High Road easily accessible and cheap to visit. Create a community again, locally.  Watch people come back.

Give the traders a fighting chance.
Helen Michael is a local business owner and spokesperson for Barnet Traders fair parking campaign.

Guest blogs are always welcome


Scotch Hopper said...

I think it's time to put pictures of Cornelius in our windows in a new poster campaign.

I believe they actively want the High Streets to fail. It's all part of the Tory asset stripping mentality. I also believe Pickles is a white wash, as was the Portas review - this goes right to the top, to be witnessed up and down the country.

There is at least one property developer here in High Barnet that is in cahoots with the council - his main objective is to drive up rents and drive down freehold property prices to enable him to buy up more. He then completes the cycle by installing rubbish shops: his shops include charity shops, cash for gold, payday loans, opticians and estate agents!

Lying Barnet council simply don't care.

Mr Mustard said...

If a new poster is done then I will need a few to put in the van windows whilst I am at countless public council meetings. Councillors and officers notice the adverts on the blogger bus. It would be even better with a nice Corny poster on it as the van is usually bang outside the town hall.

It isn't election time so no petty rules to fall foul of either.

baarnett said...

I see that Property Week this issue explains that Brent Cross will double in size, and that the plans will go through the planning committee in the new year.

I wonder if the Barnet Bugle would kindly consider modifying his position, namely that shops that make the effort to compete, and excel at providing good service, can always survive and prosper against the likes of Brent Cross.

Any 'attractions' that might be built at Brent Cross, like multi-screens and bowling, ought to be put in town centres, because why will anyone go to them any more, if people carry on transferring their custom to the internet?

myarm said...

Thanks for this - a bit of an eye opener given we're currently in the process of renovating the former O'Neills pub on the High Road. Issues like this matter very much to us so if you can, drop by when we open next week and say hi to me (Michael) or Dean, the manager.
Michael (The Bohemia)