As regular readers of this blog will know, as a result of Saracens moving to Barnet Copthall, a huge CPZ is to be imposed on matchdays for a period of five hours between 1pm and 6pm on a Saturday. It is also anticipated that there will be evening games. The Saracens spin machine has already kicked in, stating this is for only 16 match days. They have also outlined the bus shuttle services from local train stations.
Sadly, they miss the point. The point is that the CPZ will have a massive impact within the area. This will have huge implications for local churches. Take the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Mill Hill Broadway. This regularly holds wedding services on a Saturday. Many guests currently park in Flower Lane. This is now in the Saracens CPZ. This effectively rules out the use of the venue on these dates for large families (for which the Catholic Church is well known). It also affects parishioners attending the 6pm mass on a Saturday. Again many of these currently park in Flower Lane. Many of these residents are elderly and whilst a short walk from Flower Lane is manageable, parking elsewhere may be a completely different matter.
We also have St Michaels Church in Flower Lane, a Church of England Church, again popular for weddings as well as community events. The Free Church in Salcombe Gardens will be even more badly hit by the ban. At least Churches by Mill Hill Broadway have some degree of alternative. The Free Church has none at all. Also within the area is Mill Hill Cemetary, on Milespit Hill. I am rather intrigued by the way the line stops half way up Milespit Hill. It strikes me that the top half of the road will provide excellent free parking opportunities for Saracens visitors. This will cause parking mayhem for saturday activities at The Mount School and Mill Hill School.
It seems that the Sarries machine is getting into gear against opponents of this bonkers scheme. I recognise the need for parking management. The problem with this scheme is the timing and the scale. People attending Rugby will only definately be in the stadium for the duration of the game. That means that the zone only needs to be active for the majority of the game. A zone between 4pm and 5pm would adequately deter Rugby traffic with minimal effect on everyone else. It would not interfere with services at local churches. Weddings could be scheduled to avoid the times of the zone.
Perhaps my biggest worry is the effect on parking at Mill Hill Cemetary. How on earth will this be managed? If no steps are taken, the cemetary will become a free car park and mourners will be driven out. If it is managed, then relatives visiting from outside the Borough may be excluded.
This whole scheme needs far more thought.