18 February 2018

NSL Ltd Fake It


Mr Mustard was asked to assist a trader who has been given a Fixed Penalty Notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 s33(1)(a) for fly tipping. Mr Mustard hasn't bothered reading the Act because the lady is not guilty.

The problem stemmed from an employee of NSL Ltd on behalf of Barnet Council going through a pile of bags like the above and deciding that they were put there by the business 'Fake it' as their name was on a box inside a bag on the pile. It was inside a blue bag.

Just because one of those bags was put there by a particular individual does not mean the other two were. The waste complained of is household waste. A tanning salon generates almost no waste, a few empty spray tan containers and tissues, that is about the extent of it.

This business buys a supply of sacks from Barnet Council in order to dispose of its waste in a lawful manner. Here is one


Why would this salon be putting household waste out in black sacks when the lady owner lives in the borough and has a huge wheelie bin for her household waste? & secondly look at the number of authorised blue bags she still has available to use (every year she throws away a quantity she has not used and which go out of date)

Whose household waste might it be which is placed next to the bin? (where the salon have been told to put their authorised blue waste bags). Mr Mustard hazards that it might well be the occupants of the flats upstairs who have nowhere to place their waste, they just don't have wheelie bins. Mr Mustard feels sure they stuff most of their waste into the public bins when they can but in his walk up and down the High Road he noticed that they were all pretty full, many to the point of overflowing.

The lady has already written to NSL explaining the situation and they instantly send one of the operatives back in to not listen to her perfectly reasonable explanation & to talk over her & poo poo everything she said. In the world of parking it is good practice that the people who issue the penalty notices and the ones who handle challenges are different teams who do not interact so that challenges get a less biased consideration. If a hectoring enforcement agent turns up again he will be told that Mr Musatrd is assisting the lady and that they should do everything in writing and to leave the shop.

Mr Mustard hasn't yet seen the latest enforcement contract but in March 17 the Environment Committee, rather foolishly in Mr Mustard's opinion, agreed that it could be on an income share model. It is possibly/probably the case that the council and NSL Ltd share the income 50/50. The trouble with such an arrangement is that if NSL accept a challenge, they don't make any money.

Guess what happens to perfectly good challenges? Yes, they are much more likely to get rejected.

The lady will now have to wait and see if the council decide to start a case in the magistrates court and if they do it will be defended but this is wrong, there is no evidence that the lady dumped anything on the pavement. She placed a council authorised disposal sack there and nothing else. What is being relied upon here is that many small traders would roll over and pay up for a quiet life but this one isn't going to, for the simple reason that she did not do it.

Mr Mustard doesn't like fly tipping but the council have incentivised their enforcement agents NSL Ltd to go after the wrong targets, don't target a business owner whose own contract for disposal is with the council and who has enough bags for at least half a tonne of waste.

Councillors really do need to think a bit harder about the implications of the contract that they agree to the terms of.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

16 February 2018

Harrow's horrible history

The above is an extract of a PATAS tribunal decision by an experienced adjudicator back in 2013. Mr Mustard has seen plenty of similar decisions and won some Barnet cases on that basis. Barnet Council tend to be more timely nowadays.

A few weeks ago a 2015 Harrow Council PCN landed on his desk. That surprised Mr Mustard so he thought he would see if it was one off or if there were many more. He therefore made the following Freedom of Information request:

Please provide the following data in relation to parking, moving traffic & bus lane contraventions for all PCNs which were registered at the TEC on or after 1 September 2017 up until 30 December 2017 but only where the Charge Certificate was issued before 1 January 2017.

Date of TEC registration
Date of Charge Certificate
Date of PCN
Location of contravention
Contravention code
PCN value at issue date

Please provide this information as an unlocked spreadsheet by email to this address. No cells should be locked or protected.

Mr Mustard was duly sent a massive spreadsheet documenting a hideous catalogue of PCNs which should have been written off long ago. In the guidance issued by London Councils some time ago it said that councils should write off any PCNs where there had been a delay of 6 months at any stage of the process. It is only guidance but there needs to be a good reason to ignore it. There isn't a good reason. Here is the spreadsheet.




You might want to download it in order to sort all 2,158 items.

What Mr Mustard observes is that you should ignore negative numbers in the charge certificate days column as that just signifies that a fresh PCN or Notice to Owner has been issued.

The shortest delay between the Charge Certificate (when a PCN value gets increased by 50%) and the Order for Recovery when the PCN gets registered as a debt at Northampton County Court just prior to bailiffs being instructed. The longest delay was 1160 days which is more than 3 years.

Note that these are just 3 months worth of PCN which are being wrongly chased.

