Proposals to bring back cash parking have been shelved until at least 2015 by Conservative councillors.
Barnet Council’s Tory cabinet sided with its own members in a cross-party review of the pay-by-phone system, which many traders argue has killed the high street.
Conservative members of the task and finish group recommended that no decision on bringing back cash parking should be taken until the success of recently-installed credit card machines can be measured.
Labour’s members had called for a return to a cash system, but Tory Councillor Brian Gordon, who headed the review, told tonight’s cabinet meeting that the move would be costly.
The cost to reinstate cash machines in the borough was found to be just £20,000, but collection costs hit an annual £259,000 – an amount the committee felt was unjustified.
Presenting the report, Councillor Gordon admitted there had been “a lot of strong views” during the three-week review, in which councillors spoke to traders and looked at parking schemes in neighbouring boroughs.
And he said the whole group accepted the removal of cash machines was hasty.
He said: “In hindsight, it was a move too fast to get rid of them in the way we did. But we have to look at the reality of the situation as it is now.
“There was a great deal of sympathy and support for the concept of cash parking if there was a way of doing so from a cost-effective point of view.
“But we, the Conservative members, felt we should wait to see the outcome and success of the credit card machines. People are getting used to cashless parking and the idea of pay-by-phone.”
Labour’s parking spokesman Cllr Alan Schneiderman said the parking debate felt “like Groundhog Day”, after several years of complaints from traders.
And he implored his Conservative colleagues to reinstate cash machines in what he called their “final chance to do the right thing”.
But council leader Cllr Richard Cornelius recommended his cabinet vote to delay any decision until at least a year’s time.
He said: “I accept we should look at cashless parking and see how successful it has been and look at advising on possible changes.
“But 2015/16 would be a better time to do it when we are more comfortable and when we have more data.”