Monday 22 December 2014

The final piece of good news

A message from David Attfield

Agreement has finally been reached with Barnet Council for the payment of my legal costs - nearly 18 months after the High Court  ruled in my favour and declared Barnet Council's parking charges unlawful.

Barnet Council will be paying £155,000 for my legal costs. The good news is that this allows us to keep the promise we made at the start of the campaign - that we would aim to return larger donations at least in part.  In the New Year we will be contacting donors to outline the arrangements for returning money to them.

It gives me no pleasure that, at a time when Council finances are stretched and services are under threat, the Council has senselessly incurred such a large liability. I say "senselessly" because:

  • The case was won on exactly the basis that I had outlined to the Council at the very start. The Council had their eyes wide open.  
  • At the start of the claim, I offered to limit my legal costs to £15,000 if the Council agreed likewise.  Their rejection of this offer meant that I was liable to tens of thousands of pounds in legals costs were I to lose. To protect me, I had to take out legal costs insurance, which was only available if I engaged independent solicitors and barristers. This was the only way left for me to bring the claim - but as the Council would have known, it was a very expensive way.  If the Council had accepted my offer, £140,000 of public money would have been saved. 
A Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year to all of our many supporters.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Barnet Launch Consultation on New Parking Policy

Now Barnet want to hear from you

Barnet Council has launched a consultation on a new draft parking policy. You can access the policy document and take part in the consultation using this link: consultation survey

Unbelievably, the policy document is over 70 pages long. It is full of unobjectionable (and rather vague) aspirations about keeping the traffic flowing, the roads safe and parking convenient but the consultation is still an opportunity for you to make it clear what your priorities are. 

On the subject of CPZ parking, the Council highlight that resident should on the whole be able to park near their homes. And they accept that charges cannot be set in order to raise revenue, which is the opposite of what they argued in the Court Case.

The ongoing saga of the legal costs

Even though it is over a year since the Court gave judgment in our favour, the costs of the court case have still not be sorted out. It now looks as though there will have to a further hearing just so the question of how much Barnet must pay towards the legal costs is resolved. That hearing will be in December.
All this means that we still do not know if we will be in a position to return the larger donations that we received, at least in part. 

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: 

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.