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If I may be permitted to preempt criticism:

Some will argue that this is a waste of money, that what we really need is better shops - lower rents, lower business rates, free parking.

Waste of money: These improvements are to be funded by TfL. If the money is not spent here it will not be available for our Council to spend in any other way to our benefit. Rather it will be spent by TfL to improve other town centres.

Lower rents: Properties along the High Street are in multiple private and corporate ownerships. If anyone believes that, having traced those owners, they will be able to persuade the majority (or any) to reduce their rents, good luck to them.

Lower business rates: Rateable values are determined by the central government Valuation Office. The Uniform Business Rate applies nationally.

Free parking: The Barnet Society, Love Barnet and local businesses have sought for many years to persuade the Council to introduce a period of free parking to compete with places like Borehamwood. Gail Laser (Love Barnet and BSoc Vice-chair) writes elsewhere:
"We have had petitions , been on the radio, on tv, in the press and I’m afraid that is one area that we just can’t sort. The Council will not agree to free High St parking and reluctantly gave us a free hour in Moxon Street, and 2 hours plus all afternoon free along Hadley Green. I’ve cried, I’ve argued, I’ve pleaded for the last six years. It just won’t happen, not in the immediate future. I am so sorry , and now we have to do the best that we can, and this is an offer we must take."

Given that none of these wish-list suggestions is a reality, let us at least take this opportunity to make our High Street a more attractive place for people to visit. And, you never know, it may even attract a few better shops!