8 December 2011

RIO = Stuff the motorist

Sorry it doesn't mean that. It means Revenue Income Optimisation. That is what it means in OneBarnet speak. In plain English it means put prices up.

Last year Barnet Council commissioned a report to look at Parking Enforcement - or so the report says. In fact it isn't about enforcement at all ( I do need to tell readers from outside of the borough this is completely normal in Barnet Council, the mis-use of normal meaning - a phrase like "putting the Community First" could be translated as "Putting the Boot In" - to motorists, the elderly, crossing patrols, old peoples homes, council house tenants, Pinkham Way residents, oh the list goes on and on ) - in fact when the world of blogging is quiet at Xmas, to amuse Mr Mustard he might do himself a list of every group of residents that the council have upset during the last 18 months to see if there is a single resident left in the borough who hasn't been nobbled in one way or another.

Mr Mustard digresses. You want to see the report don't you? Fair enough. We paid for it. Here it is. You can make the pages larger by clicking on them but if still too small please send an email to mrmustard@zoho.com for your personal copy.

Now that is very interesting is it not? This report is from 2010. I am not sure the exact date nor the cost although it won't be cheap ( he will tell you that in 20 working days time - do remember to pop back ).

So this report on "enforcement" is supposedly a supporting document for the charges to be increased in Barnet following details work by council officers. Hmm, let's see.

Mr Mustard is not keen on being seen as an opportunity. The opportunity for the council to put it's hand deeper in his pocket and take out extra money for absolutely nothing in return. That would be a bad bargain. So the simple plan set out on page 1 is to charge more for:

parking in a CPZ,
residents parking permits - to go up to £60 ( this seems to have got lost in translation )
parking for visitors ( what is that sign you see as you enter Barnet "Not welcome to Barnet" )
parking at Brent Cross ( no longer free )
free spaces - make them standard price. 2,700 spaces removed at a stroke. Nasty.
Car parking inflation to be 10% in Barnet.

Page 2 sees the idea of charging for parking at Brent Cross mooted. The council hope to get £2.9m from this source but don't know if they are contractually entitled to do anything ( will that stop them from trying? ) They kindly suggest giving a share to the owners of Brent Cross on page 6. Mr Mustard thinks that John Lewis will have something to say about Barnet Council turning down the flow of shoppers and it may even be in their contract with Brent Cross that parking remains free.. Mr Mustard thinks that some conditions have been put into the Brent Cross redevelopment scheme but will let others tell him what they are in regards to parking. Bluewater are going to do very nicely out of this.

Page 3. We haven't seen anything yet in this report that justifies the use of expensive outside consultants. Teenagers on a business course at school could have prepared a better report than this one, and for free. This page is full of untested assumptions so the figures cannot be relied upon. It looks like there was a plan to put 2 PD ( pay & display - so old hat for Barnet the clueless cashless borough ) machines into each zone where the free bays were removed. £5,000 to put each new machine in.

Page 4. Visitor permits at £2 each instead of the £4 they became. Still a hefty increase from £1. Don't believe that nonsense about the number in circulation. Mr Mustard has loads tucked away in the desk drawer as well many sensible residents who purchased at £1. That number 196,340 is probably the number issued in 12 months. The report envisages that if you double the price of something demand stays the same. What utter rot.

Page 5. Comparative boroughs. Lambeth ( otherwise known as Lambert later in the report - the Borough of Lambert does sound much posher ). You simply cannot compare Lambeth to Barnet in terms of parking, Lambeth is an inner London borough. It touchs the south side of the Thames at Waterloo. Haringey is only like the most southerly parts of Barnet, it is sheltered from the M25 by the whole of Enfield and wikipedia says that in some places Haringey is considered as an inner London borough. There isn't a third classification but if there was Haringey would be a mid London borough and Barnet would still be outer. Croydon is an interesting choice. In many ways it is most like the City of London with all those dreadful tower blocks. The tram system also offers a real choice for better travel. It's nothing like Barnet. 

The comparisons for visitor parking should have included Enfield, Hertsmere, Harrow, Brent.

The other comparisons for residents' and visitors' permits do at least show some fairer comparisons but Camden?

Page 6. Shopping centres. No mention of the Galleria at Hatfield, the Howard Centre at Welwyn, the Harlequin at Watford, Costco, retail parks everywhere e.g Edmonton around the north circular and so on.

Risks. Mr Mustard's summary for Barnet Council. "We have no idea"

Page 7. Do some work.

Page 8. A spreadsheet. Completely unreliable as all based on assumptions.

Page 9. More numbers that were too low so Brian Coleman made up his own mind.

Is our money well spent on this sort of report which then gets ignored. No.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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