11:03pm Tuesday 17th April 2012
By Chris Hewett
East Barnet councillors who promised to “do everything in their power” to stop new car parking charges failed to vote against the plans tonight.
The ward representatives gave their full support last month to traders angered at plans to introduce the payments to the Church Hill Road car park.
Yet at a full council meeting tonight, the politicians failed to stand by their pledge and opted not to vote in favour of a motion to scrap the plans.
Conservative councillors Robert Rams and Joanna Tambourides ducked out of the council chamber moments before the ballot was taken, while Barry Evangeli abstained from the vote.
The motion was eventually rejected with 23 votes in favour and 30 against, though seven councillors were absent and one, Cllr Evangeli, abstained.
The trio’s lack of action comes weeks after they pledged to fight tooth and nail for traders in front of a packed East Barnet Residents’ Association meeting.
Speaking at the meeting on March 20, Cllr Rams told the 100-strong audience he felt “confident” he would get the plans withdrawn and asked the group to “judge me on my results”.
All three councillors declined to offer a comment at the end of tonight’s meeting, though Cllr Rams said he would provide a response tomorrow morning (Wednesday).
Opposition councillor Kath McGuirk drew up tonight’s motion, calling on members to withdraw wider plans to bring in payments to the borough's seven remaining free car parks.
Barnet Council is currently consulting on the proposals, which were refused by the cabinet in 2001.
The plans were put together by cabinet member for environment councillor Brian Coleman who said tonight it was unfair for the council to run a policy where some car parks charged and others did not.
Opponents argue the fact the charges were included in the council budget, approved last month, means a decision has already been made.
Cllr Coleman’s comments this evening will have done little to alleviate those fears, but the Tory politician said he planned to listen to residents.
He said: “I believe in consultation and I listen to those who contact me. You can’t have one rule for some and one rule for others. We’re out to consultation on the whole charging regime to maximise benefits to traders and residents.”
Adressing the chamber, Cllr McGuirk said: “These plans should be shelved. This has been the longest running saga in this borough and no-one on this Conservative group seems to listen.
“The reality is you’re not interested what the people of Barnet say. You all voted for these charges, it is in your budget. Now you look to consult on them because it is getting a bit lairy. You’re running scared – if you believe in the people of this borough, drop these charges now.”
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