Saturday, 30 November 2013

Barnet Council (finally) invites you to have your say - 9 December

In what appears to be a genuine attempt to understand the concerns of Barnet residents, the Council has appointed a research company to hold some focus groups with residents to discuss parking issues in the borough (High Street and other parking as well as residents parking). 

They are specifically looking for a number of our supporters to attend a group on Monday 9 December in Whetsone from 4.30pm  to 6pm.  The group will comprise 8 residents so there should be plenty of opportunity to put your views across.

If you are interested in taking part, please email us at We will pass your details on to the research company (Alpha Research) who will then be in touch direct.

If you are interested in participating but can't make the session on 9 December, please also contact us as other sessions may become available.

Other news:

We are still waiting for the payment of our legal costs by Barnet Council to be finalised so that we can begin the process of repaying what we can to supporters who made donations of £20 or more. There is progress on this front but realistically the issue may not be resolved until the new year because Barnet are (understandably) subjecting the legal fees we incurred to a good deal of scrutiny.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Are you in a similar situation? And Barnet aren't following the spirit of the judgment.

Problems with other Councils

We've received many emails from people up and down the country letting us know of problems they are experiencing with their councils. Often people are seeking our advice on what they should do. It's clear that many councils are alienating residents through their actions, particularly over parking.

We're sorry but we're not able to provide advice about other situations. In part, this is due to time constraints but also because each situation is unique and usually complex. We would however just make the following points:

1. If you are thinking of challenging parking charges imposed by your council, look to see if there is actual hard evidence that the council is motivated by raising revenue. We won our case against Barnet Council, and felt confident enough to bring it, because of clear undisputed evidence that the council raised parking charges for the minority residents in CPZs in order to raise money and thereby keep the council tax down. Other challenges against Westminster and Camden failed because there wasn't this sort of clear evidence of revenue raising.

2. In most cases, the way to challenge the actions of your council is to bring a judicial review action. This is a legal action brought in the High Court. These need to be brought promptly, within three months at most of the decision which you are challenging having been taken.  High Court actions are also costly (tens of thousands of pounds at least) and recent changes mean that you are now unlikely to take advantage of a "no win, no fee" agreement with your solicitors in order to help bring a claim.

Barnet don't follow the spirit of the judgment

A supporter has told us that Barnet are refusing to reimburse residents who bought half day visitor vouchers for £2.20 even though the effect of the Court ruling is that residents should only have been charged £1 for a whole day.

Strictly Barnet may be right in that half day vouchers (introduced a year after the other increases), were not technically part of the legal action. But surely if the effect of the court ruling is to reduce the cost of a full day voucher to £1, the Council should follow the spirit of the judgment and also reimburse people who bought half day vouchers so that they too only pay £1?    

Friday, 4 October 2013

Update: 4 October 2013

Progress towards sorting out the costs of the legal action is, unfortunately, very slow.

Although Barnet Council has been ordered to pay the costs of the legal action, this may take months to resolve.  This is because the losing party in litigation (in this case Barnet) invariably wants to scrutinise the legal costs of the winning party (David Attfield) carefully,  and may want to challenge aspects of the legal bill.   If the amount to be paid cannot be agreed, this will have to be referred to a specialist costs judge to resolve.

We are of course committed to repaying as much of the donated money as we can but are unable to do so until we receive from Barnet the money we have had to pay out (in particular the cost of the premium of the legal costs insurance we took out which is how most of the donated money was spent).

The delay in sorting out how much of the donated money can be returned is frustrating but please bear with us.

Also, a reminder:   Barnet Council will not be contacting households who are entitled to be refunded the amount that they have been over-charged for parking permits and visitor vouchers over the past couple of years.  You have to apply to the council for a refund.

Here is what you need to know:

What can be reclaimed?

Only the additional cost to the price of residents's parking permits and visitor vouchers can be reclaimed.  So, if you purchased 10 visitor vouchers at £4 each, you can claim £30 since you should have been charged £1 for each voucher or £10 in total. 

If you have paid £100 for your parking permit in 2011 and in 2012, then you can claim £120 since you should have been charged only £40 in each of 2011 and 2012.

How do I claim? 

You should fill out an e-form on Barnet Council’s website, providing details of your name, telephone number, address, permit ID, if they have it, and car registration number.
Alternatively,  you can email the council at
Or write to Parking Team, CPZ Parking Refunds, London Borough of Barnet, Building 4, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP.    

This link will take you to the Council's website where you can access the e-form.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

We won, but what now?


