BARNET Council has been urged to make “quick” changes to its parking services to help bring customers back to the high street.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has asked the council to adopt a Fair Parking Policy to support traders who have witnessed a drop in sales since parking charges were increased and pay-and-display machines were removed.

FSB senior development manager, Matthew Jeffer said: “These measures undertaken by Barnet Council are short term revenue grabs and a tax on shopkeepers. It’s driving customers away from the high street at a time when we need people to shop there.

“Councils should be looking at ways of free parking and getting shops to stay on the high street.”

The Federation’s Charter for Parking in London states councils should not regard parking regulations and the income generated from parking fines as a means of raising revenue.

The charter, made up of eight points, also states parking tickets should include more information about the offence and councils should show more leniencies to businesses needing to load and unload vehicles.

Mr Jeffer added: “Barnet council needs to think long and hard and do a quick turnaround and appease the businesses. We don’t want footfall to decrease dramatically and see businesses really struggling.”

Bhavesh Patel is one of Barnet’s many shopkeepers who are worried about the future of their stores.

Mr Patel, 30, owns Hallmark Cards in High Road, Finchley, and has lost around 35-40 per cent of trade in the last month.

Blaming the pay-by-phone-system, he said: “I tried to call to register my car and it took me over eight minutes. I have customers complaining about it – older customers don’t have mobile phones and people are going to Brent Cross where there is free parking.

“You would never find parking spaces outside the shops but now there are.”

Drivers can pay using cash at Pay Points in stores across Barnet but there is just one in High Road at Confags newsagents.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: "The council is always concerned at the impact of parking charges on business.

“We have introduced pre-paid scratch cards to be available for shoppers in time for Christmas trading. Traders will be able to buy scratch cards in bulk if they wish which they can then pass on to customers."

The cards will be available on December 9 and will cost £2 for an hour’s parking, but a minimum of four cards must be purchased in a single transaction.

Many traders fear the cards are too expensive and although plans are underway to implement cards costing £1 for 30 minutes in January, they say customers will already be shopping elsewhere.

Scratch cards can be pre-ordered online from tomorrow via the link: