15 November 2011

Putting Barnet's Businesses First - or last ?

Do you remember 2009? Especially 21 October 2009? No! Well that was the day on which the Cabinet met and discussed the recession in Barnet. Here is the report that they came out with ( they probably expect that everyone has forgotten about it )

Here is the link

and here in Scribd
Responding to the Recession in Barnet

So, back in 2009 Barnet Council were worried about the effect of the recession on small and medium sized businesses ( page 20 ).

So what were they doing?

Piloting parking initiatives - putting up prices and making it hard to pay since then. 

Leader listens - not the current one! programme abandoned.

Business Support Officer - These seem to exist in several departments. Mr Mustard notices that, after a google search, he found 3 vacant posts with this title in the One Barnet department. If there are any Business Support Officers who are supporting business in Barnet please do let Mr Mustard know.

Section 106 - Mr Mustard has a list of the S106 contributions due and paid or not. He will have to stick in another FOI request to see whether developers are actually being asked to buy locally. Any bets that the answer will be none at all?

Prompt payment to business - You have to laugh. Barnet Council say they were paying 97% of suppliers within the agreed 30 day contract terms. They were paying MetPro without even having a contract. Over a £1m !

Business Rate Relief - Doubtless this is underwritten by central Government or else Barnet would not be so keen on it.
Small Business Rate Relief

Reduction of street parking charges - The ones that have recently been increased ! Any initiatives for Xmas 2011? Mr Mustard hasn't seen any. Free after 3pm ? Not in 2011.

Move forward 2 years and just think about parking.

With the death of parking by the simple expedient of putting cash into a parking meter there will shortly be 3 ways of paying for parking in Barnet.

Method 1. Register with Verrus and pay by credit or debit card. Verrus will receive a commission of 5%. You need a mobile phone for this one otherwise please go somewhere else. It also costs more because of the cost of the phone call or text. Mmm. Could that be the basis of a legal challenge?

Method 2. Pay at a PayPoint shop. PayPoint will charge 5%, minimum 15p ( so 15% on a £1 charge ).

Method 3. Buy a scratchcard (soon) from a library or a local shop. This is covered in the DPR. 1493 which you can download here or can look at in Scribd in the box below:

DPR 1493 Scratch Cards Barnet Council

So look at paragraph 2.1.

The addition of a further method of payment for on and off street parking is expected to encourage the use of town centre parking in the borough. If shopkeepers purchase a supply of parking scratch cards they can offer this to their customers. It is possible that shopkeepers may wish to include a 'convenience cost' to the cards which the Council cannot be held responsible for.

If local shops want to supply these scratch cards then they won't get a penny in commission from the council for buying in bulk and paying in advance. They have to sell a scratchcard to their customer with a value of £2 and say £2.10 or £2.20 please ? It isn't going to work now is it? Why should a shopkeeper stock anything from which he/she does not make a profit? If the shopkeeper added 10p to the cost of your daily paper you would complain; why won't people complain about a surcharge if such an extra charge is demanded? Is this discriminatory against those people who don't have a mobile phone?

So the simple summary is that if you are mega-corporation you get 5% from the Council.

If you are Mr Corner Shop of Barnet, you are on your own.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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