19 June 2012

Mr Mustard welcomes the decision by Theresa Villiers to make changes to her views on parking.

A U-turn is recommended here

Mr Mustard is most interested by the latest information to appear on the website of his MP, Theresa Villiers, who is, it would appear, now on the side of parking charge campaigners. From her office in the top end of Chipping Barnet's high street she cannot have failed to notice how the shops are going downhill or simply going. To save your time Mr Mustard repeats the text below:-

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has welcomed the decision by Barnet Council to make changes to its parking policy.

Credit card machines will now be introduced in eight of the council’s town centre car parks that already charge for parking. Also, car parks in Theresa’s constituency in Church Hill Road in East Barnet and Osidge Lane and Brunswick Park Road in Brunswick Park Ward will remain free.

Parking scratch cards will be more widely available and local businesses will be able to buy vouchers at a discounted rate to sell on to shoppers. Alongside this, the Council is also exploring the possibility of introducing a 50p charge for fifteen minutes parking and considering the option of giving shoppers a few minutes free to enable them to nip into a shop for a newspaper or pint of milk. Half day visitor vouchers will also be introduced, priced at £2.20. (£2.20 is still a rip-off)

Theresa said, “It is welcome news that Barnet Council have listened to the concerns of residents, shoppers and business owners and are taking action to make Barnet’s parking system more user friendly and convenient.”

“It’s also good news that the Council are reviewing parking prices. In car parks and town centres, this will hopefully ensure that the right balance is found between attracting shoppers to our high streets and a steady turnover of customers for shopkeepers. I will be watching closely to see what they come up with.”
Here is the text of a letter that Ms Villiers sent to a constituent of Mr Mustard's acquaintance in January (he has cropped only the "Dear ...")

That letter looks to Mr Mustard to be a defence of what Barnet Council were doing and not "watching closely". Only a cynic would suggest that her fellow party members losing in the East Finchley by-election, Brian Coleman losing his GLA seat and Shaheen Mahmood failing to win in the Brunswick Park ward by-election have caused Theresa to feel uncomfortable for her prospects in May 2015.
"Theresa feels uncomfortable about her prospects in May 2015"
Mr Mustard (cynic).

Putting aside the fact that Theresa is a proper politician and so can change course without of course performing a u-turn. Let us look again at what advice Mr Mustard sent to Richard Cornelius on Friday, 2 December 2011

Dear Councillor Cornelius
Hero or Zero

Are you fed up with hearing about parking payment problems? Almost everyone is.

You are the Leader. You can fix this mess. Look at
New York Look at that lovely parking meter that takes cash and cards. Parkeon are one of the suppliers to Barnet Council.

Has anyone asked Parkeon if the current machines, which appear to be modular in design, can be adapted. I'll bet they can. Sure it will cost a few quid but £80,000 is being spent on removing and scrapping some perfectly good working machinery.

You will still need to employ some cash collection officers but, as more and more people use cards because it is convenient when the slot is there next to them ( like in Westminster as well as New York ) the need to empty the meters so often will diminish.

Have you looked at Big Society ways of dealing with the machines? How about having a team of shop-keepers in each location to empty them each day? A small commission to the traders for providing that service or placed in a special fund to improve their town centre?

There must be a better way than the current one which has been poorly thought out and is being badly implemented.

So, what is it to be? Hero or Zero?

Yours sincerely

Mr Mustard

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Dear Mr Mustard,
Thank you for your email.  I do not think that there is any future in the machines and now that we are developing the scratchcard option I feel that a lot of the objections to the pay by phone system will disappear.

Richard Cornelius

So there we have it. Richard should have listened to helpful Mr Mustard back in December and many of his troubles would have faded away, Brian might still be in the GLA, and the 2 by-elections might have been won by his side.

All but 3 of the old parking machines were to be sent to the scrapheap. An answer about the total scrap income is still awaited. The cost to buy and install a new machine is about £5,000 and 5 will be needed so that is £25,000 wasted by letting Brian have his head and then not listening to the barrage of criticism from residents who have to pay for the council's mistakes. If councillors had to make good any losses they caused they might make decisions with a little more thought.

Mr Mustard's suggestion to let traders buy in bulk at a discount is also being taken up.

It is good to see that Richard has finally listened but if it is going to take this long to reverse obviously stupid unworkable policies we are all going to have to shout louder and longer.

Mr Mustard will have to send Richard more emails containing his advice and hopefully Richard will take them more seriously from now on.

Your next big disaster Richard is the One Barnet programme. Up to 2,000 staff will be passed to external providers and they could make every single one redundant if they wish and move the jobs out of borough (except when they physically can't.) in order to pay less wages and pension contributions. There is going to be an awful lot of blood on your hands. The first 25 One Barnet back office parking jobs have already been moved to Worthing.

You are always welcome to pop in for a chat and a cup of tea Richard whenever you are in Chipping Barnet.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. The parking account shortfall might be because of the useless last government's failure to regulate casino banking, just like every other government. But it's "record deficit" was because it helped to save capitalism, and something that could be paid off over decades of renewed growth, when no-one would notice.

    It is Sir George Osborne's austerity which is more to blame, equating the UK's adequate long-term debt position with having to pay off a credit card, and saying we were as badly off as Greece.

  2. I am distracted by one of your comments wishing councillors were personally responsible for losses incurred by their actions. Would it not be a jolly good thing if those responsible for pushing through One Barnet became liable to some degree when the whole thing implodes? Perhaps, in fact, there is some sort of corporate responsibility or fiduciary duty which requires them to take some of the blame of - or rather when - the cracks start showing? What a pleasant thought.

  3. Sadly, Mrs A, it was your mate Tony B Liar who changed the Local Government Act, doing away with the provision for surcharging errant councillors.


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