11 September 2012

Black Tuesday in North Finchley


Since at least the start of July, North Finchley has been suffering the attentions of a person or persons unknown who has taken to spray painting the parking signs black thus meaning that motorists could park for free. Now this is naughty behaviour but perfectly understandable when you have a council that doesn't really listen to traders about the 30% downturn in business they have suffered. Richard Cornelius, the council "leader" claims to listen and then says there is nothing he can do or else postulates the theory that a good conservative does nothing. Well Councillor Brian Coleman certainly did something. He single-handedly ruined many businesses in Barnet in 2011 when he hoiked up the charges and took away the cash parking meters. Cash was a convenient payment medium for everybody in the country save for the Queen, who famously doesn't carry money.

Councillors are tinkering with the charges taking 30p off here and there and talking about introducing meters again (when? some unknown future date) for credit and debit cards at least and are now consulting businesses about what they should do. The answer is simple, go back to the situation in 2010 BC (Before Coleman).

Despite having a registered Limited company business in Barnet since 1987 Mr Mustard's alter ego was not on the list of businesses whose business received a consultation letter. He has asked for one. Will it arrive by the 28 September deadline?

What should Barnet Council have done with a vandalised sign? They should have replaced it. They should have done that as many times as vandalism occurred. Ironic that one of the claimed reasons why parking meters were taken away was the cost of repairing vandalised machines (which wasn't as bad as was made out and a profit of £5m p.a. was still made even after all costs of maintenance and cash collection). It has taken the council or NSL at least 2 months to replace these vandalised signs. In the parking contract it says that lines and signs are the responsibility of NSL (although the cost will get passed on doubtless with a markup) and word on the street is that Barnet Council are having to do them because NSL would not take responsibility for signs and lines until they were brought up to snuff.

Simply fixing signs wasn't the council's or NSL's plan. Instead all of a sudden this morning workmen turned up and replaced all of the vandalised signs and a posse of 6 traffic wardens descended like praying mantises and gave all the cars parking tickets. The motorists who have been penalised are not the people who vandalised the signs; they are innocent bystanders caught out by the childish behaviour of the council or their contractor NSL. If this has happened in your area, anywhere in the Country, do please let Mr Mustard know. Unamused Mr Mustard wrote to the "interim" Director of Environment, Planning & Regeneration (parking tickets are not going to regenerate North Finchley now are they?) with a copy to Declan Hoare, the Assistant Director of Highways, and Ian Baruch the Parking Manager (a temp from Hays HR because the council haven't yet been able to find a permanent employee) and to all 63 councillors who need to start to exert some authority over the senior officers if they want to be re-elected in May 2014.

This is what he wrote:

Dear Ms Wharfe

North Finchley this morning

Council has just changed the blacked out parking notices and then systematically given everyone parked there a ticket, no warning, nothing.

Looked liked the (6 at least) parking attendants were laid on especially

police called

I am aware that a naughty individual has blacked out some signs and they may or may not be parked there today.

Was this vindictive and stupid idea of retribution one thought up by a member of your team or by NSL?

Innocent motorists are now suffering for having parked perfectly properly and then made into rule breakers by the acts of the council or its contractor.

I note this was done the morning after the North Finchley Traders Forum.

The council really is going out of its way to win friends and influence people.

By the way, there is a general requirement at law for the council to be fair in its dealings with motorists. Do you suppose that a swoop of this kind fits into the fair" category?

Yours sincerely

Mr Mustard looks forward to reading the reply.

This is what the council website says its wardens will do:

"We aim to deliver a good quality service in a fair manner, and to provide help and assistance"

except in North Finchley where the traffic wardens saw the signs being installed and then pounced. If you received one of those tickets Mr Mustard will help you appeal for free. Wait until the Notice to Owner arrives and then contact mrmustard@zoho.com

Why did it take from 4 July when the following photograph was taken until 11 September to change a few signs?

This week Barnet Council countenanced squatting at Friern Barnet library. They may just have opened the floodgates to copycat anarchist actions as that is what they react to.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. Husband and I (North Finchley residents) both agree that it's ABSURD that, having clearly seen that the cashless parking system simply doesn't work for our community, the council are, as you say, tinkering with prices rather than putting their hands up, admitting the error and re-introducing meters.
    Last time I tried the cashless system, when a visitor came to stay and I was out of visitor parking permits, we were both (on 3 different phones) completely unable to get through to the number provided on the sign, and hence left without any recourse. No alternative number was provided to report faults with the main line, and we had no idea whether wardens would accept the note we placed in the window to explain.
    I appreciate that there is a cost involved to maintaining and emptying cash from the ticket machines we had previously, but since a profit was made overall, these costs clearly aren't that onerous.


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