SOS our town centre is dying

Written by  Monday, 03 November 2014 00:00
SOS our town centre is dying Photo: Martin Standley
The Barnet Society is launching a Save Our High Street appeal: our town centre desperately needs more shoppers and we hope local businesses and other organisations, as well as local residents will join our campaign.

Support our campaign for an hours free parking.

Barnet Council have to be made to realise that their expensive, extensive and inordinately complicated parking regime requiring motorists to pay by telephone and/or credit card is driving away visitors and potential shoppers.

Unless the council can be persuaded to take drastic action to ease parking controls along the High Street and all its car parks in the area, yet more shops and businesses will go under in the tsunami of closures that is sweeping across the shopping centres of Britain.

We believe the time has come for the local council to recognise the plight of traders and to make a dramatic and constructive gesture on their behalf.

In order to compete on a level playing field with other nearby shopping centres that have few if any parking restrictions, the High Street and Barnet Council’s car parks in High Barnet should offer an hour’s free parking every weekday and Saturday.

An hour’s free parking is the very least that Barnet Council can offer our beleaguered town centre – and it could easily be in operation in time for pre-Christmas shopping.

The hour’s free parking could be introduced with minimal disruption: all that would be required is a clear sign on lampposts along the High Street notifying motorists of the free parking period, and that where meters operate they will issue a ticket for a free sixty-minute period and that where there is only parking by phone there is no need to register for the free hour.

There are over sixty parking spaces along the entire length of the High Street, from High Barnet tube station to the start of Hadley Green, and a considerable number of spaces in the council’s Stapylton Road, Moxon Street and Fitzjohn Avenue car parks.  

If they offered free parking for an hour, as does the High Road at Whetstone for example, our shopping centre might have a chance and start to win back lost customers.

Barnet Council’s two concessions in response to the groundswell of anger over the imposition of parking by phone or credit card parking have had little or no effect on the rapid fall-off in High Street shoppers.

Parking enforcement officer tells a motorist the meter in Moxon Street car park prints a ticket for an hour’s free parkingParking enforcement officer tells a motorist the meter in Moxon Street car park prints a ticket for an hour’s free parkingFree parking for an hour in the Moxon Street car park is welcome but Moxon Street is the least accessible of the council’s three town centre car parks.

However, we contend this concession strengthens the Barnet Society’s campaign: if the credit card machine can issue a ticket for an hour’s free parking in Moxon Street, there is no reason why this relaxation should not be extended to the entire length of the High Street, and the rest of the council’s own car parks.

The same argument applies with regard to the council’s second concession of up to two hours’ free parking along the main road beside Hadley Green where motorists are told that there is no need to register by phone for the free period.

Again if parking enforcement officers are capable of monitoring limited free parking beside Hadley Green, it could easily apply to other parking bays where motorists have no other option but to register by phone.

It is little wonder that so few motorists are aware of the Hadley Green free parking. 

A 6ft tall pedestrian has difficulty reading the sign placed 7ft highA 6ft tall pedestrian has difficulty reading the sign placed 7ft highSigns have been fixed seven feet high and to add insult to injury face towards the pavement rather than the road and are in very small lettering, making it virtually impossible for motorists to spot them, let alone read.  

For many Barnet residents and visitors attempting to park in the Moxon Street car park is not for the faint hearted.  

Motorists turning right into Moxon Street or Park Road have to turn across the flow of traffic in the High Street. Motorists seeking to re-enter the High Street usually face considerable traffic congestion; buses are often queuing at the bus stops near the Park Road junction and cars trying to turn out of Moxon Street often find the High Street blocked by cars tailing back from the traffic lights at the Wood Street junction, and if turning right face the hazard of a blind corner to the left.

New signs would need to be at eye level, facing both the road and the pavement, and in much larger print so as to reassure motorists they could obtain a ticket for a free period or alternatively would not need to register by phone.