In light of the High Court ruling that Barnet Council's 2011 CPZ price increases were unlawful, the Council has said it will reimburse residents who have been overcharged.

However, the Council will not be automatically refunding residents who have been overcharged. Residents will need to submit a claim to the Council.

What can be reclaimed?

Only the additional cost to the price of residents's parking permits and visitor vouchers can be reclaimed. So, if you purchased 10 visitor vouchers at £4 each, you can claim £30 since you should have been charged £1 each or £10.

If you have paid £100 for your parking permit in 2011 and in 2012, then you can claim £120 since you should have been charged only £40 in each of 2011 and 2012.

How do I claim? 

You should fill out an e-form on Barnet Council’s website, providing details of their name, telephone number, address, permit ID, if they have it, and car registration number.
Alternatively, they can email the council at
Or write to Parking Team, CPZ Parking Refunds, London Borough of Barnet, Building 4, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP.    

This link will take you to the Council's website where you can access the e-form.

Money Donated to Barnet CPZ Action

Barnet Council have been ordered to pay David Attfield's legal costs which we hope will enable us to return larger donations (£20 or more) at least in part. However, the process of assessing and agreeing how much the Council should pay can take weeks or even months, so please be patient.

It is unlikely that all of the legal costs will be recovered from Barnet as there may be technical reasons why the council will argue that they shouldn't have to pay some elements of the legal costs incurred. Also, we incurred significant costs running our campaign, in particular for printing leaflets. Barnet will not be paying these.  All this means unfortunately that, for the moment, we do not know how much of the donated money we will be able to return.

We will of course keep you updated.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Council accepts Court ruling: CPZ charges revert to pre-increase levels

The Leader of Barnet Council, Richard Cornelius, confirmed today that the Council will not appeal against last week's High Court ruling which found the Council's 2011 CPZ price increases to be unlawful.  He also apologised for the fact that the CPZ increases were implemented without going through the proper process. You can read the council's statement here:

This is great news for everyone who has supported our campaign and puts an end to the legal uncertainty following last week's High Court victory.  It means that:

  • Barnet's CPZ charges will revert back to their pre-increase levels (£40 for a permit and £1 for a visitor voucher)
  • Residents will be able to claim refunds of the amount that they have been overcharged for permits and visitor vouchers. Details of how to do this are set out in the council's  statement:
  • Realistically, before long, the Council will want to introduce new price increases since the charges have now reverted back to what they were in 2006.  But we trust the council to take heed of the High Court judgment and that residents will not face the prospect of a £4 charge for a visit that may last only 30 minutes. 
  • The Council will pay David Attfield's legal costs, enabling donated money to be returned at least in part. This will take time, so please bear with us. 
Our fight has drawn to a successful conclusion.  In large part this is due to the support and encouragement of the hundreds of people who have backed our campaign.  Indeed, without the financial backing we received, it simply would not have been possible to pursue a legal action against the Council.  Thank you to everyone who has helped bring this about.

Whilst we are celebrating our success, we are also mindful that the Council has a large logistical exercise to undertake and that there will be financial consequences for the Council.  We would  encourage people to be patient in their applying for refunds - we are sure the Council will be doing all they can to deal with these efficiently.  We also sincerely hope that the Council's contingency planning means that it can deal with this set back without an impact on services.  But the truth is that the Council is the author of its misfortune and had opportunities along the way to resolve this issue at considerably less inconvenience and cost to it.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Media and our Petition

      • You may be interested to hear that David will be on today's Jeremy Vine Radio Two Show at 1.30pm in case you are in a position to listen. 

      • As you know, Barnet may file an Appeal by the end of this week. Let's show them that residents do not want their hard earned money wasted on this course of action, and they should accept the Judgment given on 22nd July by Mrs Justice Lang DBE. If you have not yet signed the petition, you can do so here This is not limited to Barnet residents, so please ask all your friends, family, neighbours, colleagues to get on and sign. This is people power in motion. We need thousands of signatures. 

            Friday, 26 July 2013

            If you were angry before, you'll be livid after reading this

            We've got two pieces of important news: 

            Council spent money fighting parking challenge that it considered "likely" it would it would lose.  Meanwhile it raked in millions it believed would likely to be declared unlawful.

            Council reports show that Barnet Council considered it likely that it would lose the legal challenge brought by resident David Attfield over its unfair residents' parking charges.  Yet it chose in our opinion:  

            • To waste over £100,000 in legal costs
            • To carry on claiming unlawful parking charges for nearly two years
            • And exposed David Attfield to enormous personal financial risk and stress
            The reports, described as Corporate Performance Indicators, highlight major risks that the Council faces in its delivery of Environment, Planning and Regeneration services. In a number of reports (including the earliest and most recent reports), the Council acknowledges that it is "likely" to lose the judicial review action (see for example page 15 of the Environment, Planning and Regeneration report for Quarter 1, 2011/2012).  

