18 August 2018

Gross incompetence

The 18T weight limit sign is clear enough

No enforcement authority sends representatives to the tribunal more often than Southwark. Mr Mustard doesn't fight many Southwark PCNs but expects to see one or two representatives when he does. They are always happy to chat, and good at what they do and Mr Mustard always enjoys it when they turn up & a good clean fight ensues. Honours are pretty even so far.

Now it may be that on the day in question that none of the, at least 4, regular representatives were available but more likely Mr Mustard thinks they realised they were going to lose so didn't waste time attending. Mr Musatrd suddenly thought to check the register. There were two other cases decided on 22 June which were attended between them by 3 different representatives of Southwark Council so staff were available. Bwak Bwak Bwaaak.

Here is the decision which was made on 22 June.
At this scheduled personal hearing the appellant Company were represented by Mr Scott Sharkey but the Enforcement Authority did not attend and were not represented. The Enforcement Authority had previously indicated that they would be attending but have today contacted the Hearing Centre to say that no one will attend.

A contravention can occur if a vehicle is driven so as to fail to comply with a prohibition on certain vehicles.

There appears to be no dispute that the vehicle was in Tower Bridge Road, as shown in the closed circuit television (cctv) images produced by the Enforcement Authority.

The Enforcement Authority state in their case summary “It is not permitted for a vehicle which has a MGW [maximum gross weight] of 18 tonnes to drive through a restriction prohibiting vehicles with a MGW of 18 tonnes, regardless of whether the un-laden weight is lower than the restriction. The line is drawn at the MGW to avoid drivers guessing whether their load at that time is below the restriction and posing what could possibly be a detrimental effect on the road network.”

This is wholly incorrect. The sign at the location shown in the images produced by the Enforcement Authority is a permitted variant of that prescribed by Diagram 622.1A at Item 13 in Part 2 of Schedule 3 to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 for the restriction that goods vehicles exceeding the maximum gross weight indicated are prohibited.

Indeed, this complies with the A100 GLA Road (Weight Restriction) Traffic Order 2003, Article 4 of which provides that except as provided in Article 6, no person shall cause any goods vehicle the maximum gross weight which exceeds 18 tonnes to enter or proceed in the lengths of road listed.

The plating certificate, a copy of which was supplied to the Enforcement Authority by the Appellant Company and the original of which I have been shown today, confirms that the gross weight of this vehicle is 1800 [kilograms] which is 18 tonnes. (18,000 kilos?)

The Enforcement Authority further state in the case summary “The vehicle had a forklift truck on the back on the vehicle which exceeds the weight limit.” Again, this is incorrect. The gross vehicle weight includes all parts of the vehicle and everything carried on or it in. This is what the term ‘gross’ means.

Considering all the evidence before me carefully I find that the Appellant Company have no case to answer and the Enforcement Authority have failed to show that a contravention could have occurred.

This appeal must be allowed.

Unsurprisingly, the Appellant, a truck company, applied for costs.
Regulation 12(1) of the Road Traffic (Parking Adjudicators) (London) Regulations 1993¸ being the relevant provisions in this regard, provides that the adjudicator shall not normally make an order awarding costs and expenses against any party. The Adjudicator can only make such an award if he is of the opinion that that party has acted frivolously or vexatiously or that his conduct in making, pursuing or resisting an appeal was wholly unreasonable; or against the local authority, where it considers that the disputed decision was wholly unreasonable.

I decided this substantive appeal by making findings of fact and applying the law as it stands.

At the original personal hearing the Appellant Company’s representative made a detailed application for costs in the sum of £199, being £142 for the return fare from Swindon of the representative who attended the hearing that day and three hours preparation for the case, being £57 at the rate of £19 per hour allowed to a self-represented litigant under rule 45.39(5)(b) and rule 46.5(4)(b) of the Civil Procedure Rules.

Regulation 12(2) provides that an order shall not be made under paragraph (1) against a party unless that party has been given an opportunity of making representations against the making of the order. Accordingly, on 25 June 2018 the Enforcement Authority were informed of the application in order to make representations. They have failed to make any.

For the reasons fully set out in my original decision I found that the appellant Company had no case to answer and the Enforcement Authority had failed to show that a contravention could have occurred.

Considering everything before me carefully I find that resisting this appeal was wholly unreasonable.

According, I award costs in the sum sought of £199.

