Residents, businesses and church-goers in Enfield are dismayed at Labour-run Enfield Council's decision to introduce parking charges on Sundays and bank holidays in Enfield Town.
It comes after the Council also increased parking charges last April.
But now a coalition of local shops and busineses, residents, churches and residents' associations have united in oppostion to the Council's policy, which they aregue is damaging local businesses and threatening jobs.
Nick is giving his full support to the campaign and urging people to sign the petition started by Conservative councillors. You can sign the petition here.
The paper copy of the petition is generating thousands of signatures.
The aim is to demonstrate to Labour councillors the strength of feeling in the borough and, for the sake of local businesses and jobs, force them to change course.
Keep up to date with the campaign by checking the latest news below.
At last night's Full Council meeting, Labour-run Enfield Council voted down a motion to abolish Sunday parking charges.
Conservative councillors had put forward a proposal to scrap Sunday parking charges, imposed on residents by Enfield Council in January. Conservative councillors presented a petition with an incredible 7,500 signatures, and three representatives from the business community addressed councillors directly. The traders pleaded with Labour to abolish the charges: footfall has dropped 12% on Sundays compared to just 2.8% between Mondays and Saturdays.
Despite the overwhelming case in favour of abolishing the charges, which raise just £70,000 a year whilst hitting Enfield shops and businesses, Labour councillors chose to ignore residents and businesses and voted to keep Sunday parking charges. People in the public gallery shouted out "shame" when Labour councillors raised their hands to vote.
Conservative leader Cllr Michael Lavender said, "We're disappointed for Enfield. Sunday parking charges are hurting our borough's businesses and shops and therefore threatening jobs, but the Labour administration won't listen. We will carry on opposing the policy for the sake of the borough".
An online petition against the charges can be signed here.
Nick said, "The case against Sunday parking charges is staring Labour councillors in the face, but they are choosing to look the other way. These charges are hurting local shops and businesses, are unfair to church-goers and need to be abolished before the damage done to the Enfield economy is permanent".
This morning Nick spoke in the House of Commons to highlight how Labour-run Enfield Council has failed to collect nearly £5million in outstanding penalty charge notices, and yet plans to raise parking charges and hit law-abiding residents and hard-working businesses.
Speaking during Business Questions, Nick said, "May we have a statement from a Local Government Minister on the performance of councils with respect to revenue collection? The Leader of the House will be as shocked as I am that Labour Enfield council has failed to collect £4.9 million in unpaid penalty charge notices since 2010 and yet, despite that, it is putting up parking charges which are harming our town centre and introducing new charges on a Sunday."
Leader of the House, Sir George Young, replied that this was an issue Nick had raised on several occasions, and urged residents to attend the Full Council meeting in Enfield on Wednesday 4 July at which the issue of parking charges would be discussed.
He said, "I understand my hon. Friend's concern, which he has expressed on several occasions at business questions. I understand that a meeting is taking place in Enfield on 4 July and I encourage residents who are opposed to what is planned to come along to that meeting. So far as the Government are concerned, we have removed the policy of setting charges to discourage the use of cars and we have introduced the policy that parking enforcement should be proportionate but, crucially, we expect local authorities to have regard to the impact of parking charges on businesses in the town centre. I commend my hon. Friend for the vigorous campaign that he has launched."
Enfield Conservatives have launched a campaign video, which you can also view in the top right of the screen.
Businesses in Enfield Town have called for the council to scrap Sunday parking charges after a 20 per cent drop in trade. Traders spoken to by the Enfield Independent said the charges introduced by Enfield Council last month – which are the same as weekday prices except for a special £1 rate for two hours parking – were causing shoppers to flock to out-of-town centres where they could park for free.
A petition launched by Conservative councillors calling for 20 minutes free on-street parking and a reversal of Sunday charges has gained more than 210 signatures online, and hundreds more on paper versions distributed in shops in the town centre.
Chris Theodoulou, who has run Emma Claire hairdressers in Church Street for 36 years, said the council had "committed political suicide" because the reaction from his customers had been so strong.
He said: "Our rates have gone up, the parking's gone up – all the good they did for the town centre after the riots has been destroyed.
"We all understand that they need to charge for parking but be fair – reduce our rates or make it free to park after 4pm because it's a ghost town come 5pm.
"We were thinking of opening on Sundays but we won't now. We used to open late four nights a week before all this but we've cut that to one."
His comments were echoed by Aaron Pudney, deputy manager of Waitrose in Palace Gardens Shopping Centre, who said the store's takings had been cut by 20 per cent on Sundays since the charges – that could put £100,000 a year in the council's coffers – were introduced on January 8.
He added: "The council needs to think of other ways it could make that £100,000 a year – we'd even be willing to pay them a fee with other businesses to make up that amount because we'd be better off doing that.
