New parking charges being introduced to an East Barnet shopping precinct will kill off trade and turn the village into a ghost town, say local businesses.

Barnet Council has issued notice of charges coming into force in the Church Hill Road car park, which has served local shops in the village for decades.

The move will bring the car park in line with off-street parking charges across the borough, which motorists can only pay using mobile phones or pre-paid scratch cards.

Shopkeepers have warned the prices and inconvenience will push customers away, with many claiming they will be forced to close if the charges are introduced.

Rob Pugh, owner of Abbey Fire Alarms, started a petition in several of the village shops last week that has already been signed by scores of people opposing the move.

He said: “I’m very angry and disappointed. They tried to introduce these charges in 2001 but we fought it then and won. The council is penalising us - our customers are going to go elsewhere.

"The motto of this council is 'putting the community first' – it’s a joke. How are they putting us first if they are hitting residents with these charges?”

The council also plans to introduce the pricing scheme to car parks in Egerton Gardens and New Brent Street, Hendon, and Quakers Course, Colindale.

Prices start at £1.05 for a half hour stay and rise to £5.25 to park for more than three hours.

Many local businesses that rely on passing trade fear the restrictions will force them to close.

Demetra Andreou, co-owner of Jet Dry Cleaners, said: “We’re very upset. It has been very hard as it is but now I fear we will have to close. The charges are completely unnecessary – all the customer wants is to stop for two minutes to pick up and drop off their clothes.

"No-one will pay that amount of money to park up. We have never had such a bad time and this is the final straw. Everything is working against us – even the council.”

The authority is currently running a consultation on the charges and residents have until Thursday, March 22, to comment.

In a statement, a council representative said: “These proposed changes would allow the council to better manage its assets as well as making sure car parks meet varying demands for short and long stay parking in each area.

"The proposals are still subject to consultation until March 22 and therefore a decision is yet to be taken.”