9 January 2020

Puller Road - one unlucky motorist

When Mr Mustard read the above tribunal decision he thought it was odd as he knew that unless cars on both sides put a wheel on the kerb it isn't possible for lorries, ambulances, fire engines etc to get through. 

When the google car went down the road for the first time in 2009 cars were clearly parked partially on the pavement and nothing has changed since.


Mr Mustard also thought that it was a road in which the London wide pavement parking ban is not enforced. He decided therefore to extract from the published PCN database the PCNs which were issued in Puller Road in 2019. Here they are:

The council statement to the tribunal, that footway parking isn't permitted (in that PCNs are issued) which should be the truth, clearly isn't. There really does need to be sort of sanction against local authorities which tell patent lies to the tribunal.

You might also wonder why the traffic warden issued a PCN for parking on the pavement to just one car in the road when he could have issued 50. I think it is because they know if they do that one neighbour will come out, will call another one and before you know it the residents will be up in arms and the traffic warden will receive robust verbal feedback. So what Mr Mustard thinks they do is hit one car and then scarper.

Do make sure that you don't put a wheel on the kerb, anywhere in Greater London, unless a bay is marked out or you are 100% sure it is a road in which the council turns a blind eye.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

17 December 2019

Leaves on the lines

There are a lot of leaves on the ground at the moment, Barnet being so rich in trees, and this can lead to people thinking they have parked where there aren't lines, when there are.

The same goes for snow.

What the public are entitled to is clear information as to where a restriction starts and ends and what it is. This can be conveyed, since 2016, by signs or lines or both (a different road surface can be used to demarcate a restricted area nowadays, with Camden making great use of this near the British Museum).

The above car received a PCN as he found the lines to not be clear enough but as Mr Mustard could clearly see a yellow line both in front and behind the car he suggested not going to the tribunal as he expected the motorist to lose. Adjudicators take different views on this question and it is one within their factual judgment. Here is one such decision which Mr Mustard thinks is a bit harsh, there is nothing in the law that says motorists have to carry a broom with them:

On the other hand, Mr Mustard has a decision in which the Adjudicator said that if the council want to enforce in the snow, they need to clear the roads first. Here it is:

should read 'not visible'

Snow may have melted away between the time when the car was parked and when the traffic warden came along later (although Mr Mustard thinks they should not be sent out in the snow and ice for their own personal safety).

There have been a few frosty mornings. Occasionally Mr Mustard's girlfriend, who lives outside of a cpz, forgets to obtain a visitor parking voucher from him to display in the windscreen and then suddenly remembers at about 9 on a Saturday morning, an hour after the zone has started. So far the luck has been on her side and she has not been ticketed. One morning Mr Mustard looked out of the loft room window at the cars parked in the street and noted that all the windscreens were frosted over. That isn't a problem for residents vouchers as they are now electronic but for cardboard scratch off visitor vouchers and blue badges, they won't be visible after a hard frost and the traffic warden isn't likely to clear your screen for you. Logic, reasonableness and common sense would be that they have to walk on but no, Mr Mustard will bet you a pound to a penny that he will soon be dealing with cars displaying a visitor voucher, that have a frosted windscreen and a PCN tucked under the wiper blade, if it can be prised off the glass.

In fact, here is one of Mr Mustard's successes from 2012

Now Mr Mustard believes in playing with a straight bat and telling the truth but if traffic wardens are to start going about giving out patently unfair tickets when they don't have the grounds to believe a contravention had occurred, as they can't see if there is a voucher on display or not, then he won't be surprised if residents start saying there was a visitor voucher on display when there wasn't, as the council will not be able to disprove that assertion. Sauce for the goose and all that.

Let's see if Mr Mustard's inbox sees any of this type of unfair PCN landing in it.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

3 December 2019

The Wrong Approach - now righted

A resident emailed Mr Mustard with the above PCN and told him that he wasn't in Approach Road when he parked but in The Approach. A feature of the latest PCN software that Barnet Council use is that they put a pin on a map to show roughly where the PCN was issued, like this:

Clearly the PCN is a nullity for want of an accurate statement of the contravention, the locus being a vital fact. A challenge was sent in saying that the vehicle was not parked (= not waiting) in Approach Road, New Barnet. Here is the relevant part of the response, a rejection of the challenge:

The response is wrong, not just a little wrong, but 100% wrong.

How can a council, or their contractors, NSL, get something so basic as the location so wrong. Approach Road is adjacent to New Barnet railway station.

The two roads are 6 miles apart. It is very hard to muddle them up if the slightest attention is paid.

Now the motorist is asking Mr Mustard if he should pay. Definitely not is the answer as the council have accused him of something which is simply not true. The motorist will now have to wait for the Notice to Owner, and has all of the worry of a PCN hanging over him for all that time, & if the car is leased that will mean an administration fee has to be paid, one that should not be necessary if the council and/or NSL did their job properly. There is no guarantee that the formal representations in response to the Notice to Owner will be considered any more carefully than the informal challenge was, or wasn't, and then an Appeal will be made to the tribunal. It is only at that point that an impartial view will be taken of the facts by a body that doesn't have a financial interest in rejecting perfectly good representations.

