*Update 5pm Friday, see below: oh, and guess which councillor is reported to have put the phone down on a local journalist when asked about this issue?
Here is a joint statement from Barnet's bloggers:
Brian Coleman abolishes pay and display parking in Barnet – bloggers call for Cabinet call-in and consultation
It has been brought to our attention that Councillor Brian Coleman has signed off, using delegated powers, a decision abolishing pay and display parking in the London Borough of Barnet. We believe that this is much too important an issue to be left to just one councillor to use delegated powers, and we call for the cabinet to call the paper in for review by the full cabinet.
The relevant report states that call-in must be done by 15th August. [http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=10559]
The people of Barnet deserve better than to have such important decisions passed without debate. This change affects many residents, businesses and visitors to the Borough. We call on the cabinet to reject this change and follow the example of other Boroughs, where residents, businesses and other impacted organisations are properly consulted, before such changes are approved.
12 August 2011
Mrs Angry comments:
A few days ago, when no doubt he thought no one would be looking, (forgetting about the Barnet bloggers, who never sleep, and take shifts to maintain a constant vigil of council activities), Councillor Brian Coleman signed off a delegated powers report which is set to have huge repercussions for many residents in this borough.
Yes, we're talking about parking charges again - highway robbery, Broken Barnet style: the issue above all issues which is guaranteed to bring about a riot of civil disorder amongst the Hampstead Garden Suburbanistas, and residents ofall the 'nicer' parts of Broken Barnet.
You can shut all the childrens' centres you like, and remove all the wardens from sheltered housing, and sell off all our museums: ok - there will be a fair degree of middle class grumbling: threaten our libraries, and there is big trouble. Mess with the parking arrangements, though, and all hell breaks loose.
Mrs Angry understands that senior Tories at Westminster, if they think about him at all, have a less than respectful view of the antics of Councillor Coleman. Sadly, because of this tragic failure to impress his parliamentary colleagues, Brian's glorious political career will never take him beyond the plateau on which he currently languishes. Their gain is our loss, of course. Come next May, however, he may well find himself moving in a rolypoly direction up to and over the edge of the plateau and whoops, right over the side, tumbling down the craggy mountain into the valley of oblivion. What a shame.
The truth is that he simply lacks the emotional and political intelligence to sustain a more ambitious career. Seeing a long term objective, and having the self discipline to follow a strategic course towards it is a quality that he lacks, or at least he finds impossible to sustain, being fatally prone to major errors of political judgement, as the events of the last year's administration here have shown. The headline grabbing idiocies of the Barnet Tories has been one open, running sore on the body of the Conservative party: it's no wonder Eric Pickles decided to publicly humiliate his own Barnet councillors over the MetPro affair, and praise the Barnet bloggers - and yet still they don't get it, do they? They carry on, regardless.
In order to make a quick buck for the money pit that is One Barnet, Coleman has determinedly pursued the exploitation of parking revenue, forcing in a range of whopping new charges, removing free bays, and now foisting a new payment system on those of us foolish enough to want to park our cars. These changes have infuriated residents all over the borough, but most crucially, and most stupidly from his own point of view, they have alienated vast swathes of hardcore Tory voters, already antagonised by the equally ill judged fiasco of the councillors' pay rise saga, the repression of debate at Residents' Forums, the nonsensical attempt to bar filming at council meetings - and horrified by the depth of corporate incompetence revealed by the MetPro scandal. Practically everything this collection of congenital eejits does further sinks their chances of re election into the quagmire, but some Tory councillors seem to have a political death wish, and are carrying on struggling while they sink under.
Because what does Brian do next? Of course he realises that he has enraged the voters of Garden Suburb, and Golders Green, and East Finchley, and indeed all over the borough: but he cannot retract his parking plans: to him that would be a sign of weakness - so they must proceed regardless of the electoral fall out. This week, therefore, while lots of you are on holiday and far far away from the tyranny of life in Broken Barnet, Coleman has sneakily signed the order to remove all pay and display machines from the borough.
