19 July 2012

When sorry seems to be the hardest word

So the video (Mr Mustard is very grateful to Dan at the Barnet Bugle)  above is of the Audit Committee on 21 June and 5 minutes into the recording Bill Murphy is heard to clearly say ( well what passes as clearly for mumbler Bill ) that people can "come into" ( i.e. telephone ) customer services to "challenge their penalty notice"

Now Mr Mustard knew that this was complete and utter nonsense and as Bill obviously didn't know the answer he should have said so, as he had done to an earlier question. Maybe though he didn't want to appear to be so ignorant of the workings of his own department. If could of course have been a new policy of the "better service for less money" kind, or "putting the community first" but are only empty phrases. Thus on Saturday 23 June Mr Mustard sent Bill "Bullshit" Murphy an email:

Dear Mr Murphy

At the Audit Committee on Thursday evening chaired by Cllr Lord Monroe Palmer ("Monroe") you answered a short series of questions about scanning and parking documents in general.

When Monroe enquired about other outsourced parking services you told him that people can still call customer services to challenge a parking ticket/PCN and that this was going to be outsourced. The website at this page does not inform the public that they can challenge parking tickets by calling customer services at the council and it would be most informative if it did.

I have sent a copy of this email to the other Mr Palmer as I believe he is in overall charge of the website.

He received a holding reply the same day (no Dear Sir / Yours etc - this is the entire message )

Thanks. I will look into it. Have a good weekend.

and then on 5 July this

Dear Mr Mustard,

I am sorry I did not get back o (sic) you last week but I'm afraid I was not available. In answer to your question:-

Residents can appeal or query a PCN by writing to the following address:

Barnet Parking Service
PO Box 4894
BN11 9WT 
Mr Mustard knew this.

They can also appeal against a PCN online via the following page on our website:

and this

Quite a few people do phone in on 0208 359 7446 - where we then advise them of the process for appealing (so there is demand for a telephone based appeal service about which you will probably do nothing). So you are technically right that we do not actually process the appeal by phone - but we do provide advise on how to appeal. No you don't - you provide advice. Mr Mustard's bold emphasis.

I hope this is helpful.

Bill Murphy
Assistant Director, Customer Services

As an aside those web page addresses, known as URL, Uniform Resource Locator, are far too long. They appear in the Notice to Owner and people are expected to copy them into their browser one character at a time. Barnet Council says they are customer centric. If you were customer centric you would provide a short URL (permanent ones are available) like this one http://v.gd/ourbarnet which is a link to the last blog that Mr Mustard wrote. Come on, Barnet Council, wake up and get with the programme.

Now let us consider Bill's mealy mouthed reply ("technically correct" my foot). He said that one could appeal a ticket by phoning in and then he lists the ways that appeals can actually take place which do not include phoning in. You were wrong Bill and you have mislead the committee. Your reply is below the standard that one would expect of an Assistant Director who we have to pay £570 for, every single day that you work, to Hays HR.

You should look in the mirror and ask yourself. Is the council tax payer getting good value for his £570? Mr Mustard would say not.

Ask yourself if you know enough about Customer Services to be in charge of it and making massive organisational change? No, again Mr Mustard would suggest.

Mr Mustard does hope that you have written to the committee to apologise to them for having given them the wrong answer as, if not, you should already be getting your coat and leaving Barnet.

Remember for future meetings that a public gallery full of bloggers might well know more than you do so before bull-shitting again, stop and consider your words carefully. We don't want another episode like this one, now do we? 

(You might need to practice giving straight and accurate answers as there is always the chance that you will get called for a grilling about "town hall tax dodgers" by the Public Accounts Committee. I can't see the rapier-like Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP letting you off with any nonsense answers)

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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