            When this was pointed out to the Council and they were asked to justify why they had fought the legal action, they replied that they had prudently taken a "pessimistic" view in these reports.

            Amazingly, according to the Council Leader, the Council "has no alternative but to look to appeal the decision".  This opinion is totally against what the trial Judge, Mrs Justice Lang DBE stated in her conclusions, that an appeal would have "no real prospect of success".

            There is an 'alternative', Barnet - accept you got these charges wrong, give up your hopeless resistance, refund the money, find a fairer way to fund the road maintenance budget and let us all move on! 

            Petition launched urging Council to accept High Court Ruling 

            If you think that it's time the council refunded the money it unlawfully claimed from you these past two years.

            And if you think that the Council will simply waste more public money by appealing against the ruling and that this will unjustly expose David Attfield to further legal costs and stress.

            Then please sign our petition urging the Council to do the right thing and accept the emphatic High Court ruling that has been made against it. 

            You can sign the petition using this link:

            You can tell Richard Cornelius, the Council Leader what you think at at 
            You can contact Dean Cohen,the Cabinet Member responsible for parking at
            Please also tell your MP what you think
            Mike Freer (Finchley and Golders green)
            Matthew Offard (Hendon)
            Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet)

            Please sign.  Please write.  It will send a powerful message to the council to end this madness.

            Tuesday, 23 July 2013

            Details of our victory...and what happens now

            What the Judge ruled

            The High Court ruling is a complete vindication of our position. In a strong judgment, Mrs Justice Lang DBE concluded: 
            • That parking charges can be a significant cost for residents living in a CPZ, particularly where the hours are long or the residents have a low income
            • That the charges apply only to around 8% of residents 
            • That the Council was motivated by maximising income from CPZ residents to ease financial pressures on the Council
            • That councils should only be able to deliberately profit from residents where Parliament has very clearly allowed this.
            • In this case, the legislation did not allow councils to use parking charges in order to maximise income.
            • An increase in parking charges needs to serve a parking management purpose (e.g. to counter increased costs or to control demand for parking spaces).
            • This interpretation of the law is also supported by two earlier High Court decisions.       

            What happens next?

            Unless the Council brings a successful appeal, charges will revert to what they were before the rises (£40 for a permit and £1 for a visitor voucher) and residents will be entitled to a refund of the amounts that they have been overcharged.   

            We do not know yet if Barnet will try to appeal. They will need permission in order to bring an appeal but this was not granted by Mrs Justice Lang who said that an appeal would have "no real prospect of success".  But Barnet may still ask the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal. 

            We would urge the council not to bring an appeal. An appeal would delay residents receiving the refunds to which they are entitled, would waste more money on legal fees and would expose David Attfield to enormous financial risk in respect of the Council's legal costs.

            We would like all of our supporters to tell the Council, their local councillors and their MP that there is no justification in the Council continuing a legal fight that it has comprehensively lost. We will suggest ways for how you can do this in our next update. 

            Monday, 22 July 2013

            WE WON!

            Further details will follow.

            In the meantime here is some media coverage our campaign has received today.

            BBC News - Car permit victory for campaigners
            ITV News - Rolling commentary through the day
            London Evening Standard - Councils can't use parking to raise revenues
            Times Series - Barnet Council used CPZ money for 'illegal and immoral purposes'
            Ham & High - Landmark High Court ruling deems Barnet Council CPZ charges ‘unlawful’
            Barnet Today -  CPZ price hike unlawful, says High Court judge
            This is Local London -Barnet's Labour group welcomes High Court ...
            The Guardian - Barnet residents win high court fight...
            Daily Mail - Motorists win landmark judgement ...

            and the actual judgement.

            Friday, 19 July 2013

            Judgment Day: Monday 22 July

            The High Court will give its ruling on the legality of Barnet Council's CPZ charges on Monday 22 July.

            The Judgment will be given by Mrs Justice Lang at 10.00 am in Court 37 of the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL

            We will post the result here as soon as it is available.  

            Wednesday, 3 July 2013

            High Court Judge hears our claim

            A number of supporters spent a tense  day in the High Court on 2 July as our legal challenge to Barnet's absurd CPZ parking charges was finally presented.

