Residents are campaigning to keep a Mill Hill car park free of charge.

Around 380 people have signed a petition calling for Daws Lane car park and the Mill Hill Park car park off Wise Street to remain free of charge, after hearing Barnet Borough Council is carrying out a “pre-consultation” exercise to discuss imposing charges seven days a week.

Chairman of the Mill Hill Residents Association Richard Logue said the council had already spoken to some stakeholders including a few local shops and the bowling club, however the Friends of Mill Hill Park and the residents association had not been consulted.

Barnet Council is considering putting in 40 short-stay bays and 40 long-stay bays. The council proposes to offer one hour free then charge £1 for two hours for short stay spaces. For the long stay spaces, drivers would be charged £3.50 for up to four hours and £5 to park all day.

Mr Logue said: “We consider any charges levied at this car park would be detrimental to the quality of life for residents. It is not fair that someone who does not live within walking distance of the park will have to pay to take their children there at the weekend.”

Residents feel parking charges would lead to people parking in the streets surrounding the park, especially in Poet’s Corner. This would lead to congestion and the possible imposition of a controlled parking zone, which residents oppose.

Mr Logue said: “We don’t want to pay for residents' parking permits to park in the area if a controlled parking zone is introduced. We’re worried charges will make people rip up their front gardens to park their cars, ruining the character of the area.”

Residents are also concerned charges will have a detrimental impact on shop workers in Mill Hill, especially those on low incomes, as this is the only free car park in the area.

Mr Logue said: “We’ere quite pleased with the number of signatures. People feel strongly. We want to present the council with a petition when they do consult about parking charges, to show our opposition.

“People parking in these car parks is not causing residents any inconvenience and we don’t want it to change.”

Councillor Dean Cohen, cabinet member for environment, said: "We are currently in the process of listening to the community in Mill Hill as we are determined to get away from a 'one size fits all' parking policy.

"We want a solution that is tailored to fit Mill Hill and after this pre-consultation stage, we will go out and speak further with local groups to come up with a plan."