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Traders say Barnet's parking scheme has left them 'fighting for survival'
Distraught traders are worried about the future of their high street as they claim Barnet’s parking scheme is to blame for a 40 per cent decrease in business.
Business owners congregated at The Bohemia in High Road, North Finchley, last night to discuss their concerns about cashless parking driving customers away from the area.
They claim trade has fallen dramatically since Barnet Council removed parking meters and replaced them with the pay-by-phone system.
Paul Shea has owned general store, Tally Ho Discount, for 20 years. He said: “You can pin point to the day our figures went down when pay-by-cash machines were taken away.
"Business has never been so bad.”
Helen Michael, owner of Cafe Buzz, said: “We’re fighting for survival. I have lost all my passing trade in the business because people are scare of getting a parking ticket.
“We all need to stick together. This is our High Road, it’s our businesses. If we want to survive we have to fight.
“Every day that passes is another business going out of business.”
In a recent environment, planning and regeneration report, the council blames the recession for a drop in its parking revenue in the last year. The figures show the council wrongly estimated it would receive 61.6 per cent more income from parking than it actually did.
But traders remain adamant the shortfall would be reversed if parking meters were reinstalled.
Drivers can also purchase scratch cards to pay for parking, but traders say this scheme has not been publicised widely enough.
Ms Michael said: “People pull up and look bewildered and then drive away again.”
In a group vote, traders decided to lobby the council to bring back pay-by-coin meters and scrap scratch cards as well as introduce a half an hour free parking scheme and a cap on parking charges.
The meeting was also attended by a couple of shop owners from Mill Hill and Barnet who say their high streets are suffering from the same problem.
Councillor David Longstaff said he would take everyone’s comments back to the cabinet member for environment, Councillor Dean Cohen, and leader of the council, Councillor Richard Cornelius.