Mr Mustard thinks it is time for a change when it comes to how the surplus from road traffic related PCNs should be spent. Let councils cover their costs and all of the surplus after that should go to a central body to spend on something charitable. Councils would rapidly cut their activities back to the minimum and focus solely on the traffic management purposes which should be their primary goal, rather then generating surpluses to reduce their wider budgetary pressures.

We also need an independent oversight body who can investigate why some councils keep making errors in their own favour.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update 3 December 2019

The Notice to Owner was issued on 30 October to the garage whose car it was.

Mr Mustard challenged it on 12 November pointing out the road error, providing maps.

Barnet Council refused for a second time to cancel on 26 November.

On 28 November Mr Mustard started an Appeal to the tribunal.
On 3 December he checked the PCN balance and the PCN has, at long last, been cancelled.

What a waste of time and money.

Barnet Council have had to pay a c.£30 case fee to the tribunal. They were always going to lose the case. Why didn't they cancel earlier? Because many people give up even when they are in the right.

Mr Mustard never gives up.

20 November 2019

Barnet Council - Capita - data harvest reduced

Capita recently demanded that Mr Mustard prove he was still entitled to the single person discount and he had a choice of completing the form they sent him or going on line and completing a form, as above. Mr Mustard started by having a look at the on line form and decided that his telephone number and email address should not be compulsory information.

Mr Mustard complained to Barnet Council and they have half agreed with him.

I can advise that the email address is collected to provide automatic notification to the customer that their review has been submitted successfully. As part of this notification the customer is given a reference number that they can quote if they have any queries about us receiving the online form. We do not send any other response to the review.

I am satisfied that the collection of the email address is not excessive and that the collection of this information is necessary and relevant to the processing of form.

The telephone number is collected in case there is a need to contact the customer about their form, however I agree that this should be optional field as alternative contact details are available. In my view making both the email address and telephone number mandatory could be considered as unnecessary.

With that in mind I can confirm that the form is being redesigned, making the email address mandatory, and the telephone number optional. This will become live in the next three weeks.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Mr Mustard does not agree with the reasoning as they could simply provide a confirmation of receipt reference number on line. If they want to contact you they can write as it is a property that is the subject of the enquiry, it isn't going anywhere, or they can make an email address optional should you want to be contacted that way.

Mr Mustard sent his response in by post and the form does not say you must supply an email address and a telephone number, boxes which Mr Mustard would have put a dash in anyway. Did Capita send an acknowledgement that they had received his completed form, no they didn't so they only want to send one if it doesn't cost them anything.

Did they tell Mr Mustard the outcome of their review?
No, of course they didn't, as they only get paid when someone loses their single person discount, so they want to cut out all possible costs, even at the expense of providing a resident with the reassurance that all is well.

Rather than being left in the dark, Mr Mustard has now written to Capita to ask them to confirm the outcome of the review and to see the data on which they based their decision.

Mr Mustard is also now going to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner to see if they agree that the collection of an email address on line is not necessary, it should be optional.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

19 November 2019

Barnet - the renegade council

The above image is from the Highway Code which couldn't be clearer, you can stop to load/unload on double yellows (provided it isn't explicitly prohibited by lateral kerb marks) and you can drop off and pick up passengers.

The below is from the council's own Traffic Management Order i.e. the council enacted it:

So given both of the above why are Barnet Council rejecting representations based upon a complete lack of knowledge of both the Highway Code and their own rules? Could it be the money?

Anybody who pays up in response to the council's incorrect interpretation of the law has been conned out of £55.

If you have such a letter send a copy of the challenge you made and the council's response to Mr Mustard (mrmustard@zoho.com) as he is going to fire an email into the inbox of the parking manager and ask him to get the law applied properly. Mr Mustard can't be sure but the rejection letter was probably written by an employee of NSL Ltd who really ought to know the law by now.

Within 24 hours of Mr Mustard emailing the parking manager, the PCN is being cancelled, an apology sent and retraining is planned.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

18 November 2019

Capita - not at all helpful

A minor gripe is that Capita left part of the postcode off their address.

The rest of the letter isn't of much use either.

The 2018 statement was wrong so must be chucked away.
The 2019 statement didn't arrive.

What is the recipient to decide upon receipt of this letter? nothing, as there aren't any figures with it.

What should it have contained?

A statement as at the date of normal pension age (NPA).
A list of the possible options.
A request for your bank details so that the arrears can be paid asap.
A calculation of the compensation which will be paid to the pensioner for not paying them for up to 2 years.

The letter as it stands merely tells you they messed up and then wants the pensioner to make the running.

Mr Mustard's advice.
Don't phone them and don't write (unless you don't do email) you'll need to complete the post code, it is DL98 1AJ

Mr Mustard would email and ask for the information that you should have been given on the NPA (normal pension age) and for the relevant facts and figures and options. You want everything in writing, phone calls can lead to disputes.

Having right royally messed up Capita should be going the extra mile to provide information & compensation to the adversely affected parties, not putting the onus on them to phone up Capita. They should be offering the affected parties individual appointments at which Capita can demonstrate that they have now got the pension records correct and explain the options available in each case.

Mr Mustard really doesn't understand why councillors don't kick out Capita given that this is just one more example in a long list of administrative incompetence. They are truly awful and yet on we trot lurching from one dreadful story to the next.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard