Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Coleman's catastrophic parking policy: how much more will it take?

Follow my leader can be a dangerous game, Tory councillors of Broken Barnet

An open letter to Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council, and all Barnet Councillors

Dear Leader and Barnet Councillors,

On 20th March a document was placed upon the Barnet Council website entitled - Bittacy Hill -Introduction of Waiting Restrictions (http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=11110).

This document details the mayhem caused by the abolition of free bays in Controlled Parking Zones as part of Councillor Brian Coleman’s parking policies. It details how the Barnet Police have had their time wasted, congestion has been caused, buses have been delayed, residents inconvenienced, and people’s safety has been endangered. In short, it is the most damning indictment of a Council policy possible. The background information section of this document says:


8.1 In June 2011 the Council completed a scheme whereby all ‘Free’ parking bays were converted to permit holder or paid for parking bays in the borough’s Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs). As a result of the changes made to the Mill Hill East CPZ, a proportionate level of displaced parking is occurring on both sides of Bittacy Hill on the outskirts of the CPZ boundary.

8.2 The council has been contacted by roads users and local residents, complaining of the congestion being caused as through vehicles are being obstructed by the displaced parking.

8.3 London Buses have reported to the council that the displaced parking is obscuring sightlines and obstructing through traffic, preventing their buses from gaining suitable access through the road, resulting in the delay of their services. They also stated that this situation has caused major congestion in both directions on Bittacy Hill and therefore, have had to temporarily put some of their buses on diversion.

8.4 In addition, the Police have also expressed concerns regarding this location, and have requested for waiting restrictions to be introduced.

8.5 Following investigations including site observations, Officers concluded that major congestion occurs on the hill at this location, and in order to keep traffic moving through the borough considered that the provision of waiting restrictions would be appropriate given the obstructive parking which is taking place.

8.6 Therefore, proposals to introduce lengths of ‘at any time’ waiting restrictions on certain lengths of Bittacy Hill including around its junctions with Bittacy Close and Engle Park, were designed in order to deter obstructive parking and improve traffic flow, sightlines and safety.

8.7 In anticipation of the statutory consultation, Mill Hill Ward Members were consulted on the proposals with all advising of their agreement and support of the measures for the area. In particular, Councillors Khatri and Hart stated that they had also received complaints on this matter or have experienced problems themselves. Councillor Hart did raise the issue that more restrictions may cause more problems to the wider area as did Councillor Schama.

8.8 However, Officers consider that any displaced parking that may occur as a result of the introduction of the restrictions can be absorbed into the local network with minimal impact.

8.9 In mid August it was necessary to introduce emergency temporary waiting restrictions on the eastern side of Bittacy Hill, as nearby Devonshire Road was closed to allow for essential maintenance works to take place, which resulted in an increased traffic flow on Bittacy Hill that exasperated the problems occurring at the location.

8.9 Traffic cones were placed on street to indicate the temporary waiting restrictions, and the location was monitored by Officers. Observations showed that displaced parking was minimal and what did occur had little impact on the area. It was concluded that the removal of the parked vehicles at this location was very effective in relieving the congestion normally experienced.

8.10 Additional supporting evidence underlining the concern via photographs showing buses being obstructed and the congestion experienced were sent to the council and a petition signed by all residents of Bittacy Close was also submitted, asking for waiting restrictions to be implemented at the junction of Bittacy Close and Bittacy Hill.

8.14 Councillor Khatri and Councillor Hart have since also reaffirmed their views and support for the proposals. In particular, they advised of their concerns regarding safety being an issue at this location. Councillor Hart also re-iterated his concerns for residents of Bittacy Close, who suffer from obstruction at the junction of Bittacy Close and Bittacy Hill.

Councillor Brian Coleman ignored all wise counsel in order to introduce these policies. He ignored all efforts to mitigate the problems caused. As a result, we have a situation where ever more parking restrictions will be required to fix a problem that did not previously exist. To what end? To inconvenience and overcharge local residents.