Now apart from Mr Mustard how many people would still have all PCN documents from 2014 for something which it appears the council have abandoned. Less than 1% of the populace probably. There is definite prejudice being caused to motorists by Harrow Council. The biggest problem is for people who moved, who destroyed the paperwork as the PCN hadn't moved for a year and who find out by a bailiff clamping their car that Harrow Council have been extraordinarily dilatory but they are put into the position where they really have to pay to get the clamp off and they will be lucky to see a refund.

What possible explanation can there be for some incompetence by Harrow Council? Mr Mustard thinks there is a great sadness within parking departments of councils generally if they write off any PCNs so they tend to leave them sitting there and then have another go at them later, perhaps when a new manager arrives, or the contractor changes, so instead of doing the decent thing as councils should they resurrect the PCNs and cause great anxiety and inconvenience.

The other reason of course to bring PCNs back from their moribund state is the revenue they will raise although it won't be that great a percentage. It must be enough to make rootling around in the archives worth the bother, always assuming anyone has measured the cost benefit?

The trouble with local authorities is that it is assumed by parliament that they will exercise their powers in a reasonable manner but they won't all do so. There is a definite need for a PCN ombudsman with teeth who keeps local authorities honest, especially in London which issues the majority of PCNs in England.

Mr Mustard is still jousting with Harrow about the PCN that started all this. He will report on that once it is over.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

15 February 2018

The misery ends ouside Sainsbury's at Heath Parade in Grahame Park Way

and so after an eternity it came to pass that the council finally adopted a section of land which they had owned in the recent past and sold off only for them to take it back again, by adoption. An expensive exercise for thousands of members of the public who were snuck up on by 'Mrs Sunglasses' and received a parking charge notice in the post.
Mr Mustard was down that way yesterday and so took some photographs of the new layout.

looks much the same as a year ago from a distance, you park where Mr Mustard's black Audi is, inside one of the four marked spaces.

The loading bay sign seems to have gone walkabout already

at last Sainsbury's do something useful; they were no help before except to let Mrs Sunglasses shelter in the shop between her ticketing raids

a pretty new clear sign
Mr Mustard is pleased to see the arrival of the council at this location, yes really.

He is pleased to see the departure of Mrs Sunglasses.

copyright: Bald Eagle of NoToMob fame
If you have parking charge notices you are fighting at this location you can get help at PePiPoo or at the BMPA.

You now have time, in the 30 minute slots to buy a loaf of bread and a pint of milk. The 30 minutes is far more useful than the 15 minutes which is all you get in High Barnet High Street's shared use loading/free bays. Perhaps they will be changed to 30 minutes one day?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Gosh: two good news stories in two days concerning Barnet Council. What is the world coming to.

14 February 2018

Barnet Council - sensible exercise of discretion


Mr Mustard was working on site on Thursday 1 February. It was only late in the afternoon, just as he was about to leave site in Northants to drive back to Barnet for the charity pub quiz, that he checked his MrMustard emails and found this cry for help:

I implore you to please call me urgently .The bailiff has clamped my car. I have just lost my husband. This ticket he has clamped me for is very old .I do not believe i am liable for it .I have drs letters to say I am really ill and they advise due to my mental state that the ticket should be recinded. I can explain all.

I live alone and have no friends or family. Please contact me .My number is (redacted)


Mr Mustard's heart sank as he likes to avoid bailiffs if at all possible by fixing the PCN earlier. He duly phoned the number he had been given. The lady was on the verge of tears and Mr Mustard said he would be there in 2 hours as he was concerned that the bailiff might remove the car. He knew he was going to be late to the pub but at least the pub would still be there later whereas the car might not.

When he met the lady he found the situation was worse than he thought. She had no paperwork prior to the bailiff's visit which was odd as at least four official notices would have been sent to her & she had not moved in years. Mr Mustard organised a witness statement and an application to file it out of time. Barnet Council were at liberty to oppose the late application and if they did the Traffic & Enforcement Centre at Northampton County Court were likely to reject the application. 

There were two other live PCNs (a third one had been cancelled by the council) for having the blue badge of her late husband on display; in her grief she had not thought about handing it in and obtaining one for herself or a resident's permit. Due to her lack of mobility she probably qualified for a blue badge in her own right but had not applied for one.

Mr Mustard decided that he would explain the situation to Barnet Council outside of the formal process so that they would hopefully deal with it as affecting a human being rather than the PCN reference being the extent of their concern. He wrote this:

Dear Sirs

I represent Mrs Redacted as attached authority.

