Tuesday, 6 November 2012

It is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.

Last year Labour councillors called for an extraordinary meeting so that all councillors could discuss and vote on an amnesty on parking charges in the run up to Christmas.

Traders across the borough were suffering and the Tory Council perpetuated their problems with their eye-watering charges and baffling parking arrangements.
The meeting did not take place. The Tory Mayor did not accept the request.

So fast forward to January 2012. Another request and this time a YES, we can have our meeting to discuss Barnet’s notorious parking scheme. BUT calls to review the “eye-watering” parking charges were rejected when our beloved Tory councillors voted unanimously against, angering many traders sitting in the public gallery.

So another fast forward to summer. The diminutive Cllr Dean Cohen the new Cabinet Member for upsetting traders and son of Melvin, has decided to hold consultations with traders across the borough and we waited agog for his findings.

In North Finchley, the much loved surroundings for the late Horace, the home of Cafe Buzz and the setting for some alleged criminal activity, little Dean spent £30k of the Mayors Outer London Fund to ask traders what they thought of parking in Barnet. I was somewhat bemused why he felt the need to ask, wasn’t it abundantly clear what they thought, but hey ho I thought give the lad a chance.

So what were his findings and what wondrous things were going to happen to help our town centres and residents of the Borough?

Well what did we get

·         Half-day visitor vouchers for controlled parking zones will be introduced as soon as possible. These will be priced at £2.20. They of course went up from £1 to £4 so not really a cut
·         Credit card machines to be introduced in eight of the council’s car parks that currently charge for parking
·         No new car park charges in the following car parks: Egerton Gardens NW4, New Brent St NW4, Church Hill Rd EN4 and Quakers Court NW9
·         No fees in Dawes Lane car park
·         And an increase the availability of parking vouchers, businesses will be able to buy vouchers at a discount. Details to be announced shortly. Not sure how that actually worked out

Cllr Cohen also asked officers to explore the possibility of introducing a 50p for fifteen-minute parking tariff. He at the time said: “I appreciate that many people just want to nip into a couple shops and this would make it much easier. I have asked officers to explore the possibility of introducing such a voucher although we have to look at the economics of this”.

So pressing the forward button again it is now November and parking is again on the agenda.  Are you getting a feeling of Déjà Vous yet?

Labour have called again for another parking amnesty in the run up to Christmas to help traders across the borough. And you would hope that this would be supported by all councillors with no dissenting voice.

But what do we get today another announcement from little Dean panicked by such initiative.

We now know what he wants to do to revive North Finchley. No no amnesty, no reversal of the eye-watering parking charges but a ‘pilot’ where: 

·         A 35% reduction in current parking charges on-street to increase turnover with a proportionate slightly less reduction for off-street car parks to ensure overall parity.
·         The introduction of dedicated business parking bays within off-street car parks, to increase on-street parking space. 
·         Making a number of on-street parking bays a 2 hour maximum stay to increase turnover.
·          Adapting existing on street loading bays to allow a 15 minutes free parking period after 10am to promote rapid turnover.
·          Introducing a 15 minute stay facility on pay-by-phone bays.  
·          Introducing a number of new ‘Pay-by-Phone’ short-stay parking bays at specific locations in the High Street to increase on street parking availability. Although this will only happen in the New Year – YES after Christmas

So some action, but there are pitfalls a plenty, the Barnet Bloggers have had great fun pulling the plans apart whilst recognising that little Dean has done something to ease their troubles.

Now I’m not going to be a scrooge about this Little Dean has done more than previous Tory incumbents in this post and it is a welcome change. BUT what about the other struggling town centres. Will Dean become a big man and support Labour’s call for a Christmas amnesty?


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