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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Is Encouraging Car use the Best Way for Haringey Council to Support Small Business Saturday?

Photo: Hugh Flouch

I'm all for our council supporting Small Business Saturday, but I'm utterly unconvinced the provision free parking for the day as the main plank of its support is the right thing for Haringey Council to do.

Firstly, it encourages driving in a borough where traffic is already a big problem.

Secondly it sends out the message that small businesses rely on car use to thrive - as far as I'm aware that's not true.

Is this just an easy (yet misguided) way for Haringey to support a good initiative. I thought there might more imaginative solutions. The first page of a Google search on 'council support small business saturday' includes announcements on Small Business Saturday by seven councils including Enfield, Merton, Brent, Dudley, Portsmouth, Poole and Mid-Ulster. Five use free parking as their main plank of support. Only Poole and Mid-Ulster don't offer free parking. The last of these seems the post imaginative offering in five towns a 'free family fun and street entertainment in each of the five towns mentioned from 12noon – 2pm including, face painting, balloon modelling and street performances'.

I bet our public transport is much better than MId-Ulster's.

C'mon Haringey. Please do better next year.

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Turns out the free parking was at the request of the traders and the council hadn't put any thought into whether it would be a plus or not


I've said it numerous times over the years but whilst the traders on Green Lanes hold so much sway there will never be the political will to improve Green Lanes for the residents (or anyone other than car drivers). I think the nadir was when they were pushing for the bus lane to be removed for more parking (which fortunately TFL saw off) but we've clearly not moved on much.

Thanks for this, really interesting response, especially;

"No research has been carried out on the impact of the parking concession.  However, SBS overall is monitored and all high street trader groups involved have reported increased footfall, improved consumer spend and positive engagement by local residents in the initiative."

Which is contrary to the actual research which shows reducing parking availability and improving the experience of visiting for pedestrians and cyclists leads to a dramatic uptick in footfall and turnover.

When Waltham Forest, prior to creating their mini-Holland schemes, surveyed shop owners and shoppers, it was clear that shop owners vastly (x2) over-estimate the percentage of customers arriving by car, and valued easy parking much more than actual shoppers. Similar results found in Toronto and New York. But Haringey is special, clearly.

Look hard at what he actually says “SBS (Small Business Saturday) is monitored overall ....”  

When the scheme was announced (it national) I looked at what some other places were doing.  They included free bus services to shopping areas, street closures, street entertainment, pavement cafe tables moved on to roads, celebrity appearances.  In other words, tons of stuff that would make people come to an area which of course improved footfall when a local authority pulled its finger out and did something interesting for people to enjoy.  We get free f***ing parking.

I suspect when they say "overall" they do mean Haringey. However, I suspect that when they say "monitored" it means a few traders have said to them, that was good, same again next year.

And I suspect that traders are very interested in the opportunity to park their own vehicles without charge. 

Some real data on this that shows the balance of loss of iparking income versus increased takings would seem a good idea. What happened to the idea of evidence based decision instead of relying on hearsay?



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