That should make Southwark Council more careful in future.
What they had done was to reject a perfectly reasonable challenge.
Then they opposed a perfectly reasonable Appeal to the tribunal.
They ducked out of the hearing.
They caused an employee to lose most of a day's work travelling to and from Swindon.
They didn't oppose the granting of costs but disrespectfully to the tribunal, did not say so.
Southwark Council got what they deserved.

Professionalism in parking? A long way to go.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


15 August 2018

all Betts off at Suzuki

This is a blog post by Derek Dishman, the real person behind Mr Mustard, so is written in the first person.

I am in the market for a new car as I have done a lot of miles this year in my lovely Audi A3 due to commuting to Kettering from Barnet. I can buy what I like but do consider what my girlfriend or lady co-director would be happy driving.

I've looked at a few cars and got myself a shortlist of 4 completely different cars.

On Monday I popped to Glyn Hopkins at St Albans to test drive an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. A fine car, very similar to my A3, and on the short list.

Today I had arranged through Suzuki head office to test drive a Vitara S at Anthony Betts at Water End just north of Hemel Hempstead (it turns out). When I tested the Alfa on Monday they simply took a photocopy of my driving licence and then I was handed the keys, and with a salesman in the passenger seat, out we went for a quick circuit of local roads. No fuss, no drama, no pressure.

Oh dear me, it was so much different at Anthony Betts. I told the young salesman that I was interested in the S model, a manual petrol car. I was going to pay by cash and trade in my Audi A3. He mentioned the 0% finance deal, I said it was of no interest. I gave him my driving licence to photocopy. Then he said he had to read a screen of blurb to me from Automotive Compliance. No you don't, I said, as I don't want credit, I don't want gap insurance and I don't want anything they may have to offer. I just want to test drive a car which I haven't yet decided if I will buy or not and if I do I will simply give you the money for it.

This is what Automotive Compliance are about, upselling, you can forget it in my case

I do not want finance, HP, a lease, a PCP nor GAP insurance nor anything else you are selling, I simply want to buy a car in the same way I would a bottle of wine. I give you money, you give me a car or a bottle of wine, preferably a car if that is what I paid for.

This caused some consternation as I had departed from the script. I was told I had to agree to this to get a test drive. I read the blurb. I pointed out that it said I had to agree to my data going to Automotive Compliance* ('AC'), which I didn't, as I wasn't asking for any of their products, all I wanted to do was test drive a car and then if I liked it, pay by cash. I would have no relationship with AC and therefore my data did not need to go to them. I was starting to get mad at the misrepresentation which was occurring and which most of the public wouldn't understand.

I told the young salesman that I would not be agreeing to involving AC in any way, least of all giving my data to them. He said he would have to talk to his manager. OK I said. 5 or 10 minutes passed whilst I was left to stew. The salesman came back and said he had spoken to his Director who said I could have a test drive if I signed his pad, the one which said I didn't want credit, that confirmed I had refused to agree to the compliance statement about the credit I didn't want. At this point I decided enough was enough, I was too mad to test drive someone else's car, although calm enough in my own, and said I was leaving. I was polite to the young salesman and that I understood it wasn't his fault but that making me sign irrelevant documents was just too much for me.

Suzuki head office don't come out of this very well either. Firstly they sent me here.

which is a closed site, the dealer showroom being 6 miles away now. I was early so still made it to the dealer on time but it added stress that I did not need (I cannot stand being late to a meeting, even one with an ignorant dealership).

Secondly when phoning me to confirm the test drive they wanted to take me back through the marketing options which I had carefully declined earlier that day, by carefully leaving the four boxes unchecked

I don't need to go through my choices again less than 4 hours later, I know my own mind. It is as if Suzuki didn't like my choices so hoped I would change them, fat chance.

As it happens the Alfa dealer is part of a big chain which also has a Suzuki franchise so I will take a test drive there and then make my mind up what to buy.

One thing is certain is that I won't be buying it at Anthony Betts Ltd. The other dealer will be getting my business, whichever model it is I eventually choose.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

* I have sent a Subject Access Request to AC to see if any dealer has given them my details as whilst at the Countryfile Live show I also agreed to my details to be given to Jeep for the sole purpose of arranging a test drive. I haven't driven the Compass as it doesn't have a proper manual handbrake so fell off the list. The answer will be interesting from AC.

Update 15 August: I decided to put the car into CarWow and see what savings I could make.

One dealer has responded so far and has offered a discount of £840 if I take out a Personal Contract Purchase plan with 0% finance but a discount of £1,840 if I pay outright (less my trade in of course).