It is time for Barnet Council to have an urgent rethink. It is time to reinstate free bays, cut parking charges on Barnet’s high streets, and, most of all, it is time to put someone in charge of parking who is competent.

There is no way that Barnet Council can pretend that Coleman’s parking policies are anything other than an unmitigated disaster. Your own document says so in black and white.


Derek Dishman
John Dix
Vicki Morris
Theresa Musgrove
Roger Tichborne

Mrs Angry comments:

This is just one example of the devastating impact that Brian Coleman's lunatic parking scheme is having on the lives of residents in our borough. In this case, he has determined on a course of action in face of opposition from residents, the police, London Buses, and even his own fellow Tory councillors. Nothing will induce him to change his position - to Brian Coleman the overriding factor in such situations is that his decisions and authority must never be seen to be undermined, no matter the cost to others, or the damage even to his own credibility as a politician.

Coleman is the Cabinet Member with responsibility for parking: the Cabinet, in theory at least, is guided by the leadership of Councillor Richard Cornelius. Since his election as Leader, Cornelius has distinguished himself by showing absolutely no leadership whatsoever, and allowing Coleman to continue unrestrained with the promotion of his profiteering policies. One explanation for this might be that the Barnet Tories are standing back and allowing Coleman to destroy his own chances of re election to the London Assembly, and deliver the fatal blow to his career - but that would appear to be clever for the collection of knaves, dopes and holy innocents that is the Barnet Tory group, and such a course of action has seriously compromised the electability of many of the present councillors too. Cornelius has a choice: act now to try to repair the damage done by these idiotic policy decisions, or take a gamble on the limited life expectancy of Brian Coleman's political life. Which will it be?

Here is a video made by the admirable Helen Michael, owner of 'Cafe Buzz' and spokeswoman for traders in North Finchley, about the effect that Coleman's cashless parking scheme has had on her business, and the town centre as a whole. Helen explains that she has - until now - been a Tory voter. Richard Cornelius may not feel entirely comfortable watching this film. Oh, and there is an amusing end to the clip.


Anonymous said...

We diversified into a specialist area when footfall disappeared from Barnet High St. We thought by becoming a destination shop was the way forward.

How wrong we were! Cashless parking killed off our growing customer base overnight.

We have just been told that the last remaining machine in Moxon Street Car Park has been pulled out of the ground to join the others in the Mill Hill graveyard. As one had been removed some days ago, leaving the other, we saw a chink of hope. I've never felt ill of anyone in my life until now. If Coleman were to be run over by his taxi outside our shop I would dance a merry jig!

Sadly, we too are looking at relocating. And yes, will not be voting Tory.

Mrs Angry said...

Hello Anon: I am really sorry to hear about the impact on your business. It genuinely does perplex me to see a Tory council not only implement such an obviously trade killing parking scheme, but then to refuse to admit they got it wrong & withdraw it. The only hope is that Boris puts pressure on them to make some sort of change just before election day, which would not entirely surprise me. If I were a shopkeeper in Barnet, I would campaign for a boycott of all Tory councillors in any local shop. But then they probably don't shop locally, do they?

baarnett said...

No, but their butlers do.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen any of them in High Barnet - including the ward councillors, except Longstaff who came in a couple of times before the parking issues kicked off.

In one of Cornelius's replies to my emails he even claimed 'I have been unable to park on the street for a couple of weeks on a Saturday afternoon', presumably driving off without attempting to use one of the half empty car parks.

Mrs Angry said...

Well, if any did turn up in my shop I would simply refuse to serve them. I think it will be interesting to see whether pressure from elsewhere obliges the Tories here to announce some sort of reversal or review, just in time for the elections ...

killerheels said...

Another not well known fact is that Barnet turn down permit requests from van owners. The rules - introduced by Brian Coleman (!) state that a van not over 2.3m HIGH can park in a controlled zone but over that can't. So any Sprinter or such like is banned from parking there?! What difference does the hight of a vehicle make? Surely the length is more critical as this will take up more space.......