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East Barnet traders roast councillors over parking charge plans
Hostile traders roasted East Barnet councillors last night over plans to introduce charges to a village centre car park.
The ward’s three Conservative representatives were verbally lynched at the East Barnet Residents’ Association meeting by a 100-strong crowd angered at proposals for the Church Hill Road car park.
Councillor Robert Rams took the floor to discuss the issue but bore the brunt of a restless group that had been made to wait in a stuffy meeting room for the politicians to arrive.
The cabinet member spoke on behalf of his two colleagues in denouncing the charges, adding that the trio would do “everything in their power to stop them”.
Barnet Council announced earlier this month it wants to enforce charges of up to £5.25 to park for longer than three hours in the popular car park.
Angry shop owners say the move would kill off trade in the area and have gathered a petition of more than 3,500 signatures opposing the plans.
Speaking at last night’s meeting at Brookside Methodist Church, Cllr Rams refuted claims that he voted for the charges at a council cabinet meeting and said he would not resign if the scheme was introduced.
He said: “I didn’t vote for the charges – I voted for a consultation. We agree that these charges will be the death of the community here.
“It is clearly not the right decision and I can’t see any rationale as to how it would be. I personally haven’t seen a campaign like this since I have been a councillor and that is why I’m so confident we will get the proposals withdrawn.
“I love what I do and I have great pride in being a councillor for East Barnet. I will not be resigning if the charges come in. People will have the chance to vote at the next election, judge me on my results.”
The council carried out a consultation on its proposals this month, the results of which will form part of the decision taken by the cabinet, overseen by Conservative Councillor Brian Coleman who proposed the charges.
Some critics of the planned scheme say a decision has already been taken by Cllr Coleman and that the consultation is merely a token gesture to traders.
Chairman of the Federation of Residents’ Associations in Barnet, David Howard, said: “We can’t see the village die because of the selfishness of one man who thinks he runs the council. I don’t doubt your sincerity Cllr Rams but I also don’t doubt his stubbornness.”
Traders this morning presented their petition to Barnet Council to consider as part of the consultation and remain hopeful the charges will be dismissed.
Campaign leader Rob Pugh said: “If Cllr Rams’ sincerity is going to have an impact it will be great but we’re up against Brian Coleman.
"The councillors do seem rather confident, though whether that was because of the crowd’s hostility, I’m not sure. It seems too good to be true. We were really pleased with the turnout and want to thank all the local people for their support.”