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Barnet, Parking and Brian Coleman – get the facts!

Barnet, Parking and Brian Coleman – get the facts!

Barnet CPZ facts

Click the image above to enlarge. Right-click and ‘save as’ to save or get the high-quality PDF file.

UPDATE

Can you spare time on Monday 14 February?

Tory Barnet council will hold a budget meeting on Monday 14 February 2011 at 7 pm in Hendon Town Hall (Address/Map: the Burroughs, Hendon NW4 4BG). There will be a bunch of us there, making a noise so please come along and show your support if you can! I suggest getting there between 6 and 6.30pm to make sure you get seen as the councillors arrive.

DEPRESSING UPDATE

It seems our elected Councillor, Brian Coleman has done what we all feared, gone ahead with the CPZ price increases!

Read a gritty account of the meeting here. You’ll realise what were up against and why we are constantly ignored by the Conservative run Barnet council. Very sad day for democracy. Especially when Cameron made a point today of saying the people have a voice and a part to play in the “big society” and that government bureaucracy isn’t the way forward. As usual, hot air and broken promises. I’m not usually into politics but this makes me really cross… Ok, rant over. Now logging on to EBay to sell my kids toys to pay for Brian Coleman’s bonus/mistakes/greed, oh, I mean the budget deficit…

Short of time?
PLEASE SIGN THIS ONLINE PETITION

Got 5 minutes? Read on…

I live in a great part of London called East Finchley. For those that live there, it’s a hidden gem. A secret ‘Dad’s Army’ land where people still talk over the garden fence. We have street parties twice a year, I know all of my neighbours (and most of my street) by their first names and we look after each-others’ cats when they’re on holiday. We even have a tube station, an independent cinema and we’re lucky enough to NOT have a McDonalds.

I love East Finchley a lot. Many people do and we’re passionate about keeping it a nice place to live, bring up children and grow old gracefully. We’re an easy going bunch but when something pisses us off, we know how to fight. Our local mascot ‘Archie‘ the Archer would be proud of us. We’ve kept our high street local by seeing off Waitrose, saved local parks, fought crazy planning applications, stopped commuter rat-runs and had pedestrian crossings installed. We’ve even changed the borough boundary.

There is one subject however, that most of us dread. The three letters; ‘C P Z’ or Controlled Parking Zone. It started out ok. A large college was opening up down the road and commuters were parking in local roads to jump on the tube and go to work. Ten years ago, parking was a bit of an issue. So the council put in a CPZ for residents. The rules were simple:

  • Enforce the parking only on work days. Leave the weekends for socialising and shopping
  • Charge residents just enough to run the scheme.
  • Enforce the CPZ for an hour during the day to dissuade ‘all day’ parking but allow residents to have visitors pop by
  • If you did have a visitor during the CPZ, issue them with a visitor voucher at a nominal cost (40p)

All was well. The commuters went somewhere else. We could park again. this was especially relieving for those with young families or the elderly.

The Barnet Council started to get greedy. They saw the potential of the CPZ as an income stream. They rocked up one day and changed the signs from a 1 hour enforceable period to 8.5 hours, from 10am to 6.30 at night. Oh, and all day Saturday too. We weren’t consulted and it started to dawn on us how draconian this was. Sure, it worked for some but for many it didn’t.

Some years later, Barnet agreed to run a consultation on potentially changing the times. The questionnaire was laughable in its bias and sneaky in the way it asked questions so that the results could be manipulated. As we all expected, the whitewashed results came out, but it was also clear residents didn’t like the scheme but Barnet ticked a box – “consultation done… tick” – and carried on.

The price of residents’ permits rose. Visitor permits more than doubled in price. Yet Barnet council ran the scheme so badly, they made a huge loss. And we’re talking millions.

