AN MP has been accused of misleading constituents about Barnet Council’s increases in parking permit charges.

Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer, a former Tory council leader, received a barrage of letters from angry constituents asking him to help stop the huge rises.

But, in his responses Mr Freer defended the decision to increase permits from £40 to £100 and visitor vouchers to £4 from £1, saying council tax had been used to “top up” the parking account.

However, Barnet Council’s accounts have shown the parking account makes a surplus of millions each year, contradicting Mr Freer’s statement.

In the letter he wrote: “I too live in a CPZ so I do understand the impact of the change in charges and I have made my views known forcefully, not least in representing the views of my constituents.

“I argued, unsuccessfully, that the permit charge increase coupled with the visitor voucher increases was too much. However my views did not change the decision.”

He added: “If the parking account moves into deficit the local authority can either raise council tax, or it can move money from another budget.

“Given the pressure on the council’s overall budget I do not believe it would be right to take money away from front line services to subsidise parking, and any tax increases would have to be substantial to meet the shortfall – something that I do not believe would be accepted by a majority of residents.”

East Finchley’s David Attfield, a lawyer leading a campaign against the rises, said the council’s cabinet was told on February 14 the account would make a £4 million profit this year.

He added: “It’s very unfortunate that residents have been misled by their own MP. This is particularly so given that the true position is the complete opposite of what Mr Freer said.

“Before the increases, CPZ residents were already contributing handsomely towards the council's revenue."

The campaign, which is taking Barnet to court for a judicial review, claims the increases place an unfair burden on those living in CPZs as Barnet Council says the extra cash is needed to repair roads across the borough.

Mr Freer told the Times Series he had asked council officers - who provided him the original information - for clarification on the matter.

He added: “I’m not going to get drawn on this at the moment. The information I received was the parking account was in deficit and that’s why I’m seeking clarification.”