10 July 2012

Not credit card worthy

There seem to be an infinite number of things wrong at Barnet Council with even the simplest administrative tasks seemingly beyond the ability of management.

Take "Residents Permits" for example (let's not mention the missing apostrophe as there is a grave shortage of them at the council. It might be better for all concerned if the wording was turned around to be Permits for Residents)

If you cannot renew your permit on-line for some reason then you need a form to post in. This is available at this page on the Barnet website.

If you click on "Residents Parking Permit Application Form" at the right of the screen you obtain a form that is version 3.1 from December 2011, viz

Residents Parking Permit Application Form December 2011

If you then click on the words "Residents Application Form" you get version 3.2 from June 2012

Residents Permit v3.2 June 2012

What did you notice. That if you use the December form the price is £100 and not £105. Mr Mustard will leave you to decide which form to download print out and send in. (I expect the Tooting twister who is in overall charge of the website will leap into action and correct this error pretty quickly so the form may not be available from the council website for long - you can download it from here though - nudge nudge wink wink) (Mr Mustard has just remembered that Barnet Homes, a Barnet Council ALMO, have a subsidiary called "Your Choice" - well this is your chance to have a choice which you don't normally)

Did you want to pay by credit card? You can't. Parking has gone cashless (almost) you know. Now it seems to have gone credit card less as well. Look, here is an older version of the form in the middle of a long report.
Parking Permit Religious-Faith Duties

So someone has decided that if you pay by post you must be such a luddite that you don't have a credit card. Is this reasonable or equitable? No, of course it isn't. Sometimes when you buy a replacement vehicle that is the only way that you can pay for the new permit as happened to Mr Mustard recently who then found his cheque book, knocked the dust off and wrote one out.

Is it right that you should then be penalised £5 because the council's systems can't cope? No, of course not.

Is a two tier pricing structure bonkers? Yes it is. A cheque costs nothing to clear and the credit card merchant will charge about 2% so if anything the person paying by cheque should pay less.

Have councillors collectively decided upon this new policy? Not that Mr Mustard has noticed.

Has there been an "Officer decision" recorded in a Delegated Powers Report of this new policy? Again, not as Mr Mustard has noticed. (Feel free to tell Mr Mustard is wrong and he will correct any errors).

Does this new policy fit well with the One Barnet key principles?

A relentless drive for efficiency? Doesn't look like it does it going back to a method that has been around since the 9th century and which was until recently being phased out, except in Barnet where it is being phased back in.

Delivering more choice for better value? Oh dear me no. Less choice is being offered.

A citizen-centric council? No, you must do it the way that some faceless individual has decided upon.

Can you add this into your parking review please Councillor Dean Cohen (I have dropped you an email)

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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