A priest has hit out at the council – claiming his congregation numbers have dropped because of Sunday parking charges introduced last month. Father Slawomir Witon, of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St George Church in London Road, said that since charges were introduced last month, members of his congregation had flocked to neighbouring parishes where they did not have to pay to park.
Enfield Council introduced similar charges to weekday prices for drivers parking in the town centre on Sundays last month amid criticism from Conservative councillors and MPs, traders and motorists.
Fr Witon said: "I do feel that for churchgoers and their families it's just too expensive – some of them have decided to move to neighbouring parishes.
"I think it's unfair for people to be put in the position where money becomes an object for people to come to church."
He added that the reduced rate to park for one hour was ineffective because the church service lasted around two hours, and the council had carried out "very little consultation at all" with church leaders.
Conservative councillors have launched a petition against the move – which could make around £100,000 a year for the council – in a bid to gain the 2,700 signatures needed to force another debate in full council.
Conservative deputy leader, Councillor Henry Lamprecht, said the charges were "absolutely and purely about money".
He said: "The whole motivation behind this is money despite what the council says about the turnover of parking spaces.
"The aim of our petition is to get enough signatures so we can bring this issue back to the council and have another debate and force them to think again."
Churches in Enfield Town have claimed they were not consulted about the introduction of Sunday parking charges and want the move reversed. Enfield Council introduced similar charges to weekday prices for drivers parking in the town centre on Sundays last month amid criticism from Conservative councillors and MPs, traders and motorists.
Councillor Chris Bond (Lab), cabinet member for environment, told the Enfield Independent in December that he agreed with churches and traders to implement the plan in the first week of January.
But Nancy Hands, deputy chair of Enfield Town and Forty Hill Churches, said all of the ministers in Enfield Town had made it clear that they were not consulted by the council.
She said: "None of them were approached or consulted by Cllr Bond or anyone else on this subject, and there's been absolutely nothing from the council since we complained.
"None of us voted for this and the churches have already seen the effects on their congregations, with a significantly lower number of people attending than usual.
"There's a pretty strong groundswell of opinion against this."
The partnership represents Enfield Baptist Church, Enfield Citadel of the Salvation Army, Jesus Church in Forty Hill, Our Lady of Mt Carmel & St George, St Andrew's Parish Church, Trinity Church, Enfield and St John Methodist Church.
The Enfield Independent understands that Conservative councillors are planning to start a petition calling for the reversal of the charges, which could make up to £100,000 for the council.
CONSERVATIVE councillors failed in their bid to end the controversial new Sunday parking charges, which were introduced in Enfield town earlier this month.
At Wednesday's full council meeting Terry Neville slammed the council's "flawed" decision to press ahead with the scheme which he claimed could cripple Enfield high street as shoppers flock to large, out-of-town shopping centres with free parking.
But in a move likely to infuriate residents, traders and shoppers Labour remained adamant that the tariffs are here to stay.
Councillor Del Goddard dismissed the opposition's argument that the sky-high cost of parking was driving people from town centres adding that the woes of the high street had to be looked at "in context".
His tough stance on the controversial issue was echoed by leader of the council Doug Taylor who pointed to the VAT hike and the poor state of the national economy as the main reasons high streets are struggling.
But as the debate grew increasingly heated Terry Neville hit out at Labour's arguments and pointed out that the out-of-town stores have to cope with exactly the same pressures, but still seemed to be doing much better than their town-centre counterparts.
He concluded his attack on the Labour decisions by calling for a vote on the issue.
But this plea was shrugged off by Mr Goddard who told the councillor: "taking it to a vote would not be constructive".
Labour's determination to keep the tariffs, which will swell council coffers by as much as £100,000 meant the motion was easily defeated by 31 to 23.
A PARLIAMENTARY debate into the future of Britain's high streets will be held next week, days after Sunday parking charges were introduced in Enfield Town. Enfield North MP Nick de Bois a debate in the House of Commons earlier this afternoon, after charges largely the same as weekday prices to park in the town centre's car parks and pay-and-display bays were introduced earlier this week.
Traders and MPs hit out at the plan after it was revealed by the Enfield Independent last month, just after an independent review by retail expert Mary Portas into the future of high streets recommended "affordable town centre car parking".
Mr de Bois asked Leader of the House Sir George Young to grant "a debate on why Enfield's Labour council has persisted with massive increases in parking charges, including the introduction of Sunday parking, against the wishes of shopkeepers and church-goers".
He added: "With Brookfield Shopping Centre a short drive away, our high street shops need controlled free parking in order to compete with this and other out-of-town shopping centres."
Tuesday's debate in Parliament will look more broadly at the recommendations from Ms Portas' report, but a key feature of it will be parking charges by local councils.