So now the latest jab in the eye. Barnet, or more specifically, Conservative Councillor Brian Coleman (or Mr Toad as he is trending on Twitter) has decided to go for broke. Don’t know Brian Coleman? Maybe you do… [fireman][campaign][expenses][google]. It’s his last year in office I believe, budgets are tight and the spreadsheet looks horrific. All under his watch. The £3 million transport budget has a £1.4 million (50%) hole in it and guess where the money comes from… Yep, the endless, faceless, deep-pockets of those CPZ residents. But here’s the catch. Only about 20% of Barnet has a CPZ scheme and even then, only 5% have the ‘all-day’ version we have. The other 80% can just park outside their house for free or are wealthy enough to have a large house with off-street parking. Did you spot the catch? 20% of us are paying that £1.4 million – the other 80% pay nothing. We’re paying for ALL of Barnet’s roads to be maintained. And yes, we’ve already paid our road tax, petrol duty and our council tax, not to mention income tax which pays for our council’s budgets in the first place.

So what? Same old same old I guess. Keep paying the same old costs. Not quite. That debt needs filling, not only to make Councillor Coleman look less incompetent but also so that the numbers look good so that it’s attractive to the private sector. Yes, he’s planning to privatise the parking service in the near future. Nice touch. We all love private parking enforcement officers. So here’s the genius. Simply fiddle with the numbers until the numbers say what they need to. So what if a resident’s parking permit was £40… make it £100. Those expensive £1 visitors permits… make those £4 each. That 3 month temporary permit at £37… make that £250. Oh, and don’t tell anyone. Just keep it to yourselves and put it on the agenda to rubber-stamp at the next meeting. Only we found out…

The full details of the proposed changes are set out in a PDF document located on Barnet’s web site. See pages 9 and 10 for the CPZ charges, and pages 12 and 13 for the Pay and Display charges.

So last week, we got together in an-impromptu East Finchley action group. With local lawyers, business people, concerned residents and anyone with the passion to stand up to Barnet and say enough is enough! We’ve already drafted and served a legal challenge. We’ve drummed up press support (which is available in spades) and started getting the word out. The above ‘fun facts’ infographic does a great job of getting some of the more pithy soundbites across.

Please feel free to grab the Parking Facts image above and post it on your blog, print it out, post it to Councillor Coleman, post a comment below, shout on Facebook, do anything… just share it! As this great site exclaims, Brian Coleman has to go!

We have until the 14th February 2011 to object to these proposals so one easy way to show you’re support is to…

** SIGN THIS ONLINE PETITION **

Let’s fight this thing! Grrr! #cough# Grrr!

15 comments

  • I’d like to support this campaign, in word deed & a few ££££’s if necesary.
    I live in N3 3PD
    How can I help?

  • I agree with all of the above. The councillors, they like to milk us dry and theyhave found a way to take our hard earned money to do it, while they are paying themselves higher wages. They have no idea how the old and infirm are going to find the money to pay those charges.Then they want us to join the Big Society. Very ironic!!!!!!!!!!

  • I can’t make tonight at the White Lion, but I do have to congratulate you and the team for researching and making such a strong case against the proposed (and quite disgraceful) CPZ increases. I have e-mailed my contribution to Barnet and await (with some trepidation) the eventual outcome.
    DS

  • Thanks Steve, there’s a meeting tonight where the councillors decide (hopefully) on the CPZ changes. All a bit short notice as, quite frankly they didn’t really consult anyone. Have updated the blog with details of the meeting tonight. Depending on the outcome, we’ll know where the campaign needs to go next…

  • Great post. I live in East Finchley and your well argued points about how unfair these proposed changes are in the context of the whole borough are absolutely bang on. I couldn’t see any link to details about the action group as I would really like to get involved. Could you post some more details about how to get in touch. Many thanks for highlighting this in such a clear and witty way.

  • It’s amazing to see how this has got people riled, and damn right too. I didn;t really know much about Coleman but those links say it all. What a Toad!!! And thanks for sharing the image. Where did it come from?

  • Well said. And its to your credit that your present the case with such humour given the way we are being treated.

    Welcome to Barnet’s 2 tier council tax (particularly high in East Finchley)