Free permits for councillors is ‘outrageous’

ANGRY residents have launched a campaign this week demanding changes to Barnet Council’s parking regime.

In their first act of protest, members of the influential Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association called on their local politicians to give up their free parking permits.

The perk has attracted massive criticism since Barnet revealed proposals to hike residents parking permits charges from �42 to �100 in January.

The RA have now sent a letter to all three Hampstead Garden Suburb councillors demanding that they submit themselves to the same parking controls as residents.

“We call upon you, the Garden Suburb ward councillors, to waive your rights to free parking permits for use in Barnet and to agree to subject yourselves to the same regulations and processes that apply to your constituents,” they said.

“Not wishing you to suffer less notice than residents affected by the latest changes we should be pleased to hear that you will consent to relinquish your Member Permits from the date that the new parking price rises become effective.”

The RA’s action follows a stream of criticism aimed at new measures brought in by Barnet’s outspoken parking boss Brian Coleman.

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The changes included the introduction of cashless parking, which residents including columnist Richard Littlejohn have railed against, and the increasing price of visitor permits from �1 to �4.

The council sparked further upset this month by removing free parking bays from CPZ zones around both East Finchley and Golders Green tube stations.

Barnet bosses have defended their decision to give the free permits, saying they were given to allow councillors to park while on official business.

But Gary Shaw, a member of the RA, dismissed this claim as “outrageous”.

He said: “Using such a device to avoid having to comply with regulations which apply to the rest of us is outrageous and the argument that it is only used for council business carries no weight whatsoever.

“There is no reason at all why a councillor on council business should be able to avoid normal parking regulations when other citizens in carrying out their own businesses cannot. The sense of self-importance here is truly breathtaking.”

The RA have also warned Garden Suburb councillors that a refusal to give up their free passes will “greatly undermine” public confidence in their ability to act with impartiality on parking matters.

A council spokesman said: “In line with other local authorities, members’ permits are available to councillors and MPs to use on official business. If a councillor lives in a CPZ they pay for a residents’ permit the same as everybody else.”