20 October 2020

Copthall Playing Fields - rules changed

Mr Mustard received the following enquiry

Seeing the words 'double yellow lines', you may not have much sympathy.

In this case though, the situation is more nuanced. This is a road within a park which drivers might not realise is actually the public highway and subject to the usual driving and parking rules.

Also, for many years this road could be freely parked on. Perhaps rugby supporters were parking on it on match days and that was causing problems. The rules were changed in 2018

Mr Mustard checked the database of PCNs issued. There wasn't a single one in 2019 but enforcement did take place in the first quarter of 2020 but only on random Sundays (when football is likely to be played and thus a traffic warden has more chance of catching someone out)

Later data has not yet been published and enforcement was paused for a while due to covid.

Mr Musatrd's advice is to not park on those lines any longer as the inevitable will occur and an extra £55 (if you pay the discounted rate) is a bit stiff to watch your child play football.

The best defence is one of 'legitimate expectation' - you parked that way throughout 2019 and 2020 without, up until now, being ticketed. This defence only works once, after that you are on notice.

Here is an adjudicator's explanation but the decision in any particular case is fact dependent and in the mind of the adjudicator.

If you have a blue badge you can park there for 3 hours with a correctly set clock.

Otherwise, park somewhere else.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

5 October 2020

Tower Hamlets Council act with whopping unreasonableness

Mr Mustard peruses the list of traffic adjudicator decisions most days. He mainly reads Barnet cases but sometimes there is something elsewhere which is worthy of a read. This list of cases for one company was such a thing.

Here we have 12 PCNs with a total payable of £1,560 should Fox finish up with 12 refusals.

The PCNs were all for driving where you shouldn't, through a newish bus gate in Wapping High St.

Mr Mustard's eyes were popping once he read the decision. Here it is, absolutely shocking.

The local authority placed marshalls at the site, waved the bus through and then sent a dozen PCNs by post, for contraventions in which they were complicit.

It is hard to adequately express the monstrous duplicity of Tower Hamlets in this situation, trying to extract £1,560 from a company whose driver did exactly as he was told.

Where is the common sense, this bus was actually acting for the council and why haven't they exempted such transport from the prohibition, as they will have done for their refuse lorries?

Costs are rarely awarded and only for wholly unreasonable, vexatious or frivolous behaviour. Tower Hamlets haven't been frivolous but they ought to be paying costs for the time and trouble to which Fox Transport have been put.

Feel free to add your own comments in the box below.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

2 October 2020

Barnet Council are baffling

Mr Mustard thinks that the word 'miles' was meant to be 'streets' as that is what is written later on. This is the written decision of an adjudicator.

It really is a baffling case, Barnet Council objecting to the visitor voucher being used by someone who is visiting you and of course they don't live (as in their registered keeper address on the V5) locally. If the person who is visiting you has driven from, say, Birmingham then yes their car will be registered 100 miles away. That is the whole point of visitor vouchers.

If you buy visitor vouchers and then move two streets away, perhaps because you rent, and still live within the same zone, you aren't going to send back your vouchers for a refund and then buy new ones to link them to your new address.

The scope for the council to allege abuse will only be worse if you use virtual vouchers, so still carry on buying printed ones, which are easier to lend to neighbours who have run out and who return new ones to you the following week once they have some.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 October 2020

Printed visitor parking vouchers (permits)

It is often whilst searching for something else that Mr Mustard finds useful information. That was true in this case, he found this report.


Within it, there is the following decision.

Mr Mustard emailed the parking manager to find out when he could once again buy printed vouchers as although he is a big computer user he finds it quicker and more convenient to give his visitors a printed voucher which is their responsibility to complete and display and not his fault if it all goes wrong.
As is usual he received a quick and informative response, as follows:

It was a few days before he made the phone call, partly because he expected it to go wrong & extra hurdles to be put in his way, but Mr Mustard is pleased to say he was wrong.

