Traders at Finchley Market blame Barnet Council's pay-by-phone policy for quiet Christmas period

Janine Viner and Andrew Aarns are worried the market will close if the parking policy is not altered

Janine Viner and Andrew Aarns are worried the market will close if the parking policy is not altered

First published in News Times Series: Photograph of the Author by

Finchley Market is being “killed off” by Barnet Council’s pay-by-phone parking system according to stall holders desperate to halt the steady decline.

In the middle of what should be its busiest period, the weekly Friday market, held in the Lodge Lane car park, is suffering its worst trading conditions in years, say traders.

According to many stall holders, the decline began when Barnet Council introduced its pay-by-phone system more than a year ago.

They say customers simply “can’t be bothered” to sort out the pay-by-phone parking and find payment scratch cards impossible to pick up in local shops.

Joan Jarber, whose husband has run a glasses stall at the market for six years, said: “For the pre-Christmas months, this is very quiet – I’ve never known it so bad.

“The market is down to about two thirds of what it was two years ago and it is 100 per cent down to the parking situation.

“It is ruining our business – this is our livelihood. We should be picking up for Christmas and there is no-one here.”

The council’s new parking portfolio holder, Councillor Dean Cohen, carried out a lengthy consultation among traders over the summer to revise the parking policy in North Finchley.

Since taking over from Brian Coleman in May, Cllr Cohen has twice reduced charges and recently announced plans for credit card payment machines in the new year.

Cllr Cohen said recent changes to the parking policy, including two hours of free parking in the weekend before Christmas, should be enough to bring customers back and there are no plans to introduce further measures.

He said: “The new measures deal with the off-street on-street and market parking problems. The card metres are going into the car parks for people struggling with the pay-by-phone system or finding it hard to get scratch cards. All of the measures are for the benefit of the people shopping on the high street and in the market.”

But stall holders argue that customers are staying away due to a lack of a cash payment option – something the authority has ruled out reintroducing in cost grounds.

Andrew Aarns, who owns the pet stall in the market, met a council officer during the consultation to discuss trader suggestions, including bringing back cash payments and introducing a free parking period on market days.

He said: “They have totally ignored the basic problem. We have lost the elderly and the mums coming back from the school run.

“We have already lost four or five stalls in the last year and I can quite easily see that this market will die – it is slowly being killed off by this parking policy.”

Janine Viner, who has run the household goods stall for the past 28 years, fears that if nothing changes the market will close.

The 51-year-old said: “In the last year or so, since the pay-by-phone has come in, I’m down a quarter in takings.

“It is dead here – it should be buzzing with people at this time of year. It is depressing – we’re here at 6am and up at 4am and it is all for nothing.

“We’re only here once a week – they need to bring back the cash system.”

Comments (13)

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3:22pm Tue 4 Dec 12

NoToMob Member says...

It is the pay by phone system that will kill off this type of local business for sure. No doubt you will have a couple of Morons posting soon that will say it is all your fault and that you don't now how to run your own business.
It is the pay by phone system that will kill off this type of local business for sure. No doubt you will have a couple of Morons posting soon that will say it is all your fault and that you don't now how to run your own business. NoToMob Member
  • Score: 0

8:08pm Tue 4 Dec 12

harvey_uk says...

No doubt you get the narrow minded **** (NoToMob) who think that all people travel to the high street to buy their xmas goods by car on a Friday daytime. How about factoring in the cold weather, the economy, or most importantly the year on year increase in online shopping, but yes I do think that the Barnet high streets have suffered somewhat with the introduction of this cashless parking system (thank Brian Coleman who consulted nobody). Brian's replacement Dean Cohen give the sales pitch to get Coleman’s job, but when it came to the crunch he's also about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Remember these are really the elected morons when it's time to vote!
No doubt you get the narrow minded **** (NoToMob) who think that all people travel to the high street to buy their xmas goods by car on a Friday daytime. How about factoring in the cold weather, the economy, or most importantly the year on year increase in online shopping, but yes I do think that the Barnet high streets have suffered somewhat with the introduction of this cashless parking system (thank Brian Coleman who consulted nobody). Brian's replacement Dean Cohen give the sales pitch to get Coleman’s job, but when it came to the crunch he's also about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Remember these are really the elected morons when it's time to vote! harvey_uk
  • Score: 0

11:32pm Tue 4 Dec 12

james smyth says...

