'Listen to the people' - 1,500 sign petition for half hour free parking in Temple Fortune

Times Series: Lorretta Paterson and fellow shopkeepers holding the petition carrying 1,500 signatures in support of their half hour free parking campaign. Lorretta Paterson and fellow shopkeepers holding the petition carrying 1,500 signatures in support of their half hour free parking campaign.

Shopkeepers have launched a petition calling for Barnet Borough Council to “listen to the people of Temple Fortune” and secure the future of their high street by implementing half an hour’s free parking.

Lorretta Paterson, owner of Temptation in Finchley Road, started the petition after becoming “fed up” with losing customers because of parking problems in the area.

Ms Paterson said: “For the last couple of years parking charges have been going up and up, and the lack of cash parking hasn’t helped. It’s been impossible for some people to get used to the pay-by-phone system, or paying by credit card.

“Business is hard enough for small independent shops. Business rates have trebled over the last seven years, and we’ve been in a recession.

“I think half an hour's free parking would put us back on the map and allow customers to use their high street more easily. We just want the council to listen to the people.”

Approximately 1,500 people have signed the petition, and customers have been keen to share their enthusiasm for the campaign with shopkeepers.

Estee Kopstein, manager at Kosher Paradise, said: “Customers tell me they don’t want to come here because of the parking, and it’s definitely affecting business.

“A lot of them just want to run in for one item, and 30 minutes' free parking would make that easier.”

Niroo Desai, finance controller at Landys Chemist which has been in the high street since 1949, said parking is one of the reasons shopkeepers are leaving Temple Fortune for good.

Last year approximately eight traders decided not to renew their lease, leaving empty shops in the high street.

Mr Desai said: “Empty shops look ugly. Something has to be done.

“Sometimes people just want to buy a small pack of medication, like paracetamol for 75p, or pick up a prescription – but they have to pay £1 for parking on top of that. If there’s 30 minutes' free parking it would encourage a higher turnover of customers.”

Councillor Dean Cohen, who is in charge of setting parking policy in the borough, told the Times Series he will consider whether half an hour’s free parking would be a suitable option for Temple Fortune.

He said: “My objective is to ensure that every high street, town centre or parade of shops has an occupancy rate of parking that is around 85 per cent.

“I’m waiting on the figures for Temple Fortune. If it’s not achieving that then something needs to be done, whether that’s adjusting tariffs or elements of free parking.

“Each area has different needs and requirements in order to stimulate a vibrant high street, and we’re looking at each area on its own.”

To sign Ms Paterson’s online petition visit http://petitions.barnet.gov.uk/Free-parking/

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