6 December 2016

PCN - being aggressive could cost you

Mr Mustard fell over this recent tribunal decision today and would like to advise motorists to make their points strongly but not rudely as otherwise what you write (or say to a traffic warden) will come back to bite you on the bottom and could be costly.

The allegation in this case is that the vehicle was parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours. Mr. BadManners does not in fact dispute this but says that this was only in order to open his gates. He says that the Civil Enforcement Officer was only able to take photographs because she told him he had a minute to open the gate but that once warned he left immediately.

This is a case in which the Enforcement Authority rely on postal service of the PCN. A PCN may be served by post where a Civil Enforcement Officer had begun to prepare the PCN for service but the vehicle was driven away before the PCN could be served.

The Civil Enforcement Officer recorded that the driver was very aggressive and abusive. She tried to explain the rules but he drove away. The Enforcement Authority have provided photographs taken by the Civil Enforcement Officer which show the vehicle parked as alleged. I cannot see any evidence the driver was present when the photographs were taken.

The aggression and abuse recorded by the Enforcement Officer is consistent with the wholly unacceptable manner in which Mr. BadManners has conducted the correspondence in this case. Having considered all the evidence I am satisfied that the Enforcement Officer made a truthful and accurate record, that the contravention occurred and that the PCN was properly issued and served. I am not satisfied that any exemption applies.

Civil Enforcement Officers are entitled to go about their work without being abused by the drivers of illegally-parked vehicles, or indeed anyone else. In the circumstances of this case, including the tone of the details of appeal Mr. BadManners may consider himself fortunate I have not ordered him to pay costs in addition to the penalty charge.

You have been warned. Name changed to protect the not so innocent. The costs award would have been for wholly unreasonbable behaviour. Other reasons for costs awards are being vexatious or frivolous.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

3 December 2016

Blue Badges in Harrow - some leeway

Mr Mustard did not know that Harrow let you use a blue badge which is up to 14 days out of date. This is probably because it takes the pressure off them to renew in a hurry. In the instant case the blue badge was actually 19 days out of date.

This dispensation my exist in other boroughs so if you are waiting for your new badge you might as well put the old one out (even though technically it has no effect). The blue badge holder must be in the car when parked or is being collected soon after parking.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

30 November 2016

The drivel that councils spout (Barnet in this case)

section 86 TMA 2004
Barnet Council argue, in their submission to the tribunal, that the dropped kerb exists for the following reason:

This makes each and every dropped kerb in the borough, including the one in question which is not opposite another drop for pedestrians (and there is no tactile paving to inform the blind that it is a less unsafe place to cross) a dropped kerb for the purposes of issuing PCN, as far as Barnet Council / NSL are concerned. Unfortunately for them that does not provide a legal reason for issuing a PCN under the TMA 2004 as is printed on the PCN.

Is it really the case that wheelchair users, or parents with pushchairs, fancy leaving the safety of the pavement in order to progress along a busy carriageway (Friary Rd in this case) and then stay there as there isn't a point of easy exit opposite? No, it's drivel and designed to encourage motorists to pay rather than fight.

Mr Mustard is acting so we fight to the very end.

Reputational damage? mostly self inflicted by Barnet Council and/or their agent, NSL.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

25 November 2016

The Bunns Lane highway robber rides again

Regular readers will recall this location appearing in the Standard a year ago and after that PCN for being outside of the box simply stopped. In addition, greenspaces trimmed the hedges back and Mr Mustard did see some resurfacing equipment there a few months back so some tarmac upkeep may have occurred.

Thinking perhaps that everyone will have forgotten about the events of November 15, a modern day highway robber, kitted out in his/her NSL uniform and possible astride a white charger (scooter) and waving their paper bullet issuing HHC pistol (hand held computer) decided on 22 November 16 to give the above car a parking ticket. Now it could have been parked a little more tightly within the space but it isn't doing any harm as nothing or no-one parks or walks across the front of it.

This is a trivial contravention and one which a traffic warden should either walk past or helpfully leave a note asking the motorist to park more neatly in future. All that has happened is that the council have annoyed the motorist, the council have suffered more reputational damage, Mr Mustard has more work on his plate and the council will have to pay out £30 for the inevitable tribunal visit which 90%+ of the time goes Mr Mustard's way. The guidance from London Councils is that an entire wheel must be outside of the bay; it isn't.

The traffic warden has a high badge number, approaching 500 so is a newby (there is quite a bit of staff turnover) and has not appeared on Mr Mustard's radar before (he logs every PCN he tackles). The question arises as to how new traffic wardens are informed of all the particular contraventions and locations at which they should not issue PCN - they probably aren't.