Thought it was the coffee shops causing the downfall now,thats according to someone call Micheal or is that taking the?
There is a bit of confusion in this report because it says "trade is down 2 thirds in the last 2 years,all down to the parking.
However this new system hasnt been in 2 years yet.
Therefore all the traders that have been shouting that the new scheme has descimated our trades have actually been telling little white lies because one trader has now admitted that for 2 years trade has been down!
Thought it was the coffee shops causing the downfall now,thats according to someone call Micheal or is that taking the? There is a bit of confusion in this report because it says "trade is down 2 thirds in the last 2 years,all down to the parking. However this new system hasnt been in 2 years yet. Therefore all the traders that have been shouting that the new scheme has descimated our trades have actually been telling little white lies because one trader has now admitted that for 2 years trade has been down! james smyth
  • Score: 0

11:46am Wed 5 Dec 12

Fireball says...

I want the Council to give every Barnet resident 30 min of free parking a day in all areas of Barnet. Sometimes I just want to pick up a coffee or sandwich or something small like envelopes. But the cost of parking puts me off and I end up just going somewhere with a free carpark. At the end of the day I don't want to waste money paying for parking when I can go somewhere with free parking and just not have the hassel of hunting down a space and the having to pay. This could be the last chance the Council has to save Barnet's high streets. If people are going to supermarkets or shopping centres because of parking issues, our high streets will become less attractive to good retailers and there will be less reason for people to go to them.It is just logic and common sense.
I want the Council to give every Barnet resident 30 min of free parking a day in all areas of Barnet. Sometimes I just want to pick up a coffee or sandwich or something small like envelopes. But the cost of parking puts me off and I end up just going somewhere with a free carpark. At the end of the day I don't want to waste money paying for parking when I can go somewhere with free parking and just not have the hassel of hunting down a space and the having to pay. This could be the last chance the Council has to save Barnet's high streets. If people are going to supermarkets or shopping centres because of parking issues, our high streets will become less attractive to good retailers and there will be less reason for people to go to them.It is just logic and common sense. Fireball
  • Score: 0

12:09pm Wed 5 Dec 12

james smyth says...

What a silly comment " I want the council to give every resident 30 mins of free parking a day in all areas of Barnet"
Could you please explain how that would be enforced ?
Yet another blinkered person who will admit to driving away from their local shops in order to save a £1 yet have spent more than that in petrol. Your proberly one of the same sort of people that wont use a garage because you have to pay for the air so drive 5 miles out of your way for the sake of 50p.
What the council has done to increase its revenue to pay for other things is no different to petrol stns charging for things which used to be free,but there is no hysteria about garages charging for air & water,is there?
Or shops charging for carrier bags?
By having to pay for parking actually helps the flows of trade as it prevents people leaving their cars for hours while they go to work etc.
What a silly comment " I want the council to give every resident 30 mins of free parking a day in all areas of Barnet" Could you please explain how that would be enforced ? Yet another blinkered person who will admit to driving away from their local shops in order to save a £1 yet have spent more than that in petrol. Your proberly one of the same sort of people that wont use a garage because you have to pay for the air so drive 5 miles out of your way for the sake of 50p. What the council has done to increase its revenue to pay for other things is no different to petrol stns charging for things which used to be free,but there is no hysteria about garages charging for air & water,is there? Or shops charging for carrier bags? By having to pay for parking actually helps the flows of trade as it prevents people leaving their cars for hours while they go to work etc. james smyth
  • Score: 0

11:05pm Wed 5 Dec 12

dawat6295 says...

I have no hidden agenda or axe to grind, so let's get that out of the way first!
I used to regularly park and shop in several parts of Barnet. I say used to, because I no longer do apart from the Spires and Brent Cross. The Spires because it has a coin machine car park and Brent Cross because parking is free.
I accept that I may be a Dinasaur for not liking pay by phone parking. But at the end of the day, its my money, my time and my choice as to where I shop.
So I for one know that I have been influenced by the Council decision to insist of paying by phone for parking. This isn't a theory I'm arguing about, but a statement of fact as far as I am concerned.
I don't know of how many other people who think like me, but I suspect that there must be quite a few if the traders are complaining so much.
I have no hidden agenda or axe to grind, so let's get that out of the way first! I used to regularly park and shop in several parts of Barnet. I say used to, because I no longer do apart from the Spires and Brent Cross. The Spires because it has a coin machine car park and Brent Cross because parking is free. I accept that I may be a Dinasaur for not liking pay by phone parking. But at the end of the day, its my money, my time and my choice as to where I shop. So I for one know that I have been influenced by the Council decision to insist of paying by phone for parking. This isn't a theory I'm arguing about, but a statement of fact as far as I am concerned. I don't know of how many other people who think like me, but I suspect that there must be quite a few if the traders are complaining so much. dawat6295
  • Score: 0

5:23pm Thu 6 Dec 12

Mr. Datchery says...

I posted this some time ago but I think it's worth repeating. I needed to go to a specialist shop in Kenton, Harrow. I found the shop and stopped the car whilst I tried to work out the parking situation. By chance I had stopped by a sign which seemed to say I could park for free anywhere on the main road from 09:30 to 16:00. This seemed so unlikely that I asked a minicab driver who was waiting nearby if this was so. He looked at me as if I was an idiot (who can blame him) but when I explained that I lived in Barnet, he was genuinely sympathetic and confirmed that I could park for free until 16:00. As far as I can establish on-line Harrow is able to do this while still deriving an income from parking well in excess of Barnet's. So can the usual miserable, constantly negative posters take note. Also,and I write as a previous Tory voter, Harrow has a Labour council...coincidenc
e?
I posted this some time ago but I think it's worth repeating. I needed to go to a specialist shop in Kenton, Harrow. I found the shop and stopped the car whilst I tried to work out the parking situation. By chance I had stopped by a sign which seemed to say I could park for free anywhere on the main road from 09:30 to 16:00. This seemed so unlikely that I asked a minicab driver who was waiting nearby if this was so. He looked at me as if I was an idiot (who can blame him) but when I explained that I lived in Barnet, he was genuinely sympathetic and confirmed that I could park for free until 16:00. As far as I can establish on-line Harrow is able to do this while still deriving an income from parking well in excess of Barnet's. So can the usual miserable, constantly negative posters take note. Also,and I write as a previous Tory voter, Harrow has a Labour council...coincidenc e? Mr. Datchery
  • Score: 0

2:23am Sat 8 Dec 12

Centre of the Road says...

Perhaps because nobody knows Finchley Market exists, or knows where it is, is why trade is down.
Perhaps because nobody knows Finchley Market exists, or knows where it is, is why trade is down. Centre of the Road
  • Score: 0

12:19pm Mon 10 Dec 12

dawat6295 says...

Centre of the Road, I'm sorry but reading you comment made little sense to me.
How can the situation you describe be accurate. People must have known where the market is to have gone there in the first place. How can people stop going to a market that they never knew existed? Did they all suddenly have amnesia?
Centre of the Road, I'm sorry but reading you comment made little sense to me. How can the situation you describe be accurate. People must have known where the market is to have gone there in the first place. How can people stop going to a market that they never knew existed? Did they all suddenly have amnesia? dawat6295
  • Score: 0

1:33pm Mon 10 Dec 12

F..kedupBarnet says...

