Sunday, 25 November 2012

Barnet is parking mad



November 19 came and went. It was the day Barnet Council promised to have everything ready for a pilot scheme of cheaper and easier parking in North Finchley after a year of consultation. But the promised reduced price vouchers were nowhere to be found, nowhere to be bought.  The Council had none to sell. No-one seemed to know anything about them.

Similarly, the promised extra parking bays intended to replace some double yellow lines in order to provide extra parking spaces had not materialised.

Do the Council's promises mean anything or are they just unable to get their act together? Is the Council rendered impotent by NSL, the private company to whom Barnet parking is outsourced? 

The frustration expressed last week in local newspapers by Helen Michael, the owner of Cafe Buzz in Finchley High Road is entirely justified. Cllr Dean Cohen's crowing must be galling: “With significantly lower parking prices," he writes, "extra parking bays and 15 minutes free parking at a number of locations, I hope residents will make the most of their local high-street and take advantage of the wide variety of shops on offer in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.” 

But the special parking concession for Christmas turns out to be two free hours parking on Saturday, 22nd and Sunday 23rd December. As the 23rd is a Sunday and Sunday parking is free in any case, it seems whoever made this rule had no idea what they were doing, because this means in effect that the Sunday 'concession' changes nothing and is no concession at all. So it is only for one day before Christmas, Saturday 22nd, so close to Christmas that most shopping will already be done, that shoppers will be able to park free for 2 hours. Parking for more than two hours will incur the usual penalty. The hoped-for free parking over the Tally Ho Ho Ho weekend,14th & 15th December is not going to happen.
Traders have so many plans and are putting so much effort into making Christmas a wonderful, community experience for local residents with exciting festive events, special eating offers and convenient, seasonal shopping.  The Tory Council could ruin everything for shoppers and shop keepers at the busiest shopping time of the year. Along with NSL the Council is crippling the business of small traders, who say business has dropped 40% due to the unacceptably high parking charges and the payment methods.  

There is some good news and we have to be grateful for any mercies, however small. The crippling parking charges have been reduced by up to 35% and there will be 15 minute free parking slots after 10 am, and parking in car parks will be £3.50 for a whole day. The new cheaper charges are all listed below. 

But who thinks up the confusing, complicated system of different bays having different rules and charges differing on street and off street? NSL, who are purely profit-motivated, have been losing money because parking is too expensive and too much hassle. The parking regulations are bad for everyone. Things have to change to promote the prosperity and well-being of the Borough and bring it back to life. Meanwhile we must take advantage of the changes offered to us and live in hope.

The Council will be adapting eight loading bays in North Finchley to enable 15 minutes free parking between 10am and 4pm.
The new tariff structure will be as follows – noting that different parking places in North Finchley may have different maximum stays (For example there are “up to 4 hour” parking places, and all day stay bays on-street): 

Short stay new tariff (2 hour max)
Up to 15 mins:            £0.35
Up to 30 mins:            £0.65
Up to 1 hour:              £1.30
Up to 2 hours:            £2.60

Medium stay new tariff (4 hour max)
Up to 30 mins:            £0.65
Up to 1 hour:              £1.30
Up to 4 hours:            £3.25
Long stay new tariff  (all day stay bays)
Up to 30 mins:            £0.65
Up to 1 hour:              £1.30
Up to 3 hours:            £2.60
Over 3 hours:             £4.55
Off-Street  (car parks)
Up to 30 mins:           £0.65
Up to 1 hour:             £1.30
Up to 90 mins:          £1.95
Up to 2 hours:           £2.60
Over 2 hours:            £3.25

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