            The hearing was before Mrs Justice Lang who appeared fully engaged with the case. In summary, our argument was:

            • The CPZ increases were motivated purely by Barnet's desire to generate more income which it could spend on transport projects, primarily paying for concessionary fares.
            • This is shown in numerous council documents.  Indeed, Barnet do not deny that this is what they were doing.
            • We say that this is unlawful and that the legislation that allows councils to charge for parking was never intended to be used by councils simply to maximise profits.
            • Our interpretation, we say, is supported by two earlier legal cases: In both, the court held that councils needed to have a genuine reason for imposing charges, such as the need to control demand for parking.
            • But Barnet say that a need to raise money in hard times is in itself a genuine, lawful reason.  

            The Ham & High newspaper have also published a report about the hearing.

            Mrs Justice Lang is expected to deliver her judgment in the next couple of weeks.

            Monday, 1 July 2013

            COURT HEARING - 2ND JULY 2013

            Here are the details for tomorrow's hearing:

            We are in Court 22 of the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL.


            The hearing will be before Mrs Justice Lang DBE and is due to start at 10.30am.  However, there may be another matter that will be heard first, so we may have to wait a little.

            For those who are able to attend all or part of the hearing, I think it should be quite interesting, but please remember no photographs in the court building.

            The Ham & High would like to do a photo shoot at 10am on the steps of the court.  If it is convenient, we would welcome anyone who can come along - the stronger our presence the better.

            Friday, 28 June 2013

            The Final Countdown and a Final Appeal

            The papers are all filed, our arguments have been honed and we are ready to take on Barnet Council in the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand on Tuesday 2 July.

            Our case in a nutshell

            After two years of legal to-ing and fro-ing, the case has boiled down to on one point arising in one piece of legislation.  Essentially the question is "can a Council deliberately target CPZ residents in order to pay for other transport projects?" 

            Our answer is "no!". A parking charge must be set to reflect local parking demand and the cost of administering the parking scheme.  If it happens to make a profit, then that profit can be spent on other projects.  But you can't set charges simply to meet a profit target you have plucked out of the air.  In our case, Barnet found that they had a £1.8 million hole in their budget when they decided at the last minute not to introduce new traffic cameras.  Their answer: Simply hike CPZ charges by whatever amount was needed to fill that gap.

            Barnet say that they use parking to raise revenue.  Because a council is allowed to spend parking profits on other  transport projects, Parliament must have intended councils to be able to hike charges deliberately in order to pay for other projects.

            The case is likely to have significant repercussions for how parking charges are set in the future since no other council  has been so bold as to argue that parking can be used deliberately as a revenue raiser.

            We still need need your donations

            A final appeal: we've received hundreds of donations and many thousands of pounds to help ensure that, should the legal action fail, money is available to pay Barnet's  legal costs.  But Barnet have estimated that their costs will be £50,000 and we still have a significant shortfall, leaving David Attfield personally exposed should he lose.

            We urge every CPZ resident to make a donation if they can. If David Attfield wins, CPZ households could save hundreds of pounds in future and Barnet have promised to refund people who have paid the inflated charges over the past two years.  Please, make a donation now.

            To all our supporters and donors, thank you.  We wouldn't have got this far without you.

            Saturday, 22 June 2013


            Tomorrow, Sunday, the East Finchley Festival will be held in Cherry Tree Woods, opposite East Finchley underground station.

            Weather permitting, this promises to be a great family and community event.  The festival has been running for many years and has two performance stages, one at each end of the park, with various acts and live music going on all afternoon.  There are plenty of attractions for children and stalls serving delicious food from around the world and, most importantly for some, there is the "drinks tent"!

            The BARNET CPZ ACTION team will be together with our own stall for the last time before our Court day on 2nd July, so do come along and meet us (in case you haven't already) and join in the fun.  There is likely to be a film crew there who are documenting the parking problems generally, so we want to show we are a force to be reckoned with!

            We would especially welcome any of our supporters to come along and give us a hand for an hour or so on the stall.  Any help would be very much appreciated, so let us know if you can come and give a hand with our games and lucky dip.

            You can find out more about the East Finchley Festival on their Facebook page.

            Please note that the Northern Line has planned engineering works in operation, but replacement buses are available.

            We hope you can come along.

            Thursday, 13 June 2013

            The Final Push - New Leaflet

            We are currently in the process of urgently distributing our new leaflet, reminding people of the trial on 2nd July and making a final appeal for funds.   Barnet CPZs cover a huge area, so in case we don't get to you or your neighbours here's a copy which you may want to print and stick in your window, forward to your Neighbourhood Watch Officer,  Community Group or anyone you know living within a controlled parking zone.

            Wednesday, 5 June 2013

            BBC 1 Documentary Makers Want To Hear From You

            The campaign to overturn Barnet's unfair CPZ parking charges will feature prominently in a documentary TV programme being made for BBC 1 about parking.   The programme makers will follow the campaign in its final stages up to the trial of the legal action on 2nd July and want to hear of the experiences and views of Barnet residents.  

            They are urgently looking for a number of contributors to appear in the programme.  Perhaps you could explain how you and your family have been affected by the charges?  Or how you have campaigned against them?  The programme is being made over the course of the next few weeks and the makers will be able to meet you at a time and place convenient for you. 

            If you might like to appear in the programme, please email us at for more information. 

            Sunday, 2 June 2013

            What We Have Achieved So Far.

            The Barnet CPZ Action group has been quite quiet over the past months while we wait for next month's court hearing, so we thought we'd remind you of some of the things we have achieved:

            1. It took a long time, but, back in the autumn, the Council made an important concession when they introduced half day visitor vouchers.  Priced at £2.20 each, they are still expensive - some residents in neighboring boroughs pay as little as 60p for visitor parking.  But £2.20 is a lot better that £4.16.  For residents living in zones with 1 hour restrictions, the cost of visitor parking has been nearly halved.

            2. The council has also not implemented some additional CPZ increases put forwarded by Councillor Brian Coleman before he lost his cabinet position on the council.  Councillor Coleman wanted to make CPZ residents pay £20 when they changed their car as well as wanting to charge for temporary parking dispensations when, for example, a resident uses a courtesy car for a few days.  Following Brian Coleman's emphatic defeat at the London Assembly elections, the Council realised that these unfair policies risked bringing the council into the disrepute.

            3. Anger over Brain Coleman's damaging parking policies (remember he also hiked parking charges on the High Street and removed "pay and display" machines) were a major factor behind his London Assembly defeat.

            4. We learnt that the CPZ charges the council introduced were far higher than those recommended by its own consultants who the council had appointed to advise on this very question.

            5. Did Barnet Council think that, because CPZs are spread out across disparate parts of the borough, there wouldn't be any effective opposition to the charges?  If so, they were wrong.  Our campaign has united CPZ residents, and many non-CPZ residents, from all corners of the borough.

            6. The campaign has featured on national and local TV and radio and in the national and local press. We've helped raise awareness of the problems CPZ residents face through being a captive market.  

            7. We've assembled a quality legal team to take the case forward under "no-win, no fee" agreements, reflecting their confidence in the case.  Thanks to a supporter who obtained internal council papers under the Freedom of Information Act, we also learnt that the council are confident WE will win. Council papers record  a Barnet CPZ Action victory at court to be "likely".  

            Sunday, 17 March 2013

            Let the Government know what you think of Barnet's parking policies

            The Transport Select Committee of the House of Commons has issued a consultation asking what people think about local authority parking policies. We suspect there may be a disproportionate response from Barnet residents.

            Anyone can submit their views but this will need to be done by Monday 25 March.  Details of the consultation can be found here. 

            Among the issues that Barnet residents may wish to raise are:

            • The unfairness of CPZ residents being held to ransom by huge increases in permit charges, knowing that the council is deliberately creating a huge financial surplus in order to  help pay for travel passes and road resurfacing for the whole borough. 
            • The folly of removing all cash pay and display ticket machines, making the simple act of parking to pop into a shop inconvenient and confusing for many people.
            • Hiking high street parking charges to levels more suited to city centres or inner London boroughs. This has been done at a time when other councils (such as Haringey) are introducing free parking for short periods in order to support their high streets.
            Whatever your views, it's important that they are heard. Please find 30 minutes before 25 March in order to take part.

            Don't forget: You can now buy half day visitor vouchers

            Under pressure from angry residents, the Council introduced half day visitor vouchers last year at a cost of £2.20 each. Still VERY expensive but better than the absurd flat charge of £4.16 for a standard voucher!  Residents in zones which operate for just one or two hours a day will now only need these cheaper vouchers.

            But reports reach us that residents are having difficulty selecting these cheaper vouchers when they apply online or on the phone. We are trying to get to the bottom of what the problem is but it may be that Barnet's clunking IT system has residents registered as being entitled to all day vouchers and is defaulting to that.  We will update you when we know more but in the meantime, if you only need half day vouchers, make sure you don't pay the full price. Call 020 8359 7446 if in doubt.