Another battering for Brian: this time sparked by chips

OUTSPOKEN columnist Richard Littlejohn weighed into the ongoing row over Barnet’s parking practices in spectacular fashion this week.

The controversial Daily Mail writer launched an astonishing attack on the council’s equally opinionated environment boss Brian Coleman after struggling to park outside his favourite fish and chip shop.

Littlejohn blamed his predicament on parking measures introduced by Mr Coleman, which he said were indicative of the Barnet councillor’s “sheer bloody-mindedness”. “Not a great advert for the Big Society,” he sniped in his weekly column.

Littlejohn claims it was Mr Coleman’s cashless parking scheme which prevented him enjoying a takeaway at his local chippy, the Two Brothers in Finchley, last Friday.

He wrote in the Mail on Tuesday: “Pulling up at the restaurant, I thought it was quiet. Then I tried to buy a parking ticket.

“All four pay-and-display machines in the area had been sealed off, permanently. The only way of paying was to set up an account, over the phone.

“Well, I was damned if I was giving out my credit card details to an anonymous call centre for less than a quid.”

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The opinionated writer went on to warn Mr Coleman that he was treading a thin line by also awarding himself and his colleagues “lavish” allowances while increasing residents’ parking charges by up to 150 per cent.

“Someone from Central Office should have a word in his shell-like,” Littlejohn advised.

“If Coleman doesn’t relent, he will deserve to be thrown out on his ear at the next election and the Conservatives’ hopes of reforming local government will go down with him.”

Mr Coleman told the Ham&High that he could not respond to the scathing comments because “I don’t read the Daily Mail”. But stepping in on Mr Coleman’s behalf, Barnet Council rubbished Mr Littlejohn’s claims.

A council spokeswoman questioned the irate journalist’s complaints, saying: “The pay and display bays finish at 6.30pm so if Mr Littlejohn was looking for parking after 6.30pm he should have been able to park for free.

“There is a residential road very close by where there are restrictions until 8pm because residents complained about people parking in their bays to go to the Two Brothers. But if he was parking in front of the chip shop, he shouldn’t have had a problem.”

But Mr Littlejohn is not alone in his anger with Barnet’s parking regime.

Last month, residents dubbed the council “fascists” after it emerged it had hiked up the cost of parking permits but in the same breath awarded its own councillors free parking.

Gary Shaw, a member of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association, hinted that people in Barnet were not planning to take the recent changes lying down.

“The residents association is very concerned about all these matters – particularly in light of the proposed enormous parking fee increases,” he said.

“And we are considering what action we should encourage our members to take in response to some of the outrageous measures introduced by Barnet.”