Saracens owes Barnet Borough Council more than £380,000 in unpaid parking permits

Saracens owes council more than £380,000 in unpaid parking permits

Derek Dishman, aka Mr Mustard

Saracens owe council more than £380,000 in unpaid parking permits

First published in News
Last updated
Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Rugby club Saracens has been accused of creating a “scandal” after it emerged it owes more £380,000 in unpaid parking permits.

The club, in Allianz Park, Greenlands Lane, agreed to cover the costs of resident and visitor parking vouchers to ease traffic congestion on match days.

But according to invoices, seen by the Times Series, the firm is yet to pay the money it owes due to a disagreement over the price with Barnet Borough Council.

In 2012 and 2013, the club accrued a debt of £318,905 which was later reduced to £250,000 by the council – a discount of almost £70,000.

It is also yet to pay a total of £130,332 for permits given to householders in the area for council years ended March 2013 and 2014. In total, according to the invoices, the club owes £380,332.

When applying for parking permits, householders across the borough are usually billed £40 for their first car and £70 for any subsequent cars. Visitor vouchers cost £1 each.

Edward Griffith, managing director of Saracens, told the Times Series: “There’s no drama. We’re in discussions with the council about this.

“In terms with our lease, we are committed to paying fair and reasonable costs associated with a parking zone. We are currently in discussion as to what fair and reasonable costs are.

“We have worked very well with the council to deliver a unique community sports facility, and I am confident we will reach an agreement shortly.”

He said the club spent “hundreds” on developing a transport system to keep traffic chaos to a minimum on Saracens match days.

On May 7, 2014, Chris Naylor, Barnet Council’s director of finance, Pam Wharfe, strategic director for growth and environment and Paul Thorogood, head of finance, met to discuss the situation.

During the meeting, they agreed to seek legal advice from Harrow and Barnet’s public law team.

In 2012 to 2013, it issued 3,716 parking permits and 129,945 visitor vouchers, and from 2013 to 2014 it issued 2,780 permits and 10,792 vouchers.

There are 7,500 people in the CPZ eligible to apply for a free permit, and householders can also apply for 88 free parking vouchers per year.

Parking expert Derek Dishman, who blogs under the alias Mr Mustard, discovered the unpaid debt in June – the only month the authority’s accounts were open to the general public.

He said: “I don’t see why Saracens are being allowed to pay less than me and other residents. It is a scandal that they are paying less and paying late, if I didn't pay for my permit I wouldn't get one.

“It would be completely improper for them to pay less for a permit than a resident would.

“It is also very disappointing that the council, who keep pleading poverty, don't collect what is correctly due.”

A statement from the council said: “The council is currently in ongoing negotiations with Saracens in order for us to reach an agreement which is fair and reasonable, as well as protecting the interests of the taxpayer.”

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