The sad state of the High Street only serves to underline the Barnet Society’s SOS and the need for dramatic action: a growing number of vacant premises and yet more charity shops.

 

THE TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW

 

 

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11 comments

  • Comment Link Saturday, 01 November 2014 12:23 posted by Hopscotch

    Our customers find Moxon Street car park very useful and the free parking has made a considerable difference to our business.

    I have asked the council to re-paint the keep clear markings at Park Road as it is indeed a problem that causes a tail-back while you wait your turn.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:39 posted by lisa

    I live in High Barnet and totally agree, the spires brought down their cost and then increased almost immediately. There should be a 1hr free parking as is in Potters Bar.

    I have a shop in east barnet road which is equally decreasing our trade due to lack of parking. the car parks are only pay by phone which discourages people to use, a 1 hr free parking on the high road would help the sweet shop next door as people could pop in and would also help my business as vans could pop in for a takeaway coffee. The nearby car parks are always empty unless it's after 5pm which by then most shops are closed.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 November 2014 18:49 posted by Mahin Zadeh

    The problem High st Barnet and many other high st/broadway have is not solely parking fees. it is the high rate small businesses have to pay, which is based on the unfair competition with may chains who run business in the same roads. unfortunately our government is not supporting the small businesses...

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 November 2014 18:50 posted by Benjamin Cosmos

    Every time I stay at my mate's house in Barnet, I try and stop at the shops on the way home to buy snacks and lunch for the journey. I've never been able to park my van anywhere so I always end up driving through and buying food on the motorway. Council WAKE UP

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 November 2014 18:51 posted by Tracy Baxter

    I have to say Barnet high street is certainly not what it was. It could do with an injection of tender loving care.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 November 2014 18:52 posted by Harry Purdy

    Kick the Tories out , would be a giant step in the right direction . Barnet Popular Front

  • Comment Link Saturday, 08 November 2014 17:37 posted by S. Snow

    Parking is obviously the main cause of High Barnet’s decline.
    The payment by phone system is off putting for many people and the recent increase in charges at the Spires, can only further discourage people from going there. It’s easier to go to Whetstone to shop at Waitrose at least they provide free parking. This must be a loss of trade for the Spires branch.
    It would certainly help if Barnet Council allowed an hour’s free parking but unfortunately I cannot see it happening as this issue has been raised several times previously.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 12 November 2014 09:52 posted by Valerie Green

    I have lived in Barnet area for over 25 years and very sad to see the decline of not only Barnet High Street shopping area but other areas in Barnet. It is such a hassle paying by phone that I know a lot of people who would shop in the High Street just go elsewhere where they can park for free

  • Comment Link Thursday, 13 November 2014 14:27 posted by Jacqui Jones

    I find it totally unacceptable that we have to use mobiles to pay for parking and there is no other option. What about contactless? Paying by phone is complicated and time consuming and that comes from someone who uses a mobile a lot. does anyone want to explain this system to my parents?!? If I am just popping out to get something now I usually drive to Borehamwood where it is free for 3 hours and has a good selection of retailers. Business there is thriving. I agree parking costs are too high and it should be 2/3 hours free parking not just 1 hour to encourage shoppers. Poor selection of shops putting of customers to the High Street too but feel the units in the Spires need to be larger (a second level in the Spires would help with this) to encourage well known stores, bring back Monsoon and Next!, as well as independent traders. NO more coffee shops/eateries please!!

  • Comment Link Thursday, 13 November 2014 14:29 posted by Peter Illingworth

    Paying a lot of money to visit and with few quality shops on offer why would anyone go there at present? The council should be able to disallow tacky plastic shop signage, and encourage quality independent shops rather than garish sell your old gold cheap outlets.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 13 November 2014 14:31 posted by Janice Blinder

    A free period for parking would be a greater incentive to shop for a few things. We are are finding the the Spires increasingly more expensive, so to be able to park in the centre of Barnet for a quick visit would be very welcome.

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