If you want to park anywhere in Barnet now, you need a phone, and a credit card. It's like Westminster, except, because we have no brains in the Broken Barnet Cabinet, we are out Westminstering Westminster. In our borough, for example, you will not have the option, as they do in town, of using a card at a machine or using prepaid scratch cards.
In our borough, you will do as you are told and remember that the point of parking charges is not to rationalise parking, in a way that will be to the greater benefit of the residents and tax payers, but to generate income for a council that is happy to throw away millions of pounds of our money in Iceland, and in countless wasteful overspends, but will make us pay for their profligacy, all over again, one way or another.
In our borough, anyone who is elderly, without a mobile phone, or without a credit card does not count, and has effectively excluded themselves from the right to drive or park. If you are foolish enough to have English as a second language, that's your fault. If you are disabled, either make sure your disability is bad enough to get a permit, or stay at home. Alternatively, to make sure you will be able to park anywhere you like, at no charge whatsoever, become a Tory councillor, or, if you can bring yourself to, marry one, and make full use of their free permit. Or take a taxi everywhere at our expense. Even better, become the Mayor, and nip down to Sainsbury's in the limo.
Oh but surely, Mrs Angry, you may be thinking, the London Borough of Broken Barnet has considered the effect on residents, before proceeding with such a radical policy? Oh yes, citizens, they have: Mrs Angry urges you to look at the report yourself on the council's website. and read the following, astonishing conclusions of the Equalities Impact Assessment.
In point 1c we are told that (my emphasis in bold):
"The only age group envisaged to be affected by the project are the elderly as it is considered they are less likely to be accustomed to utilising a mobile phone in the methods necessary to pay for their parking sessions by phone.
It is considered that technology could also discriminate against the infirm and disabled.
In addition, customers who do not speak English as their first language may feel discriminated against if they are unable to understand the instructions corresponding to the cashless payments.
It is considered that the removal of pay and display machines across the borough would have a significant impact on certain sectors of the community who, due to their personal circumstances , may not be able, or be comfortable using the pay by phone technology."
So: the elderly - a huge section of the residents of Barnet - will be affected, the infirm and disabled are potentially facing discrimination, non English speaking users too, and in conclusion the removal of the pay and display machines would have a significant impact on certain sectors of the community.
In addition the report notes the potential impact on the visiting of 'local amenities' ie shops and businesses, and warns of the increased vulnerability of residents having to use mobiles in public places.
Despite the clear warnings of this report, the changes are going ahead. Why? Because of the contempt which this Tory council has for the process of consultation, and for any need to consider the impact of its stupid policy decisions on the community it is supposed to serve.
Oh, there is an action plan which is meant to address shortcomings of the plans. Er, well, no, it doesn't address the huge glaringly obvious risk of discrimination in the case of vast sections of the community, all it does is tell us that 'customers' will be able to make payments on a 'walk up basis' at some pay points at a few 'selected convenience stores'. So any whinging old folk, disabled residents, non English speaking users or those without a phone- you will have to get up off your lazy, disadvantaged backsides and wander about the shops a bit looking for these places, hoping that a traffic warden doesn't fine you in the meanwhile.
Not happy about this, you ungrateful voters? Wait til the next election then, and remember who was responsible for this cock up. Alternatively you may wish to contact Councillor Coleman and express your opinion by email, firstname.lastname@example.org , by phone, or in person at his surgery.
*Update, according to the local Times website:
"Both Labour and Lib Dem councillors have now “called in” the decision, forcing it to go before a scrutiny committee, on September 5.
Councillor Kath McGuirk, Labour’s transport spokesman, said: “I think residents will be outraged to be brutally honest.
“The way they’ve been totally ignored on parking charges. This is the straw that breaks the camels back. They are just being used as a cash cow.”