I am writing to make representations out of time which the council are at liberty to consider. The London Councils Code of Practice says this about them:

I am also asking you to not contest the out of time witness statement, thus giving the lady at least an opportunity to challenge the PCN, or in the alternative, to cancel the PCN. The effect of not opposing the witness statement would allow you to issue a fresh Notice to Owner if you were so minded.

I ask you to consider the proportionality of the penalty once bailiff fees are added. £373 for a badge that was placed the wrong way up, which was probably caused by the late Mr Redacted interfering with it & not appreciating what he was doing due to his Alzheimer's, which was quite advanced at that time & he died just 2 months later. I believe this lady when she tells me that she has no paperwork about this PCN as she produced it for other more recent PCNs (if there has been any reaction to statutory documents at the time I am sure you will tell me but this lady has quite bad depression and as her memory is defective that can be understood). The late Mr Redacted did use to take things, such as the mail, and hide or destroy them, so that is probably why the Notice to Owner is not to hand. This is the most trivial of contraventions as the council could check the validity of the badge from the number on the back of it.

I ask you also to take into account the vulnerable position of this lady. As her recent doctor's letter states, the lady is housebound, with severe back pain, depression and anxiety and the latter two conditions are not helped by this PCN. You will note that the doctor describes her as extraordinarily vulnerable and special consideration should be given to bailiff use in such circumstances. She is also in pretty dire financial straits, being a tenant of and living on a mere £220 a fortnight and with no savings.

I look forward to hearing from you, hopefully with positive news, that you have exercised your discretion to not enforce the PCN.

Yours faithfully

Mr Mustard

p.s. One small point about the bailiff's Notice which over-states the sum due 'at the date of this notice' as being £483 when it was only £373. That is an illegal demand for payment despite the note to the side. Perhaps you could remind your bailiffs generally not to demand sums which are not due at that moment.

Here is the reply that he received:

Thank you for your email of the 9th February 2018 to our Head of Parking and Infrastructure.

I have investigated the PCN and the evidence you supplied regarding the registered keeper’s current medical condition and based on my findings I am willing on this occasion to cancel the PCN and all associated PCNs currently active in relation to the vehicle AB02CDE. The PCNs outstanding that have been cancelled are AG11111111 issued on 29/11/2017 and AG22222222 issued on 01/12/2017. No further enforcement action will take place regarding the above PCNs and the matter is considered closed.

The Council has exercised its discretion on this occasion and cancelled the PCNs on the basis the appellant’s ill health as supported in the letter you supplied from Dr NW. It must be noted that the vehicle was parked displaying another individual’s (Mr Redacted) disabled blue badge who as you state had passed away in February 2017. The CEO issued the PCNs due to the blue badge being expired therefore no exemption from the conditions of the bay would apply. I am also aware the vehicle AB02CDE has valid road tax and MOT until May and June 2018 which would indicate the vehicle is still in use. I would advise that the vehicle be removed from the bay and parked in an alternative location or a parking Permit purchased.

The Council is satisfied an exemption can be applied in this instance. However please advise your client that this cancellation does not set a precedent and that similar PCNs incurred by the vehicle AB02CDE may be pursued in future.

In respect of the issue raised regarding the Bailiff sum due I will raise this with Marston to get their comments however this is immaterial now as the case has been closed.I hope that this information is helpful given the positive resolution to the issue raised. If I can be of assistance to you with regards to any other parking-related issue, then please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Yours sincerely

Parking Customer Service Team Leader
Parking Client Team

This is the correct and proper exercise of discretion which other councils would do well to copy (and has led to this blog instead of the one he expected to write about what utter heartless b'stards populate the parking department - Mr Mustard is pleased to be proven wrong on this occasion). Mr Mustard thinks that the existence of the recent doctor's letter was probably a key point in favour of cancelling.

The two more recent PCNs would almost certainly have been beaten by Mr Mustard had they reached the tribunal as the car had not moved during the time that they were issued so only one contravention had occurred. He is also slightly worried that the resident's permit does not show on the council computer as Mr Mustard himself applied for it on line and received a receipt for it (although the receipt does not give you the vehicle registration which isn't helpful). The bailiff's letters aren't academic if they are routinely wrong and hopefully they will be correct in the future.

How lovely to get a far better response than Mr Mustard was dreading.

So, three cheers for Barnet Council actually using their discretion in a sensible manner.  Mr Mustard has responded to Barnet Council thanking them for their letter and suggesting the following:

Thank you for this which will be a great relief to this lady who is very distressed. I note what you say about a residents permit, I went on line and did the transaction a few days ago so I do hope that I have done that properly? I'll be blogging the positive aspects of your decision as soon as I can, no names no pack drill as per usual.

Due to a multi-million debt recovery job I am engaged upon I have been forced to cut down who I am helping to those in greatest need which includes the physically & mentally ill as well as the elderly & impecunious. I readily accept that bailiffs have a job to do, I am a credit consultant / debt collector after all, but the effect of their visits weighs disproportionately upon the very people I help. I have long worried that the costs are disproportionate and sometimes make payment impossible for the elderly and of course the less physically able (not necessarily eligible for a blue badge) are the people who need their car the most and I don't think that the ethos of the due adjustment provisions of the Equality Act get taken into account by bailiffs who don't after all get paid unless they collect. The bailiff reward system is at the heart of the problem.

I would be pleased to sit down with the parking manager one day to discuss this and see if there is a better way of obtaining the council's money without causing so much anxiety.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

This problem having gone away Mr Mustard has another since this morning, a lady of a certain age with a Motability car & 3 Barnet PCNs. TfL have cancelled a PCN because she was so distressed she called the police as she was suicidal, he now has to ask the same of Barnet Council.

He also has a clamping of a car where it was used to transport a disabled person other than the vehicle owner & the police threatened to arrest the Owner if he didn't let the bailiff lock the clamp on, the Owner having intervened & having let his brother pay the fine as he had to take his partner to hospital for an operation that very day. The bailiff was not clamping lawfully so here we go, another complaint is imminent, in fact two, one to the council and one to the police.

11 February 2018

Guest blog - Rodborough Road

Dear Mr Mustard

Just wanted to let you know of my recent success with x2 tickets for moving traffic contraventions in Barnet. I had to go back twice to one client one week after the other. I was caught by that camera opposite Rodborough Road outside Sainsbury's in Finchley Rd (near to the crossroads with Golders Green Road) as I wanted to turn right from Finchley Road to Rodborough Road.

I went back to where it all happened and stood outside Sainsbury's next to 'that' very high pole with the camera on top and stood and observed.

•    I observed that the angle of the 'no right hand turn' at the top of Rodborough Road was in the best position for the camera - not for the oncoming traffic?  For the camera it was 'face on' at the best optimal angle.... but for the road user its at an angle. This clearly was all part of the set-up for me to be the star of their movie!!

•    That buses come thick and fast round the bend from the monument towards Sainsbury's along Finchley Road and can obscure the view of the 'no right hand turn' directly outside Sainsbury's (no right hand sign on the left).  Even when it is not obscured it kind of looks a bit odd stuck there - its hardly an 'early warning' of the no right hand turn and its right near an alley type road running by the side of Sainsbury's?

•    Big double decker buses also come out of Rodborough Road and also there are buses coming down Finchley Road towards Golders Green on the other side of the dual carriage way, so whole area has that 'crowded by buses' feel to it where you can't see a thing but the council saw fit to make it a no right turn last year and its camera on that massively tall pole doesn't have any obstructions and whole set up of the scene is purely for money making.

•    To make matters worse on a low bollard it has a 'no entry' sign but its not a 'no entry road for other direction traffic!

So I first appealed to Barnet who of course rejected my appeal and gave me another 14 days to pay up. I then completed my appeal on-line to the Environment & Traffic Adjudicators (ETA) booking an 'in person' slot for end of this month.

In the ETA appeal I used all the above plus the following:

•    The Notice of Rejection claimed there are road markings in place instructing motorists to drive in the direction shown by the arrow.  ........There are no road markings on this stretch of road.

•    Both PCN's never had the option of "the contravention alleged by the Authority on the PCN did not occur."  Instead they had some other weird wording which wasn't understandable.

And the following:

I would refer to a precedent for a case which won at appeal involving a “no right hand turn” sign being obscured (Kilburn Times)

And another case involving a bus blocking the signage on left-hand side:

and I also let them know (all courtesy of 'Open Barnet') that...

Since March 2017 when this ‘no right hand turn’ Moving traffic offence became active it regularly catches out between 316-353 drivers a month creating a revenue stream of around £240,000 a year (if they all pay up at £65 a time) and double if they don't.

.......and they cancelled both tickets and said

"The Council has re-examined all of the evidence and on this occasion has decided to not contest your appeal........In addition please note this decision does not set a precedence for any future issued PCN for similar circumstances, nor is the decision deemed as acceptance of your grounds for representation or appeal......

Well sure beats me what new evidence they have-examined...they had it all in the first place!!  Seems to me they realised my ETA appeal meant business and they backed down. 

Yes I'm really pleased the nightmare has ended and the blackmail of having to pay £130 (or £260 if I would lose at ETA) has gone away.....but what about everybody else?  What about all those other money making cameras all primed and positioned ready to catch ordinary people out.  I do find it hard to believe that this 'set-up' is really compliant with TSRGD 2016 as they say?  

