Friday 2 January 2015

Barnet Council and parking enforcement

Many apologies to the readers of the Barnet Eye. I missed this press release from Barnet Council, posted on Xmas Eve, which tells us on what days parking restrictions are enforced -

Why this wasn't published a couple of weeks before the holiday period and shared with the press, so we could plan our visits to friends and family accordingly. I for one thought Barnet Council enforced CPZ's on Bank holidays and as such had friends parking miles away on Boxing day and yesterday. As ever Barnet cannot do the simple things sensibly.

Whilst on the subject of parking restrictions, we had a high street parking amnesty in high streets for Saturdays in December. This measure was designed as a way of "helping the high street". Now as the Council clearly thinks High Streets are good for the community and should be helped, then surely the question must be asked "why only Saturdays in December?". If healthy High Streets are good for the community and free parking on Saturdays helps them in December, then why are High Streets being clobbered for the rest of the year?

Barnet Council uses parking as a cash cow. There policy is like a leech, draining blood from the High Street, making it ever harder for traders to make a living. As such the High Streets are ethnically cleansed of independent shops, small traders and family run cafe's. In there place we get bookies, estate agents, fried chicken outlets and estate agents. I don't know about you, but I for one don't find a High Street full of such outlets to be healthy.

Up until 2010, Barnet had reasonably sensible parking policies. You could park cheaply in High Streets,paying with coins at Pay and Display machines. After the 2010 council election, the Conservative run council, under parking supremo Brian Coleman decided (rather foolishly) to declare war on local High Streets and motorists. They abolished pay and display, hiked up costs and implemented massive hikes to CPZ parking permits. Coleman paid for this in 2012, losing his seat on the GLA (and the fat salary that went with it). By alienating a formerly staunch Tory community of small business owners, Andrew Dismore stormed into office, turning a 20,000 Tory majority into a Labour majority of the same margin.

This year we have a general election. Our local Tory MP's Matthew Offord and Mike Free have been highly supportive of Brian Colemans parking policies. Neither have lifted a finger to help small businesses locally. Local business owners, such as Helen Michael at Cafe Buzz in Finchley, have ditched a lifelong association with the Conservatives in exasperation at their lack of interest in the small business community.

We only get elections every five years for Parliament. It gives us a chance to boot out the likes of Freer and Offord when they don't do their job. Until May, we have their ear in a way we wouldn't normally. So my advice is this. If you think the Barnet Tories parking policies are damaging local business, tell Mr Freer or Mr Offord when they knock on your door. Tell them that if they don't sort it out by May, you will vote for someone else. They will probably tell you that they have no power over what the council does. This is nonsense. Both Freer and Offord are senior local politicians and work hand in hand with their council colleagues to deliver what they consider to be "Conservative Policies". If the local Tories think that their policies will damage their MP's chances (both seats are marginal), they will pull their finger out.

You may wonder why our MP's are not sympathetic to small business? Mike Freer worked for Barclays Bank and Matthew Offord worked for the BBC before they became MP's. Does this give you a small clue?

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