25 July 2014

Comment (a speech)

Last night at the Environment Committee the vexed question of parking policy was on the agenda. Members of the public can comment (making a speech really) for up to 3 minutes and I think that technically you are addressing the chairman but of course the whole room can hear your views. Mr Mustard nearly ran out of time because the officer on the left of the chairman Dean Cohen kept whispering in his ear, presumably something like "Mr Mustard is completely wrong, of course we don't revenue raise"). Mr Mustard's strategy for dealing with this is to stop speaking until the chairman and the officer stop speaking to each other, give him their full attention again, and then he quietly carries on. It does slightly disturb the rhythm of his delivery and so here, for the benefit of those who didn't listen attentively is the full text of what he said (Mr Mustard gave a printed copy to the governance officer after he had spoken as he thinks they have to record the gist of his comments - he will follow this helpful practice from now on)

The council's reputation is largely founded on collecting dustbins, cleaning streets and parking enforcement.

The reputation for parking probably couldn't get much lower.

The reason for this is that, whatever the council might say to the contrary, the council is revenue raising from the issue of PCN. The proof comes in paragraph 5.2.2 of the response to Alan's (Councillor Schneiderman) member's item which shows that a reduction in parking income would have an impact on projects or that funding for them would have to come from the general fund which is of course what the general fund is for.

I sat through the judicial review on parking permit pricing and the judge rejected the argument that prices could be increased to plug a hole in the budget. The council needs to wean itself off any reliance on parking income and should treat it as a useful bonus in the year after a surplus has been generated.

The other reason why we know that the projected annual surplus on the Special Parking Account is actually a target, although not in name, is that if there is the slightest danger that the projected surplus will be missed, a parking improvement plan gets put in place to make sure that the projected surplus is achieved.

As soon as the council starts to concern itself by the effect on the budgets of other services of policy decisions then you are using parking income as a revenue raising measure.

Please stop.

Now councillors it is you who decide policy, not officers. They have given you a suggested parking policy, and that is all it is, a suggestion. I have already had a good go at it by submitting 30 questions to make the council reflect if it is going the best way about things.

So if you want:

10 minutes grace after paid for parking and on single yellow lines and 5 minutes for everything else except for terrible naughtiness such as parking on pedestrian crossing zig zags

a PCN to be cancelled if the wrong location gets used

a PCN to be cancelled if the wrong vehicle registration gets used

a PCN for a blue badge holder to be cancelled once they show they hold a valid blue badge

then say so today and take a vote on it.

If you don't want:

spy cars & parking sensors

enforcement on bank holidays

bailiffs sent after pensioners and the disabled
traffic wardens parked illegally

then make those policies today and improve the reputation of the council and make Barnet a better place for its residents.

There is a public consultation coming on 1 August so get your thinking caps on as to what you think the parking regime should look like. You can be as radical as you like.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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