|Not Dean Cohen is it?|
Mr Mustard notes the unfortunate timing of this article in the local Times newspaper. I repeat the text below for your convenience:
Reintroducing cash parking meters in Barnet would have “significant financial implications”, the councillor in charge of policy has warned. (No mention of significant potential benefits for traders. Why the heck do we choose such blinkered councillors, not just you Dean!)
Barnet Borough Council announced this morning it has charged a five-person panel with the task of assessing the success of the borough’s controversial switch to pay-by-phone.
The task and finish group, made up of Conservative and Labour councillors, will look at the possibility of reintroducing cash parking before making their recommendations to the council’s cabinet committee.
But Councillor Dean Cohen, cabinet member for environment, which includes parking, warned that any U-turn must be financially sound. (Was the move away from parking meters financially sound? It didn't save a great deal for the council and cost many traders thousands of pounds in lost custom)
He said: “There is obviously a significant financial implication to introducing cash meters and that money will obviously have to be found from somewhere.” (Yes, from the mahoosive income of the parking department, that is the first call on it)
"I have already conducted a review of parking across the high street over the past year and that has been a real success. I am now looking at a complete review of parking policy in the borough including the wider impact of parking charges and restrictions.
“We have already conducted some focus groups with residents on the early stages of this. I will be very interested to see the conclusion of the task and finish group which will be a useful contribution to this review."
To Mr Mustard this looks like Dean is lukewarm at the very least about the idea of cash parking meters and that he also has the wrong idea about where the money comes from. He might even have pre-judged the issue, let us hope he hasn't.
Where the money comes from is simple. The council have put a projected surplus from parking of £7.5m after costs into the annual budget of the council. This is then used to defray other costs, like freedom passes.
The first thing that income should be used for, is the operating costs of the parking controls themselves. there is plenty of money available.
Of course, if a smaller surplus being available for other items, like freedom passes, is going to cause a problem then that is proof that parking is being used as a Revenue Raising power which is against the law (as the Judicial Review on Resident permit charges proved) so Dean the problem is that the budget, on which you doubtless voted, is all wrong. Mr Mustard told you this about a year ago (and Richard Cornelius, the "leader" and Chris Naylor, S151 Officer responsible for Finance - who said it was a political decision but the councillors need his finance skills to help balance the books)
Now Dean, Mr Mustard is watching you, and your colleagues, very closely. If there is a sniff of Revenue raising you might find yourselves back in the High Court. Let's not go there eh?