There is a war going on in the streets of Barnet, and it centres on parking. The number one topic of discontent in the borough is the source of an ongoing civil unrest.

Motorists have been driven mad over the past 18 months with what they say are high hourly rates, a confusing cashless system and unfair CPZs.

Drivers dodge the charges, protest about policy and traders petition Barnet Borough Council, while one vigilante has even taken the law into their own hands – spraying the parking signs black to makes the fees unenforceable.

Caught in the midst of this unsavoury battle are the parking wardens, contracted by NSL to police the council’s car parks and on-street bays.

Times Series reporter Chris Hewett ventured onto the streets of North Finchley with one such warden to catch a glimpse of the daily fight to enforce the local authority’s parking policies.

The blue-uniformed ‘civil enforcement officers’, or CEOs, as their official titles goes, get a bad press around these parts, not least because of the unpopular, and some say confusing, pay-by-phone system introduced little more than  a year ago.

Recent efforts by the council to appease the driving population include reduced tariffs and short-stay bays but parking still gets people talking.

Jenny has had to put up with her fair share of abusive motorists, something we came across during the hour-long walk around the town centre.

She also tells us about a group known as “persistent avoiders”, regular offenders known to NSL who appear to point-blank ignore the borough’s parking rules.

But despite the occasional foul-mouthed road user, the 24-year-old, who has been patrolling the streets since March, says she enjoys her job.

“It keeps you fit, gets you out meeting people and, at the end of the day, we’re here to move on traffic. We’re here to do that as much as we can before we actually have to give out any tickets.

“No-one expects to get a ticket – including me when I’m parking – but people know the rules, they know the law and they have to abide by it.”

Contrary to popular belief, the authority’s CEO’s are given no targets or quotas to hit when they patrol the streets.

They are simply given a patch to cover on a standard seven-hour shift and told to move traffic along and enforce the rules with Penalty Charge Notices where necessary.

Former travel rep Jenny says she never imagined she would become a parking warden and, rather than being a subject she avoids around strangers, the reception she says she often gets in this financial climate is one of: “At least you have a job.”

The perks of the fresh air and exercise though have their draw backs, and after just 20 minutes into our morning round, Jenny is given some verbal from a woman who refused to pay while she popped into Greggs.

“For God’s sake, I bet you were just waiting around the corner for me weren’t you? It’s ridiculous.”

The interaction is a familiar one for the parking enforcers of Barnet and Jenny reveals that she can be sworn at and verbally abused on a weekly basis.

She said: “I don’t take it to heart. I’ve had people accuse me of hiding behind post boxes waiting for them, people swearing at me, calling me a pig. You get a lot of people looking at you as though you are against them, but of course we’re not, we just have a job to do.

“I do feel sorry for people when I have to give them a ticket as I know how I would feel. Sometimes I wish they would come back before I had to give it out.

“I’d like people to see me here as someone they can come to for information or advice so that they never need to get a ticket – if people don’t ask, you can’t help.”

On our journey up and down the High Road, weaving into the council’s off-street car parks, we come across two vehicles illegally parked, one of which already had a ticket and the other being the woman who fled from Greggs without her breakfast.

In the world of parking contraventions, regulation tens, code elevens and penalty charge notices, popularity is not the aim of the game.

But for someone like Jenny, the job is a chance to get out, meet people and enforce rules that she does not make herself.

“Personally, I think we do a good thing by moving on traffic. Everyone has a job to do – I’m not a mean person. If you ask me It is common sense, people know the risks and it is up to them if they take them.”

NB: We have used a false name for the parking warden to protect her identity.