I've bothered to send this email because I want other people to know that I came out in a cold sweat when I got both tickets, worried, felt depressed and ill, panicked, then decided to fight back, fought it and I won.  Now I sound like that woman on the radio add

"My Money .....I don't think so..."😊

Please use all the information I have given herein to help others caught out by same camera and I will continue to do my best to publicise.

Mr Mustard's comments.

- It would be far better if the council were to put bollards down the middle of the road to make the no right turn into & the no right turn out of Rodborough Rd impossible, but that wouldn't give the council any revenue.


- Previous tribunal decisions aren't precedents but they can be legally persuasive and help an adjudicator to find in your favour.


- It is a standard letter which says they have re-examined the evidence, Mr Mustard has a sackload of them. It would have been helpful if the council could have considered the challenge properly in the first place but apathy rules and councils know that if they knock motorists back that many won't be bothered to go the the tribunal. If every motorist did indeed proceed to the tribunal that the council would implode & motorists would win by default.


- It is hard to spot the quite small cameras which are many metres in the air.
Please be careful and don't turn right at Rodborough Rd, neither in nor out. Crossing from Rodborough Rd into the alleyway alongside Sainsbury's also leads to you getting a ticket for turning right which you barely have. 90% of the time adjudicators agree with you.


Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

8 February 2018

Fly ticketing in Barnet

The council in their mid-term budgeting papers going before the Policy & Resources Committee next Tuesday, 13 February, plan to close some of their budget gap & make more money by issuing even more penalties for fly tipping & littering. Prosecutions are rare for fly tipping but plenty of fixed penalties are being dished out for minor matters to soft targets.

Here is an email that Mr Mustard has just received:

I am hoping you can help me resolve a dilemma similar to the ones described on your website about ludicrous local council actions.

I live in Pimlico and engaged the services of a professional organiser who took some donations to a charity shop in North Finchley, near where she lives. They accepted the items, and she specifically remembers them accepting a ceramic ornament which was donated in a padded envelope to protect it.

A week later I received a fixed penalty notice from Barnet Council claiming that I had committed the act of fly tipping this envelope, along with some boxes and clothes (I had not donated any boxes or clothes).  I explained the situation, and also provided proof that I had been elsewhere at the time and date of the incident.  The envelope is the only evidence linking me to the waste as I know they have no CCTV footage of me, since I did not fly tip! However, they rejected my claim, stating that they had my name and address on the envelope.  Surely this envelope does not provide sufficient proof that I am guilty of fly tipping?

Furthermore, if the ceramic ornament was accepted by the charity shop, does safe disposal of the envelope not become the responsibility of the charity shop?
I'd be very grateful for any advice you have, and think that Barnet Council's unreasonable aggression deserves wider attention.

Ludicrous doesn't even begin to describe this situation.

The writer, let us call her Ms P, lives in Pimlico, does not have a car, works as a private tutor and is in her thirties.

Mr Mustard's observations:

How likely is it that Ms P would come all the way to Barnet from Pimlico to dump a padded envelope?

Once the goods were taken by the professional organiser they were no longer the property of Ms P. and so she is not liable for what happened to them afterwards. It was a reasonable belief that a professional organiser would not litter.

The padded envelope possibly fell out of the charity shop's bin when being emptied 
or 
they gave it to a customer to protect a fragile item and that customer threw it away
or 
someone went through their bins looking for anything they could turn into money.

The council cannot prove that Ms P visited Barnet.

Equally they cannot prove that the item was dumped by Ms P.

The council cannot prove that all of the dumped items were dumped at the same time.

The council, or perhaps their enforcement agent NSL, refuse to listen to reason because revenue is the main attraction of issuing penalties for enforcement.

Councils have too much power and cannot be trusted with it. All penalty income should go to central government in order to break the link between enforcement and revenue.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

7 February 2018

Suspension of common sense

It is fair enough to start the suspension at midnight so that residents can move their cars well before the pantechnicon arrives at 7am so it has the necessary room to park but why oh why oh why suspend the bay until 1 minute to midnight? by which time the removals van will be long gone, and in this case it was done by lunch time.

What the council should do is give the residents of the property the authority to remove the suspension signs once the van leaves and this would achieve the double objective of giving the van the necessary space and not inconvenience other residents for longer than absolutely necessary. Mr Mustard wouldn't of course suggest getting your cutters out, removing redundant suspension signs and put council employees out of a job.

This suggestion will not be taken up by Barnet Council.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard