Plans to double Crouch End and Muswell Hill parking reconsidered

PLANS to more than double pay and display parking in Crouch End and Muswell Hill will be more carefully scrutinised after local opposition councillors demands for the authority to think again.

Last month Haringey Council’s cabinet agreed plans to increase pay and display charges in the two town centres and Green Lanes from �1.40 to �3 per hour, increase the charges of parking permits by up to 66 per cent and charge doctors around �200 more a year for their permits.

However, local Liberal Democrats strongly objected to the decision and earlier this month won the right to “call-in” the matter to the authority’s watchdog committee – Overview and Scrutiny.

The watchdog – made up of councillors from both parties and members of the public – unanimously agreed with the Lib Dems’ assertions that the council should carry out a more detailed impact assessment into the plans to increase the pay and display charges and sent the matter back to the ruling cabinet team.

On Monday night the group met and agreed to carry out an impact and an equalities assessment into the effects of upping the pay and display tickets as well as promising to consider the report and the responses to a consultation before making their decision at a meeting in March.

Previously the cabinet had devolved the power and planned just to allow the scheme to go ahead unless there were “serious objections”.

However, the other parking increases will go ahead as planned, meaning the permit charges will probably rise following a statutory consultation.

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At a report to Monday night’s meeting the council defended its decision by noting that increasing the parking charges in the three town centres would raise around �900,000 a year for the cash-strapped authority.

The cabinet also argues that the charges will only bring Haringey into line with other London boroughs.

However, Crouch End councillor Lyn Weber, who was responsible for calling-in the decision, welcomed the news, saying: “This is a small step in the right direction and recognition by the Labour cabinet that their policy would harm the local economy.

“Now the council must listen to local traders and shoppers when considering whether to implement the rise in charges.

“If there is any hint that our local shopping centres cannot withstand the proposed steep increases in parking fees, action not words will need to be taken swiftly to modify this policy’s extortionate charges.”

However, she added: “It is most unfortunate that the Cabinet chose to steam ahead with other rises and not review the whole policy in the context of Haringey.”

Fellow Crouch End councillor David Winskill – who sits on the Scrutiny Committee – praised the process that had seen the plans reconsidered.

“This is a cracking example of how scrutiny can review a policy which could have had a devastating impact on our shopping centres,” he said.

“Haringey seemed totally unable to provide concrete evidence of how they assessed the impact of a 114 per cent rise in charges on the economic viability of these centres.”

Crouch End Traders Group member Chris Freeman – who attended the meeting – said: “I think it’s good news.

‘‘It’s common sense and I’m pleased that the cabinet reconsidered and will do an impact study – hopefully a common sense decision will be made in the end.”