Drivers clobbered in 500% parking fee rise

PLANNED increases of up to 500 per cent in parking charges have been slammed as “extortionate”.

A Haringey Council review of all parking costs recommends charges should increase from �45 to �240 for doctors parking permits, while pay and display tickets in Muswell Hill and Crouch End look set to more than double from �1.40 to �3 an hour.

Residents permits will increase by up to 66 per cent – depending on engine size – and everything from traders’ to business permits could also rocket.

Doctor’s surgeries and traders in Muswell Hill and Crouch End say the increases will be bad for business.

Crouch End trader Chris Freeman said: “While appreciating Haringey has financial problems, to clobber an easy target like this is extortionate.”

The review into parking, which will be voted on by cabinet members on Tuesday, states: “Given the unique range of challenges faced by local government, it is important to continually review service provision to ensure costs and charges are appropriate and will remain so.”

It also says it aims to bring Haringey’s charges in line with the London average.

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The authority is currently ranked 14 out of 21 authorities for the cost of its residents’ permits. If the changes go ahead, they will jump to ninth.

If the report is agreed, a consultation would take place. But the document states that, if no “major objections” are received, the charges will be implemented by officers without another vote or discussion at council.

At the moment, doctors surgeries pay �45 a year for a parking bay, which can be shared by various vehicles. But under the latest plans, this would rocket to �240 for a single permit – meaning each vehicle would be subject to the new higher charge.

Practice manager Lesley Mayo, of the Dukes Avenue Surgery in Muswell Hill, said that, with nine doctors, they would be severely hit.

“It’s a bit of a shock – we are a non-profit organisation, not a business,” she said.

“Increasing the cost of bays from �45 to �240 would be bad enough but to change it to permits as well is an astonishing increase. If this goes through we would seriously have to consider how we would manage our vehicles.”

Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Green Lanes pay and display bays are currently ranked as “medium occupancy areas” meaning tickets are in the middle band of Haringey’s pricing.

But as well as hiking prices in all three categories across the borough, tickets in these areas will now be charged in the “high occupancy” band – leading to an increase from �1.40 to �3 for shoppers.

A document released at full council last month showed Green Lanes, Muswell Hill and Crouch End Broadway were all in the top four roads in the borough for generating revenue in parking fines. Green Lanes was also revealed as the most ticketed road in the country.

Mr Freeman said: “It will be detrimental to the high street. It will drive people away to the one-stop supermarkets where car parking is free and it will have an adverse effect on trade and jobs.”

Muswell Hill traders’ group co-chairwoman Emma Whittlestone added: “Parking is already a problem for us. People already complain about it. So this will make it even harder for us.”

A council spokesman said: “These charges are the first such rises since the reviews of 2007/8. Increased charges in Muswell Hill, Green Lanes and Crouch End will encourage a regular turnover of visitors to town centres. Doctors’ charges have not been increased for 10 years and their rates have been brought in line with business charges.”