3 October 2012

Let's appear to do something about the parking problem

The Parking consultation team at full speed
It must be at least 2 years ago that the residents of Chipping Barnet (or High Barnet as it is often otherwise known) were consulted about the operation of the CPZ. Since then, despite chasing by at least 2 of the neighbours nothing has been heard. There was a question about it at a residents' forum about 6 months ago and the answer was that there wasn't enough resource to deal with the answers (or more likely that the answers were not the ones that were wanted and so we got kicked into the long grass). Time for a question at the next residents' forum later this month (unless it is less than 6 months since the question was asked in which case we will be in the stupid position of being time-barred from asking about the ridiculous council delay - this is democracy as practised in Barnet) as, by some miracle, there has been plenty of time since then to get the Saracens CPZ onto the drawing board.

Having comprehensively messed up parking in Barnet in 2011 and set the whole of the borough's traders against them (well not the ones in Brent Cross obviously) instead of simply reversing the bonkers decision to remove parking meters the council simply blunder on despite howls of protest and constructive suggestions. Richard Cornelius and Dean Cohen simply tinker at the edges. A 30p reduction is meant to please traders? It shows an astonishing lack of understanding of the problems faced by Barnet's traders.

Anyway, the council, being bereft of ideas, decided to consult with traders. Mr Mustard should have been consulted but wasn't. The consultation end date was 28 September.

12 September 

Dear Sirs

We have operated a business in High Barnet for 25 years. We should be consulted about parking arrangements. The Consultation

Please send the referred to letter.

Yours sincerely

Guess what? Mr Mustard did not get a reply in time and missed the deadline. Never mind, it will be at least 2 years before anything happens so you can still write in if you like. Mr Mustard wrote again today.

Dear Sirs

I don't know why you didn't respond to my email of 11 September requesting a copy of the letter sent to businesses about parking and so I have missed your consultation deadline.

I am sure that you won't yet have considered the results so there is no prejudice in you now adding my views to the ones received.
In 2010 parking worked; traders and residents were not, on the whole, unhappy.

In 2012 parking is clearly broken with the expected income in the first quarter down by £600k (money talks); traders and residents are very unhappy and there is open revolt in certain quarters and the council, by merely tinkering at the edges, is risking the threat of widespread revolt.

Therefore, in the short term, the answer is simply to reverse what happened in 2011. So put parking meters back that accept cash & add the facility for credit cards. By all means retain pay-by-phone and in the years to come its use will increase although what is more likely is that it will be overtaken by some other new technology. Also put the charges back to what they were at the start of 2010.

In the long term for High Streets the council needs to implement the ideas set out in the Portas review. Primarily there needs to be a free parking period so that people start to visit the local town centres again. I used to visit North Finchley purely to visit the book shop as you could park outside for a while for free and this despite there being, at that time, 2 bookshops in Chipping Barnet (North Finchley had a stock range which wasn't available locally). I would inevitably also go into other shops whilst I was there. Once the now closed Borders opened at London Colney and parking restrictions existed at N Finchley I simply didn't visit that High Street any more (not until in the last 12 months when I found out about Cafe Buzz and when I visit there I either do it by motorcycle which is free to park or I park the van on the edge of the CPZ and walk in).

In addition, all restrictive hours need to be reviewed, as they are a hotchpotch, to see if their times could be reduced, especially CPZs as we have some that are for 1 hour, others all day and some town centres (e.g. Totteridge) without a CPZ and restrictions which are only intended to maximise traffic flow at peak hours. Our High Streets need to be put onto a level playing field with shopping centres which offer free parking even if all day free cannot be managed as there simply isn't the free space.

The areas covered by some of the CPZs are huge and far bigger than the handful of streets envisaged by their enabling legislation. The spread of them should be reviewed to see if they can be reduced as during their hours of operation many roads in all day zones sit empty which is a complete waste of a resource.

In summary, radical change and less local government interference in parking would be a good thing.

Make it simple to park, make it easy to pay, make the charges reasonable, and people will come back to the High St.

Yours sincerely

This email has been now been added to the response pile as Mr Mustard copied it to an Assistant Director to make sure something happened. 

Right, sit back and wait. Will it be days, weeks, months, years or decades before the results are published or will the answers simply be too unpalatable to the council and never see the light of day?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

No comments:

Post a Comment

I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.