Final preparations are being made for the annual Barnet Christmas Fayre on Sunday 3 December which will fill the High Street with over 100 stalls and feature a wide variety of seasonal events and attractions in nearby venues around the town centre.
The fayre will open at 12 noon when the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Nagus Narenthira, cuts a red ribbon with the assistance of the band of Barnet Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Association and members of The Bull Theatre Players.
Organisers say their aim is to create a free fun day out for the wider community and give local groups the chance to entertain residents and promote their work.
Shopkeepers and traders who do all they can to support the event -- and who are hoping there will be bumper crowds this year – say they are confused and somewhat alarmed by news on Barnet Council’s website that charges are being introduced for Sunday parking.
High Barnet’s three council car parks – in Stapylton Road, Moxon Street and Fitzjohn Avenue – have always had free Sunday parking but a link to the festive parking details on the Barnet First website says charges will apply on the four Sundays in December – December 3, 10, 17 and 24 – to all the council’s car parks and pay-to-park bays.
In a change of policy – and instead of the usual concession of free parking on all four Saturdays in December – the council now says that for the 2023 festive season there will be 50% off parking charges for every weekend in December up until Christmas on both Saturdays and Sundays.
Michael and Alice Kentish, proprietors of a High Street favourite, the Hopscotch traditional sweet shop, say they hope there has been a mistake and that charges will not apply as stated on Sunday 3 December, the day of the fayre.
“We can’t believe this is correct. All the car parks and parking bays in and around High Barnet say charges only apply Monday to Saturday.
“But now the website says there will be charges on Sundays. It is hardly sending out the right message in the week running up to the Christmas fayre.
“What is even more annoying and disappointing is that Barnet Council is removing free parking on December Saturdays which has always been so important to town centre trade.
“Offering motorists, the chance to park at half price is just a nonsense.
“Making parking half price will only sow seeds of confusion as every visitor will assume it is free to park on December Saturdays as it has been for many years previously. This will result in a ticketing fest for the traffic wardens!
“It does not matter whether it is 20p or £2 to park – the fact that people have to pay will put them off from coming to our high streets. This will be such a disincentive, particularly amongst the elderly who find pay-by-phone highly challenging.
“If this change goes ahead Brent Cross and the big out of town businesses will win yet again at the expense of our struggling high streets.
“Please re-visit your decision before even more council publicity goes out!”
At the other end of Barnet High Street, Donna Reynolds at Boutique and Bakes, said the free parking concession on December Saturdays was so important in the lead-up to Christmas.
“People really do make use of it and if charges do apply on December Saturdays and Sundays, we will lose trade.
“We have already lost out following the introduction of ULEZ because some people in Potters Bar and all around in Hertfordshire are turning their back on Barnet.”
In addition to a vast selection of craft and food stalls in the High Street, there will be the usual children’s funfair, and a display of vintage vehicles by members of the Barnet Classic Car Club.
Other venues include:
The Christmas Courtyard on the forecourt of Barnet and Southgate College will feature the Susi Earnshaw Weekend Theatre School, the N12 Community Choir, and members of London Youth Concert Band.
The Bull Theatre will present two performances of Barbie Ville’s Christmas Adventure.
St John the Baptist parish church will feature performances by the Big Choir, BEAT Music Academy, N12 Community Choir, and the Barnet Band.
Christmas Cafe, Wesley Hall: craft stalls, dancing circles, the Pleasant Cheshunt Jazz Band, and the Ukulele Band.
The Spires: performances will include music throughout the day from the Barnet Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Association Band, members of the London Youth Concert Band and buskers from Al Pascal Music.