Mr Mustard already has an NSL Apply account for his resident permit so his identity and entitlement to buy visitor vouchers was not in doubt. It would probably take longer if you are a resident without a vehicle such that you don't have an NSL Apply account and have to provide some proof of residence within a Controlled Parking Zone.

The customer service representative pointed out to Mr Mustard the option to have electronic visitor vouchers and Mr Mustard politely explained that most of them are used by his gardener when Mr Mustard is away on business. Printed vouchers means that his gardener can get straight on with the garden after 30 seconds spent scratching out the relevant boxes as Mr Mustard gives her a few vouchers in advance. Once Mr Mustard told the nice lady the reason why he needed printed vouchers the transaction proceeded smoothly, the operative simply having to record the reason before going ahead.

Other reasons which you might wish to use are that your computer is broken, you don't have a computer, they are mostly for use by your cleaner, carer, decorator, family member etc who visits when you are not there. If you think of any other good reason why you really need printed vouchers do please let Mr Mustard know (email: mrmustard@zoho.com) and he will add them to this post.

The vouchers come in blocks (often still referred to as books) of 4 and 50 blocks per annum is the maximum purchase, 3 books the minimum.

Do let Mr Mustard know if you encounter any problems.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

24 August 2020

Election costs and Value for money?

It is the norm in London that the Chief Executive of the borough is the Returning Officer (i.e. responsible for the smooth running of the voting process) for that borough. That gives them easy access to a pool of staff who can act as polling station clerks etc plus school and other council connected premises to use as polling stations.

The work of returning officers is overseen by the Electoral Commission. Their website tells Mr Mustard that one of their jobs is to give guidance and support to Returning Officers, so they can run the election well, which Mr Mustard hopes includes some oversight and audit of spending to ensure that value for money is being obtained. After all, the sums involved are not trivial. The total cost of the 2018 elections in Barnet were £666,312 (including vat where applicable). A heck of a lot of money.

Mr Mustard decided to have a look at one of the major costs, the hire of the premises used for the count. He obtained information from 4 boroughs and here it is.

On the face of it, the premises chosen for the count look to be poor value. Even if vat was excluded from the Croydon cost it would only rise to £28,890 so there is a potential saving to be had of at least £11,700 which any decent returning officer would seek to save. All returning officers should take note of the much more reasonable sum that the returning officer of Enfield paid and look to follow suit. Mr Mustard will be asking the returning officer, John Hooton, to justify his choice.

Have you got a large hall that might be suitable for use as the election council venue. If so, email john.hooton@barnet.gov.uk and ask him to consider your venue for the next election count, coming up in May 2021.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

n.b. Each elector could cast 3 votes which explains why votes cast sometimes exceeds the number of people eligible to vote.

21 August 2020

Southwark - pandemic parking enforcement

Southwark sent me this response to the FOI sent to most councils in London a month ago but I didn't have the time to write it up whilst pedalling.

That is very interesting, gathering evidence of social distancing, presumably outdoors, in the Walworth Rd. As staying 2m, or 1m+, apart is merely guidance, then taking photographs of people seems to be a futile action and how does the CEO know if they form part of the same family bubble or not? This seems to be an unwarranted intrusion into the privacy of the general public going about their lawful business.

Helping at the recycling centre, on the other hand, was a good use of resources.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

26 June 2020

A Luton lay-by lash up

Luton Borough Council are inept. Mr Mustard knows that they are short of money as Luton Airport income subsidises council tax but that is no reason to go around giving out nonsense PCNs at ambiguously signed locations, such as in Old Bedford Road to his friend Mr B.

On 13 June they gave a PCN to Mr B who said, 'I was only there one hour and the sign is good for 4 hours'. Quite correct.

Unfortunately, and as Luton Borough Council have failed to realise, the double yellow lines apply up to the building line and so also apply to the lay-by.

A duplicitous collection of lines and signs such as this one create an ambiguity which will be construed against the council.

The solution is to remove the double yellow adjacent to the lay-by. No-one would park in that traffic lane given the existence of the lay-by.

How do councils keep on getting it so wrong?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard