14 December 2017

No thaw in relations from Barnet Parking

By Kabelleger / David Gubler
Mr Mustard didn't have to wait long before he was asked to advise about a snow related PCN issued to a resident who thought, from memory, that they were parked within a bay on the next road to their own. It turns out they were slightly outside it but given that the whole road was snow covered when they parked they cannot be criticised for being slightly outside the bay, which is what the PCN was for.

This PCN was issued just after 11am on Wednesday 13 December. The road in question, a quiet cul-de-sac, had not been gritted. It is evident from the snow on the pavement that traffic wardens should not be sent out by management in these conditions.

Barnet Council keep worrying about the reasons why residents are unhappy with the performance of the parking department. It won't take a report by an external consultant to tell them that if you send traffic wardens out to ticket cars which have been parked as well as possible in the snow, or even abandoned and not yet collected (we can't all drop everything the minute the snow goes), that the public are rightly going to feel hard done by. Yes, the ticket can be challenged, but motorists should not be put through unnecessary processes.

What should the council do? They should send traffic wardens out, suitably equipped, to grit the pavements and not send them out to issue PCNs until at least 24 hours after all pavements are 99% clear of snow throughout the borough. Anything else looks like profiteering from the council's own failure to properly grit the borough, which shocking story you can read at the Broken Barnet blog here.

Mr Mustard will take this PCN all the way to the tribunal. He has a decision in which an adjudicator says that if councils want to issue PCN they must clear the snow first.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

12 December 2017

Barnet Council have slipped up since 2009

Above is Barnet Council's assessment of their performance faced with the worst snow fall for 20 years and it sounds pretty good. Mr Mustard doesn't remember any particular problems from that time, his work diary looking pretty normal.

You have to ask what has changed since 2009?

The depot has moved out of the borough (a shortsighted decision).

There has been a massive shift away from directly employed staff to outsourcing. The traffic wardens no longer work for the council so unless reusing them for salt spreading was in the contract (Mr Mustard has read it & doesn't remember seeing such a clause and certainly hasn't seen or heard of traffic wardens doing anything other than being as zealous as ever in issuing PCNs) that isn't going to happen. It would also need to be in the employee's contract. Refuse crews are still in house - others will hopefully know what they have been doing.

Winter planning was outsourced to Crapita - Coventry had it much worse than Barnet so the Capita staff at that location may not have made it to work?

Probably due to recent mild winters contingency planning hasn't seemed so important
 Budgets have been cut left right & centre. Street scene has not escaped

Feel free to add other factors in the comments box.

Whatever the reasons we are all suffering the effects of the council's poor planning. 

Q. Why do we pay council tax? 
A. To receive communal services.

Q. Are we getting them?
A. No

Q. Can you get better service for less money?
A. No

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update 12 December 2017 at 19:54

No traffic warden has been out gritting pavements which they could usefully have done as we have 50+ of them and they couldn't issue PCNs on Sunday.

11 December 2017

A snowball's chance in hell of your road or pavement being gritted.

Gritting by MisterMustard on Scribd

If you start with the notion that something is almost impossible then you are hardly likely to be brilliant at it. Perhaps it is this lack of conviction (apathy?) that has led to such a poor gritting performance this weekend in the borough of Barnet.

Mr Mustard does not think that Barnet Council have met their statutory duty this weekend as in some previous years the performance was more effective which demonstrates that a better performance is reasonably practicable.

Priority 1 roads were not regularly gritted. This evening coming home from his snooker match Mr Mustard found that buses on Barnet Hill were staying well out from the kerb due to lack of grip and that a pedestrian was walking in the road in the High St near Normandy Avenue because the footpath was an ice rink.

Priority 2 & 3 (=no priority at all) roads were not gritted as all Priority 1 roads had not yet been done. Priority 3 roads in this study were only gritted 2% of the time of Priority 1 roads. They have a snowball's chance in hell of being gritted.

'Clear snow early in the day when fresh' & 'Apply salt before night to prevent refreezing' are two piece of council advice that the council should take heed of.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Pay but get PCN; valid challenge gets refused!

What, you are wondering, has Ski Sunday got to do with a PCN? 
It is that service is going downhill fast.

Mr Mustard's client, let us call her Miss R, parked her car near to her place of work and immediately paid for her parking at the correct location, which she knows well, and for the correct car (she may in fact only have the one). The payment was made at 08:34. The location being North Finchley, where the traffic wardens hunt in packs as their base is just up the road, a traffic warden clocked her car the moment she arrived. He/she checked for payment which of course takes about a minute after parking (you must not try to pay whilst still driving along). He/she then waited until 08:39 and issued a PCN for non-payment. Mr Mustard thinks they forgot to check for a payment at the end of the 5 minute observation period in their haste to clock up another PCN towards the non-existent target (something makes them really keen to issue PCNs).

Having found the PCN when she went to use her car a bit later, Miss R thought she wouldn't trouble Mr Mustard with such an easy challenge, she would make it herself. She duly did so and the council denied that any payment had been made for that car that day which is odd as Mr Mustard could see the payment in her on line account.

Mr Mustard therefore intervened and sent a complaint to parking management, who know that Mr Mustard is always serious and almost always correct, and has heard back very swiftly today (the complaint was only made on Saturday) and the PCN has been cancelled.

This response nails the lie that payments made to PayByPhone appear instantly on the hand held equipment of the traffic warden.

Whilst that is a quick and sincere apology, one small part of Mr Mustard's email did not, as per usual, get responded to. It read:

NSL back office have incorrectly stated that no payments were made that day. Motorists really shouldn't have to suffer two errors on one ticket, it is stressful, exasperating, wastes their time and costs them a £25 charity donation for my help.

The council really should compensate motorists when they have got it so wrong. You don't let motorists made even one teensy weensy parking error without expecting to extract a penalty of £60 or £110.

The blog for the last few entries has highlighted one cock-up after another. There is another good (bad) one (two) coming shortly.

How much should motorists have to put up with?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

10 December 2017

Blunders abound

Although Mr Mustard is very busy working and really hasn't got the spare time for PCNs he can't leave wronged motorists without the necessary help.

A PCN was issued to a Scotsman for code 87: Parked in a designated disabled person's parking place without displaying a valid disabled person's badge in the prescribed manner. The photo above was taken by the traffic warden.

Although the clock is displayed and shows a time of about 11:05 it wasn't necessary to display it as blue badge holders park for fee all day in this car park. The gentleman in question had driven down from Scotland to visit his brother in Barnet General and then nipped up to the town centre where, after finding the PCN on his car, he was lucky to be spotted by a friend of Mr Mustard's on his way to band practice (he plays the tuba whereas traffic wardens just play the fiddle) who passed on the necessary mobile phone number.

The motorist has done nothing wrong, he has clearly displayed a valid blue badge the correct way up. Now he has to fight a PCN and make a charity donation for Mr Mustard's help so will be out of pocket even if the PCN gets cancelled the instant that Mr Mustard's complaint goes in.

Mr Mustard has seen more instances recently of complete lash ups by traffic wardens. Service really needs to improve as being wrongly threatened with a £110 penalty is not cricket. This is another example of an instance in which the motorist should automatically be compensated for the inconvenience.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

29 November 2017

Traffic wardens 67x/67y - proper novices

On 16 October in the Finchley Central CPZ Mr Mustard's client, let us call them Ms T, received a PCN at 10 in the morning on a single yellow line which starts at 2pm. Mr Mustard noticed that the traffic warden had a high badge number, 67x, where x is a number he is not going to tell you, and so Mr Mustard surmised that new traffic wardens were being sent out with inadequate training or supervision, or both. Mr Mustard lodged a complaint, the PCN was cancelled and the traffic warden given more 'guidance' whatever that is.

Roll forward to 23 November and the same thing happens again, a PCN given out by a different traffic warden 67y, where y is a number known only to Mr Mustard & his client, the same mistake at the same place by another newbie traffic warden who clearly needs the same guidance as the others.

Another complaint by Mr Mustard, another cancellation and a second letter of apology.

The additional training needs to be before the traffic wardens (CEO) are let loose on the street issuing real, painful, expensive PCNs.

There was of course no question but that the council would not pay compensation to Ms T. This is exactly the sort of case where compensation of a fixed sum, say 50% of the PCN value, should be paid as a matter of course.

Study your PCN very carefully if the issuing traffic warden has a badge number above 669.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

26 November 2017

Barnet Council blundering about in the dark

A traffic warden (CEO) has to have a good reason to believe that a contravention has occurred and unless it is blindingly obvious that a vehicle is miles from the kerb there should be clear photos with a measuring device to prove the 50cm has been exceeded. This is what the traffic warden has within his evidence, and with service of 5 years he should know better

When viewed on his laptop Mr Mustard thinks he can make a kerb out under the back of the car at an oblique angle and so on the traffic warden's own evidence there is no contravention.

This is what the scene was like the next day in daylight

A challenge was made by the motorist and rejected by the council. The council confuse themselves, this is the scene from further away, the location is Victoria Close EN4:

What the council fail to understand is that the entire curved edge of the 'turning circle' is 'the edge of the carriageway' and that as long as any part of the car is within 50cm of that, the front or rear bumper, or a mirror, then no contravention has occurred.

This is the only PCN issued at this location for this contravention in 3 years. It it going to be fought all the way to the tribunal.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard