Barnet Council refunded £9,000 to confused drivers during free Christmas parking period

Councillor Cohen dismissed calls from the Labour group to introduce a wider free parking period in the run up to Christmas

Councillor Cohen dismissed calls from the Labour group to introduce a wider free parking period in the run up to Christmas

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

Barnet Council has refunded thousands of drivers who paid £9,000 during a 'free' parking period over Christmas.

Figures published today show 5,200 people paid to park their car during a "poorly advertised" relief period on December 22.

Drivers parted with the cash during the council initiative, intended to boost trade for businesses in the borough.

Barnet Council failed to put notices up in car parks or on off-street signs under the scheme, which was was today labelled a failure by opposition councillors.

The authority revealed the extent of driver's confusion in a written response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by local blogger John Dix.

In total, 1,043 people paid for parking in off-street locations, while 4,186 made pay-by-phone payments in the council’s car parks.

The authority estimated the value of the transactions at £9,000 but revealed today it has already refunded drivers.

Parking portfolio holder Councillor Dean Cohen had offered drivers the chance to park for two hours free of charge on December 22 to encourage shoppers to the borough’s high streets.

But while the council said notices were placed on its website and in the local press, as well as posters in shops, critics say it was not made clear to drivers that they did not need to pay.

Councillor Cohen dismissed calls from the Labour group to introduce a wider free parking period in the run-up to Christmas before proposing his own two-hour relief scheme.

Labour group leader Alison Moore said: “I’m absolutely outraged. To be so dismissive of the Labour group’s suggestions and then not even advertise their own scheme makes a mockery of the whole thing.

“It just shows how badly thought through and executed this was – the cabinet members should be ashamed of themselves.”

Councillor Cohen said he felt the scheme was a success, despite the number of people that paid.

He said: "I was made aware on the day that some people had paid and I immediately instructed them to be refunded.

"We did put up posters but perhaps some more signs should have been put up too. We had a lot more people coming into the town centres as a result of this scheme and there were plenty of people who did not pay for parking."

Comments (5)

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6:01pm Mon 14 Jan 13

BarnetTrader says...

Shame is not something these psychopathic councillors understand. I fear we will have to wait until the elections before we can begin to see anything other than asset stripping by them. I don't know of any of our customers who availed themselves of the so called free parking - they were in fear of getting a ticket.

It was a media stunt, a cynical gesture from someone who doesn't even celebrate Christmas! To make it all the more insulting, parking is free on Sundays, when quite often now our town car park is fuller!
Shame is not something these psychopathic councillors understand. I fear we will have to wait until the elections before we can begin to see anything other than asset stripping by them. I don't know of any of our customers who availed themselves of the so called free parking - they were in fear of getting a ticket. It was a media stunt, a cynical gesture from someone who doesn't even celebrate Christmas! To make it all the more insulting, parking is free on Sundays, when quite often now our town car park is fuller! BarnetTrader
  • Score: 0

8:03pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Rog T says...

Welcome to complacency central !
Welcome to complacency central ! Rog T
  • Score: 0

10:20am Tue 15 Jan 13

educated says...

It was a gimmick to make it look good. Not as good as their 'Free after 3' which ran everyday some years ago.

Anyway, parking is normally free on Sundays.
It was a gimmick to make it look good. Not as good as their 'Free after 3' which ran everyday some years ago. Anyway, parking is normally free on Sundays. educated
  • Score: 0

1:07am Fri 18 Jan 13

Fireball says...

This was a disgusting way to treat people and shows how poor our Council really is. I will never vote for this Councillor. He has bought shame to my Borough and should be ashamed of himself.
This was a disgusting way to treat people and shows how poor our Council really is. I will never vote for this Councillor. He has bought shame to my Borough and should be ashamed of himself. Fireball
  • Score: 0

6:29pm Fri 18 Jan 13

barnet head says...

Nice surprise got my £3 back, so it went wrong, some of the shops should be grateful we bothered, what with such horrible weather.
Nice surprise got my £3 back, so it went wrong, some of the shops should be grateful we bothered, what with such horrible weather. barnet head
  • Score: 0

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