There are many things broken in Barnet but having been at an angry traders meeting in North Finchley yesterday evening, parking may be top of the list.
The last Barnet Cabinet Member responsible for parking policy promised to put up charges “this year, next year and the year after” and was certainly true to his word. Cllr Dean Cohen took up the post, with great expectations of a change in policy, almost six months ago. But the consensus at the meeting was that scratchcards are not working and nothing has changed apart from a 30p cut in some car park charges – too little too late.
In fact, the consensus on parking extends far beyond a meeting of Barnet traders. The report earlier this year by shopping guru Mary Portas highlighted that the ability to be able to park cheaply and easily is integral to the success of high streets. And just this week, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said that he wants to expose “punitive parking practices”, well as in so many areas he does not need to look any further than (One) Barnet.
The traders demands are simple – cut parking charges, bring back cash meters and introduce a free parking period. With parking revenue down by over a £1m in the first quarter of the year alone, these changes would not only boost the number of shoppers but the Council’s income as well. We need action and we need it quickly!
He is very right. As a member of the Budget and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee We were shocked to see how big the shortfall in parking is. Its in such a bad state that, as Alan says, following our advice would make the council more money.
Many residents either in, or visiting East Finchley tell me how bad the parking system is. For the traders, the visitors and the local economy. It was quite a big concern to residents, along with One Barnet at the stall on Saturday.