Mr Mustard will ask parking management to kill this off. They must be sick of the trouble that NSL cause them. Outsourcing can mean out of control.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

24 November 2016

Reputation or revenue?

This car is doing zero harm, both obvious walkways are free from obstruction.
The council worry about the reputation of the parking department, which is one of the lowest for any council 'service', but they appear to worry more about raising revenue. The scene above is the latest profit centre that the midnight prowlers (traffic wardens) have hit upon as a great wheeze in order to get their ticket count up (Mr Mustard cannot rule out that the order came from their management).

Thus, in seeking out a good revenue stream, the council sent traffic wardens out at 3am and issue PCNs to cars which have been parked overnight in this way for the last 18 years, without any traffic management impact. The British public has an inbuilt sense of fairness. A PCN for a car parked like this is quite rightly seen as unfair. The council should use their commonsense and only issue a PCN if the householder requests action for obstruction of their access.

Mr Mustard thinks that one of the residents has put it better than him, viz:

Dear councillors

On Sunday morning, my neighbours and I, awoke to discover our cars had all been ticketed. We were parked on our driveway crossovers, where we’d parked our cars, without incident, some of us over 10 years.

All of the cars were parked within the crossovers, with none of their wheels encroaching or touching any path, grass or pavement. As such they were causing no obstruction whatsoever. Furthermore when these crossovers were installed, it was made clear that parking was permitted on the crossover, providing the wheels of the parked car did not extend beyond the crossover perimeters. We are therefore mystified and baffled, as to why we were given tickets at all?

As if this were not bad enough, upon closer examination we discovered that the tickets had all been issued at between 03:40 – 03:45 in the morning. We were all surprised and dismayed that the council’s representative was scurrying around in the wee hours of the morning, like a thief in the night, issuing tickets to unsuspecting residents.

We hope you will agree that this is not the behaviour or actions befitting a public sector worker, whose wages are paid, at least partly by our taxes. We strongly disapprove of this behaviour and hope that the council will instruct it’s representatives to desist from such unscrupulous behaviour in the future, not only for us, but for all residents of Barnet.

We hope that you will take a pragmatic view of this matter and agree that we are not blocking any footpath or pavement and are in no way interfering with the free passage of pedestrians.

As such we are keen to secure an assurance that, as promised when the crossovers were first installed, we are free to park our cars on the crossovers, with all the provisos stated above. To deny this will only lead to congestion in the surrounding streets, with all of us competing with the other residents, trying to park our cars there. It would also act as an encouragement, to those of us who have not paved over all of the greenery in our front gardens, to pave them. This, of course, would be contrary to environmental recommendations, urging urban populations to have more, not less, green space.

Thank you for your time in this matter, we look forward to hearing back from you as soon as possible, so as to alleviate the burden of this issue, which affects us daily. We are all now reluctant to park our cars, where we have always parked them, which is already contributing to congestion in the area, as well as stress to us personally.

Until this kind of money motivated PCN issuing stops, the reputation of Barnet Council when it comes to parking, will not improve.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Rapid update from council parking management:

NSL were instructed last week to cease enforcement in these situations unless the vehicle is obstructing the footway or shared use crossover.

This is the trouble with outsourcing. You can't stop the contractor from having his own (bad) ideas. Mr M.

Update at 16:14 on 24 November

The council parking management have cancelled the two PCN concerned and are talking to NSL this evening to instruct them that they do not wish for this time of enforcement to take place.

7 November 2016

Brent Council raking over old PCN for every last penny

can you remember what you were doing on 5 June 2012?
This letter from Brent, which is probably one of hundreds or thousands of them, is a desperate attempt to raise revenue from PCN which the council have themselves neglected to chase in a timely manner.

They need to take heed of this adjudication decision (one of a dozen similar ones which Mr Mustard knows of) 

Mr Mustard will make a complaint to the monitoring officer.

What you should do if you get one of these missives is to write and demand the date and destination of every statutory document so that you can work out what went wrong in the process. If the council left your PCN to rot at any stage for more than 6 months they should follow the guidance of London Councils (and the adjudication decision which is persuasive) and write off the PCN.

You would be justified in filing a witness statement that you did not receive a document because you can't remember it from 4 years ago.

Is it just about the money? oh yes.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

p.s. The Court fee is £8 not £7. Brent could at least threaten for the correct amount.

Paid for & free parking in High Barnet