No doubt that some do attend the market due to the parking issue but also because the wares they sell are not what people want anymore, I have been recently and found the market to be outdated and this also applies to Finchely and Barnet where I am unimpressed with the retail outlets in the area. This is why I do not attend these areas anymore and prefer to go elsewhere.
No doubt that some do attend the market due to the parking issue but also because the wares they sell are not what people want anymore, I have been recently and found the market to be outdated and this also applies to Finchely and Barnet where I am unimpressed with the retail outlets in the area. This is why I do not attend these areas anymore and prefer to go elsewhere. F..kedupBarnet
  • Score: 0

8:00pm Mon 10 Dec 12

Centre of the Road says...

dawat6295 wrote:
Centre of the Road, I'm sorry but reading you comment made little sense to me.
How can the situation you describe be accurate. People must have known where the market is to have gone there in the first place. How can people stop going to a market that they never knew existed? Did they all suddenly have amnesia?
dawat6295, I should have made it clearer, but what I meant to get across was that because people die, move areas, no longer find the traders or products to their liking etc., footfall decreases. If there is no way of increasing new customers to the site, then, of course, trade goes down because of a net loss of footfall.
[quote][p][bold]dawat6295[/bold] wrote: Centre of the Road, I'm sorry but reading you comment made little sense to me. How can the situation you describe be accurate. People must have known where the market is to have gone there in the first place. How can people stop going to a market that they never knew existed? Did they all suddenly have amnesia?[/p][/quote]dawat6295, I should have made it clearer, but what I meant to get across was that because people die, move areas, no longer find the traders or products to their liking etc., footfall decreases. If there is no way of increasing new customers to the site, then, of course, trade goes down because of a net loss of footfall. Centre of the Road
  • Score: 0

1:28am Tue 11 Dec 12

Cadwallader says...

Tried to register with these parking people recently. 15 minute call before my phone packed up because the credit was gone. During which time my Dad, who has trouble getting about walked several hundred yards to find me. I was supposed to collect him outside the shop I left him in when I went to park.

Called to complain and was told it wasn't their fault I didn't have enough credit on my phone! I told them that whenever I see their number over a parking space, I will drive to the next town to avoid dealing with them.

Brian Coleman didn't want to deal with them, even after he had all the cash-payment machines ripped out specifically to prevent their being redeployed when this nightmare of a scheme turned turtle. He was parking illegally to avoid it all when he got into his little spot of bother.

The dumb insistence of the council on refusing to see that the transaction, rather than the amount, is what is strangling retail in Barnet, can be seen by their repeated, triumphant (and ineffective) price cuts and amnesties.

It's not the cost of the space (though it was too high) it's the dire nature of the registration and booking process. It's fundamentally unworkable, and people's businesses and livelihoods have been lost, with no recourse to compensation.

This is an example of wilful municipal incompetence coupled with indifferent commercial incompetence, to produce a model of what we can expect across the board in Barnet, when they roll out their privatization scheme. For which the parking system was a prototype.
Tried to register with these parking people recently. 15 minute call before my phone packed up because the credit was gone. During which time my Dad, who has trouble getting about walked several hundred yards to find me. I was supposed to collect him outside the shop I left him in when I went to park. Called to complain and was told it wasn't their fault I didn't have enough credit on my phone! I told them that whenever I see their number over a parking space, I will drive to the next town to avoid dealing with them. Brian Coleman didn't want to deal with them, even after he had all the cash-payment machines ripped out specifically to prevent their being redeployed when this nightmare of a scheme turned turtle. He was parking illegally to avoid it all when he got into his little spot of bother. The dumb insistence of the council on refusing to see that the transaction, rather than the amount, is what is strangling retail in Barnet, can be seen by their repeated, triumphant (and ineffective) price cuts and amnesties. It's not the cost of the space (though it was too high) it's the dire nature of the registration and booking process. It's fundamentally unworkable, and people's businesses and livelihoods have been lost, with no recourse to compensation. This is an example of wilful municipal incompetence coupled with indifferent commercial incompetence, to produce a model of what we can expect across the board in Barnet, when they roll out their privatization scheme. For which the parking system was a prototype. Cadwallader
  • Score: 0

2:28pm Tue 11 Dec 12

Rog T says...

James Smythe,
As you are the master of stupid comments, you really should lay off trolling other people who are simply trying to express an opinion.

If you are going to call people stupid, you really should check your spelling (probably). Otherwise people will probably conclude you are a ****
James Smythe, As you are the master of stupid comments, you really should lay off trolling other people who are simply trying to express an opinion. If you are going to call people stupid, you really should check your spelling (probably). Otherwise people will probably conclude you are a **** Rog T
  • Score: 0

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