It is a tradition at the Barnet Eye, we don't have a Friday joke on Good Friday. We have something a little more reflective. Only this year we don't. I spend most of my life mentally planning blogs, but today's planned blog all went out of the window. My heart just wasn't in what I'd been preparing.
Last night, we were playing five a side at Mill Hill Powerleague and my son hurt his knee going in for a tackle. He had to limp off and today, as he can't put weight on his leg, we had a trip up to the hospital. Well actually two hospitals. The first one we went to was Finchley memorial. On arrival, I tried to register for the parking, only to find that all of the parking machines were broken. There is three hours free parking, but you need to get a ticket. After wandering around in the rain, I decided to inform reception. They said "Oh, don't worry they are broken". A sign would be nice chaps, when you have someone who is immobile, it really is not good. After waiting half an hour, we were seen by a nurse who examined his leg, informed him that he needed an X-Ray and that as it was a bank holiday, the X-Ray unit was shut. She advised a trip to Barnet General.
So off we went to Barnet General. My wife had advised me that the parking machines took card, so I didn't bring any coins. Silly mistake. The machines only take coins. In the end, I had to register for the parking app. It took me ten minutes, standing in the rain. My son shuffled off to A&E on crutches, whilst I cussed and cursed. Adding insult to injury, it is 30p more to pay by phone. Four hours costs £4.30, which to me is a total rip off. They have a captive market. Most people visiting don't have the option of free parking on a side road half a mile away. By my reckoning, this makes it a scam, one which massively discriminates against less mobile citizens. In principle I have no issue contributing £4.30 to the NHS as my son saw a nurse, a doctor and had an X-Ray. I guess that in the USA the cost would be in the hundreds of pounds. I do however object to the fact that the money goes to a parking management company. As a business owner with a retail business, I know that handling cash is far more expensive than handling cards or electronic payments. The extra 30p for a pay by phone transaction is simply daylight robbery.
If Finchley Memorial can run their operation with free parking, how does Barnet justify the charges? If you have a relative with a chronic or terminal illness, then this could start to mount up and be a major expense. One that you can avoid if you are fit enough to park elsewhere, but if you can't for whatever reason, you are simply there to be fleeced.
I live in Mill Hill. Public transport would simply not have been an option for my son today, even on a good day, it would be two buses and a lengthy walk. We have three Conservative MP's in Barnet. One has to conclude that they don't give a damn.