What we see from this is that 0% finance offers are not free. You pay for them by paying a greater capital sum for the car, a difference of £1,000.

14 August 2018

Inhumane homes

a Chicken run that you can buy from Omlet
Could you live in that space? We need to fight back against the conversion of offices into multiple occupation developments unless they are of reasonable size. Mr Mustard was idling through planning applications when he came across the proposed conversion of 2 Bruce Road EN5, an address just a few minutes walk from his house. A mid-sized office in that location should rent out easily at the right price. He thinks that it is over development and offers units which are far smaller than the proposed conversion of Barnet House which caused such a hue & cry last year and now looks positively spacious.

This is the building in question:

into which it is proposed to stuff nine dwellings. Here is the floor plan for the first floor (don't worry, Dory's does not form part of the redevelopment)

None of those rooms are larger than the hen coop, nor the two downstairs.

If you want to object to this ridiculous scheme, then the application is here.

Recently the plan for a hotel on the market site next door, was rejected. It is illuminating to see their proposed room sizes, which are of course only for short term occupation, not to live in for a long time.

They are typically twice the size of the planned HMO rooms. A HMO is not the best use of this lovely old building. Time for the owner to have a rethink, which they will have to if enough of you object and the council throw it out.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Sneaky Sunday charging

Sunday charging for parking not far from Finchley Central tube has quietly been introduced (almost opposite the Sainsbury's Local). Mr Mustard doesn't know if that policy change was consulted on or not. The old bay 9045 was split and the new bay 59117 created, a bay that is at times only for loading and at others you can pay to park there. The sort of bay that causes confusion, especially when you know that almost every other bay in Finchley Church End is payable Monday - Saturday only.

Here is the traffic order which introduced the new bay:

What strikes Mr Mustard as bizarre is that in front of the building (Gateway House) you have to pay to park on a Sunday and down the side of the building, you don't.

You know what to do? Park almost anywhere else.

It is possible that this was a drafting error by the Design Team, the change wasn't by design, boom boom.

As ever keep your eyes open and read the sign every time you park even if you think you know what it says, it may have changed.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

3 August 2018

Why motorists hate Barnet Council

So what you do as a council which is short of money is that you paint bays which are too short, then you fail to maintain the perimeter (let the shrubbery grow and the kerb stone fall in) and then when the motorist backs up as far as is reasonable in the circumstances you give them a parking ticket (PCN) for being outside of the bay.

Profiting (well trying to profit as this will be going to the tribunal and you'll lose Barnet Council) from your own incompetence is thoroughly unattractive Barnet Council as well as being procedurally unfair.

Mr Mustard has looked at his records for PCNs issued in 2018 by the same traffic warden which have been contested by Mr Mustard. The score is 3-0 to Mr Mustard.

This was one of them - ticket issued in the snow.

Another one was issued to Mr Mustard's friend for being in a suspended bay, but she was outside of it. The traffic warden in question, no. 5XX, is simply not up to the job.

Another resident who will be critical of the council if requested to give an opinion in a public perception survey.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Box junctions are tough on buses & lorries

To get a bus across a box junction without stopping and into a long enough space on the other side is tricky as smaller nimbler traffic, cars, can fill the empty space as soon as 5m is available beyond the box whereas a double decker bus needs at least 15m so the bus can sit there in lane 2 at the location in question

(cars in lane 1 should go left but some will go straight on) whilst those rowed up in lane 3 can 'steal' the 5m space one at a time and leave the bus unable to proceed legally.

It seems from the adjudicators decision above that in this case the bus driver entered when he did have room to exit so whatever happened next he could not be in contravention, no matter why and for how long he stopped. The council don't seem to understand this and blindly follow the assumption that if the computer thought it was a contravention, it must be one.

Whilst the rules of the road apply equally to buses and lorries, there needs to be some common sense applied for larger vehicles, and generally across London there is as Mr Mustard rarely sees bus companies taken to the tribunal for being stopped in a box junction. This is Barnet though, recently described to Mr Mustard in the following terms:

The overwhelming impression is that Barnet see every PCN as sacrosanct and that to cancel one is a personal defeat.

Mr Mustard knows that Barnet Council read & consider his tweets & blogs so maybe someone in management, with a less rigid approach, will apply the brakes to such cases in the future.

The council seem unable to link the way they behave in relentlessly pursuing unmeritorious PCNs with the poor public perception of the department in surveys. Doh!

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

a reminder of how to approach safely navigating, in financial terms, a box junction