FURIOUS traders in Burnt Oak have accused Barnet Council of “misleading” about their free parking scheme over the Christmas period.

Shopkeepers in Watling Avenue, say the free parking in pay and display bays after 3pm scheme was a scam, as customers were being ticketed after 5.30pm.

Restrictions in place on the road means people are not allowed to use the on-street parking bays between 8am-9am and 5.30pm-6.30pm.

The council scheme, called Free after 3, allowed free parking in on-street pay and display bays but did say in small print on some posters other parking restrictions would still apply.

Pravin Shah, the owner of Bijal Food Centre in Watling Avenue, said he had seen several people caught out by the problem.

He said: “Every day after 5.30pm a team of traffic wardens came down and started ticketing cars parked in these bays. They caught a lot of people, they must have made a fortune.

“Nothing on the posters tells people they aren't allowed to park there between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, and a lot of the signs around the road are missing. It's a really strange rule, we don't know why they enforce it.

“It seems the council don't want to do anything to really help the traders around here and it doesn't help if people are too scared to park here because of misleading promises.”

The food store owner, who has traded in the street for 34 years, added: “They don't seem interested in enforcing the restrictions during the day, just in catching people out in the evenings.

“A lot of people park their cars and vans on the pavement in this road and just get away with it, yet people who want to come and shop here are being targeted.”

A statement from Barnet Council said seven tickets were handed out after 5.30pm in the on-street parking bays, three for contraventions other than parking there after 5.30pm.

It added: “The Free after Three scheme applied in all on-street pay and display bays and council car parks after 3pm, for the stated hours during which pay and display charges are usually levied.

“The scheme was not intended to suspend all parking enforcement, and it was vital for the safety of motorists and pedestrians that civil enforcement officers continued to patrol areas to prevent problems such as the illegal use of blue badges or cars causing obstructions or parking on footways.

“The signs on the pay and display machines did advise users that other restrictions will still apply.”