Sunday, 9 March 2014

CPZ Charges: no increases planned

One of the questions we were asked back when we launched our legal action was whether, even if won, the Council may simply try again to increase CPZ parking charges for residents.

It seems for the moment at least that neither the current administration nor the Lib Dem or Labour oppositions plan any increases (perhaps they have one eye on the upcoming elections?). The Council has recently published their proposed fees and charges for next year and the good news therefore is that no increases for CPZ residents are planned. You can see details of all of the the proposals and also respond to the consultation here:

http://engage.barnet.gov.uk/environment-and-operations/street-scenes-fees-charges-2014-15/consult_view 

Despite charges being frozen or being subject only to modest increases, there are still a few ugly remnants of the old discredited parking regime:


  • As if moving house wasn't expensive enough, you have to factor in the cost of a parking suspension. Barnet charge a £63.50 flat charge PLUS £63 each day  - so a minimum of £126.50. If you have a removal van, you will need 2 or 3 parking spaces to be suspended, so you're looking at around £300 or £400. Don't even think of needing a skip outside your home for a couple of weeks!
  • Any change to a parking permit or requesting a refund costs £21.  So there's no point cancelling a permit which has 6 months or less to run as it will cost you more than the refund you are entitled to.
  • A 3 month temporary permit (useful perhaps if your child is home from college for the summer) costs a truly ridiculous £252.
Whilst we have won the war over the cost of residents' permits and visitor vouchers, these hangovers from the old charging regime are still hugely unfair.  If you agree, please let Barnet know by responding to the consultation by 20 March.  
 
 

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Barnet Council (finally) invites you to have your say - 9 December

In what appears to be a genuine attempt to understand the concerns of Barnet residents, the Council has appointed a research company to hold some focus groups with residents to discuss parking issues in the borough (High Street and other parking as well as residents parking). 

They are specifically looking for a number of our supporters to attend a group on Monday 9 December in Whetsone from 4.30pm  to 6pm.  The group will comprise 8 residents so there should be plenty of opportunity to put your views across.

If you are interested in taking part, please email us at barnetcpz@gmail.com. We will pass your details on to the research company (Alpha Research) who will then be in touch direct.

If you are interested in participating but can't make the session on 9 December, please also contact us as other sessions may become available.

Other news:

We are still waiting for the payment of our legal costs by Barnet Council to be finalised so that we can begin the process of repaying what we can to supporters who made donations of £20 or more. There is progress on this front but realistically the issue may not be resolved until the new year because Barnet are (understandably) subjecting the legal fees we incurred to a good deal of scrutiny.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Are you in a similar situation? And Barnet aren't following the spirit of the judgment.

Problems with other Councils

We've received many emails from people up and down the country letting us know of problems they are experiencing with their councils. Often people are seeking our advice on what they should do. It's clear that many councils are alienating residents through their actions, particularly over parking.

We're sorry but we're not able to provide advice about other situations. In part, this is due to time constraints but also because each situation is unique and usually complex. We would however just make the following points:

1. If you are thinking of challenging parking charges imposed by your council, look to see if there is actual hard evidence that the council is motivated by raising revenue. We won our case against Barnet Council, and felt confident enough to bring it, because of clear undisputed evidence that the council raised parking charges for the minority residents in CPZs in order to raise money and thereby keep the council tax down. Other challenges against Westminster and Camden failed because there wasn't this sort of clear evidence of revenue raising.

2. In most cases, the way to challenge the actions of your council is to bring a judicial review action. This is a legal action brought in the High Court. These need to be brought promptly, within three months at most of the decision which you are challenging having been taken.  High Court actions are also costly (tens of thousands of pounds at least) and recent changes mean that you are now unlikely to take advantage of a "no win, no fee" agreement with your solicitors in order to help bring a claim.

Barnet don't follow the spirit of the judgment

A supporter has told us that Barnet are refusing to reimburse residents who bought half day visitor vouchers for £2.20 even though the effect of the Court ruling is that residents should only have been charged £1 for a whole day.

Strictly Barnet may be right in that half day vouchers (introduced a year after the other increases), were not technically part of the legal action. But surely if the effect of the court ruling is to reduce the cost of a full day voucher to £1, the Council should follow the spirit of the judgment and also reimburse people who bought half day vouchers so that they too only pay £1?