ANGER turned to pleading last night as North Finchley business owners shared concerns about changes to parking that are “killing business”.

A North Finchley Business Forum held last night at Trinity Church saw traders address leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius over changes to parking they say are reducing trade by up to 40 per cent.

Helen Michael, of Buzz Cafe, said: “My turn over has gone down by 40 per cent. If that continues I’m going to be out of business very soon. It’s killing my business.”

“We are begging for our businesses, for our livelihoods. Please do something.”

A combination of high prices and the hassle of pay-by-phone were blamed for driving customers out of the High Road.

Many traders exclaimed that business was at its worst, one said: “In 20 years of trading I’ve never seen the parking bays so empty.”

Another said: "I've never encountered such despair in business keepers, it's the biggest issue I can remember."

Julian Hurst, director of Julian Hurst Carpets, Vinyl and Real Wood floors said: “You’re supposed to be here to support us. I just don’t understand it, it’s outrageous.

“You’ve done this without consultation. You’re taking the food out of my children’s mouths.

“Whatever revenue you are trying to collect, you won’t get any when there are no businesses left in the High Road.”

Cllr Cornelius admitted that preliminary figures showed a seven per cent decrease in revenue earned through parking since the changes.

David Attfield of Barnet CPZ Action group, which is pursuing High Court action against the council over parking, said: “It’s about the cost – the cost is absurd. It is cheaper to park in Hyde Park than in North Finchley.”

Cllr Cornelius said there would be no free parking in the lead up to Christmas and confirmed that prices would “rise in line with inflation”.

Traders say customers are opting to shop at centres such as Brent Cross, where parking is free, or The Spires, which is cheaper.