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Conservatives question legality of parking charge hikes

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Conservatives are querying whether proposed hikes in parking charges of up to 100% are legal in the wake of a recent High Court judgement against Barnet London Borough Council.

Budget papers presented to the Council’s Policy & Resources Committee last month reveal that the Administration is seeking to raise £571k in extra revenue as a result of a “review of pay and display and permit tariffs”.

In 2013, a High Court Judge ruled that Barnet Council did not have the power under the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act “to charge local residents for parking in order to raise surplus revenue for other transport purposes” and added that it was not allowed “to budget for a surplus at any level which it considered appropriate in order to generate income for other transport purposes which it wished to fund.”

Group Transport Spokesman, Cllr. Graham Cox, said: “It is quite clear from the case law that it is unlawful for councils to set charges for the ‘express purpose of creating a surplus’ yet that is exactly what this Council is proposing through its latest price hikes. Interestingly, Barnet proposed raising the cost of their resident permits to £100, a level that the judge considered unlawful yet our residents are being expected to fork out £166 if they pay quarterly.”

Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, added: “I really think that the Council needs to be very careful. It is quite obvious to me that they are using charges and permits to help fill their Budget black hole and that is not allowed. Brighton & Hove has gained the unenviable reputation as a ‘rip-off city’ when it comes to parking charges and that is extremely damaging to local businesses. I would urge the Council in the strongest possible terms to think again.”