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Councillor claims parking not solely to blame for high street's downturn
Parking problems are not solely to blame for a downfall in the number of shoppers visiting high streets, according to a Barnet councillor.
The comments made by Cllr Dean Cohen have outraged traders in High Road, North Finchley, who claim Barnet Council’s parking scheme has caused a 40 per cent drop in their sales.
Paul Shea, owner of Tally Ho Discount for 20 years, says the day the pay-by-cash machines were taken away from the high street is when his sales began to drop.
But Councillor Dean Cohen argues other factors such as the economy and internet shopping are also to blame.
Referring to a Transport for London town centre study, Cllr Cohen said: “Figures suggest there has been about a ten per cent decline year on year in people parking in our town centres. Traders are telling me their income is down much more than that, which suggests people are parking a bit less and shopping a lot less.
"We have to look at the wider context here. The figures show that only 14 per cent of shoppers drive to the high street. Clearly the challenge facing the high street is much broader than just parking.”
He added he is “more than happy” to talk to businesses about ways to support town centres and he is currently working on schemes to improve parking.
However, Helen Michael, owner of Cafe Buzz in High Road, said: “Saying the problems are not just down to parking is naive.
"We’ve been in a recession for three years now, and traders can put it to the day when footfall fell and the new parking scheme was introduced.
“People simply won’t come and park if it’s not cheap and easy but £2 for an hour in Finchley is ridiculous. The car parks are standing empty – this parking agenda is failing miserably.”