Barnet residents launch High Court Action over parking permits

A GROUP of Barnet residents has launched High Court action against the council over its plans to increase the price of parking permits.

Members of the Barnet CPZ Action group have dug into their own pockets to pay for legal proceedings against the Tory-run council which wants to raise residents’ parking permits from �40 to �100 and visitor permits from �1 to �4, from April 18.

Residents say it is unfair of the council to raise parking charges in Barnet in line with inner city London boroughs when there is not the same demand for parking spaces.

They say Barnet’s parking fees should reflect outer London boroughs such as Haringey where a resident’s permit is �40 and – and a visitor permit is 30p per hour because it is more residential.

Mother-of-two Dr Debbie Linton lives in Summerlee Avenue, East Finchley, which is in a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ). Parking restrictions are in place from 10am until 6.30pm, six days a week.

She said: “Ninety per cent of people living in Barnet do not live in the controlled parking zone and many people have garages and driveways which means they won’t be affected by this.

“But we will. The blanket charge of �4 for a visitor parking permit means people will have to pay that if they stay in our road all day or just park for 10 minutes to pick their kids up from my house, for example. It’s very unfair.”

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Dr Linton, who teaches criminology at Birkbeck College, said that there was a teacher living in her road who paid her nanny’s parking permit. She currently pays �200 a year but under the new rates this will rocket to �800.

She is also concerned about the effects the new charges will have on elderly residents living in the CPZ, who she says, may become socially isolated if their friends or family do not want to pay �4 to visit them.

Campaigners want to overturn the residential parking charges on the basis that they are unlawful. A key part of their case is that the council can only justify increasing parking charges where it is necessary to control demand.

They have cited the views of the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) Foundation, a registered charity, as evidence that the council has acted unlawfully.

It stated in a report last year: “It is illegal for local authorities to set charges in order to provide a source of revenue for other activities, even if the money raised is used to fund transport provision. The level of charges must be based solely on the need to manage parking.”

Solicitor David Attfield, chairman of the Barnet CPZ Action group and a fellow resident of Summerlee Avenue, said: “We have been left with no alternative other than the High Court. We have sought independent advice from a barrister and believe we have a good case to apply for Judicial Review.”

The group is expecting to hear in the next three weeks whether it can proceed to a judicial review.

A council spokesperson said: “The council can confirm it has received one claim from an East Finchley resident. The increases come as a result of a routine review of all charges across the council which included parking fees. These charges are in line with other London boroughs.”