2 January 2014

Business as usual / not as usual?

Parking Policy Task and Finish Group - 6 Jan 14 by MisterMustard

Mr Mustard is ready for his first committee meeting of the year. The above item is the one that interests him. He was at the meeting in October 13 at which the decision was made to do a cost benefit analysis of introducing cash parking meters in High Streets and car parks and a person or persons unknown is already trying to derail it.

Officers (employees) may well be carrying our a Parking Improvement Project (and being able to pay by cash on the spot would self evidently be an improvement) but the question that is being over-looked is that it is councillors who decide on policy which officers should then implement. For that reason alone the Task & Finish Group should continue. There was widespread dismay, and a fall in parking revenue, and a huge loss of trade for High St businesses, and focus groups really aren't necessary to take the blindingly obvious decision that both cash meters and PayByPhone have a place in the palette of payment choices. Nor should it be about the money; parking is expected to make an annual surplus of £7m and so using some of that to provide cash parking meters, maintenance and cash collection is self funding.

Another thing that this report highlights is that officers evidently hadn't told the members of the Business Management Overview & Scrutiny Committee what they were up to which strikes Mr Mustard as completely wrong. (Mr Mustard didn't know either until mid-November).

Looking at paragraph 9.5 it seems that most of the project activity has already taken place. The report is silent on what has been learnt so far about cash meters. It would have been helpful if that had been included in this report.

Parking is one of the activities which most upsets residents and so councillors (who aren't part of the Cabinet) should be consulted as a matter of routine as the proposed policy affects every ward and it is only 139 days to the next Barnet Council elections. This meeting would be a good chance for the elector at large to take a look at some councillors in action (or inaction in some cases) and decide if you really want them representing you in the Town hall.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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