8 October 2012

Vouching for the vouchered


The following email was sent to the "leader" of Barnet Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, on the evening of Saturday 6 October (whilst it was to the forefront of Mr Mustard's mind) and copied to the other 62 councillors (sorry to spoil your evening with work councillors, well those of you that don't delete Mr Mustard's emails on arrival, that is). It is far too early for a reply and Mr Mustard gets a reply only some of the time. Mr Mustard is sure that Mr Cornelius, being a polite chap wants to reply, but knows that if his reply is not robust enough, rather like the typical Barnet Council contract, always assuming one exists, Mr Mustard will forensically dissect his reply and write again. Do you remember the Longstaff letters - Mr Mustard never heard from Goldenarse again (Mr Mustard often finds his letters get placed into the too difficult pile) although he half expects to bump into him in Cafe Buzz one day now that he has found out how good the food is there.

Dear Cllr Cornelius

I am writing to you to tell you that I have today witnessed first hand that the parking vouchers are not the solution to the parking payment problem. Nor is pay-by-phone as they both suffer from the problem of delay which leaves motorists vulnerable to receiving a parking ticket (PCN) during the period in which they are paying.

Today I was in Cafe Buzz enjoying a late lunch (cheese and mushroom omelette with salad, the omelette was light and fluffy, you should try one some time) when a lady came in. She went to the counter and asked for a parking permit and after being asked opted for a 1 hour permit. As she went outside I heard a commotion. A traffic warden was issuing a ticket and was deaf to the explanation of the lady who was waving her voucher around. The traffic warden finished off the issuance of the parking ticket and went on her way. So, as it happens, did the lady. She did not return to the cafe to buy any food or drink.

Forget that it happens to be Cafe Buzz, I also frequent Dorys Cafe in High Barnet which has also suffered a huge drop in trade since meters were removed.

The potential lady customer did not come back into Cafe Buzz. She is a regular so will appear on a future date and I will be a witness to what happened and assist her with her appeal which should not, of course, be necessary.

Now you are a polite man. Imagine that you do not have a free permit and that you have to pay for your parking. You turn up and park your car near to a cafe or shop somewhere in Barnet. Firstly you have to find a shop which sells these vouchers. You may be unlucky in the first place that you try. You reach the second one, the clock is ticking. There are two people in front of you, the first one is paying for their meal and the second is placing their order, they are undecided and it takes a minute or so. You are too polite to butt in and ask for a parking voucher, I would be the same (council business is not more important in a shop or cafe than their own turnover). There is no requirement to observe your car in a pay-by-phone bay for longer than is necessary to issue the ticket which is a fast process. So you get back to your car and you find a parking ticket affixed to the windscreen. Are you mad? yes you are, as you have paid for your parking.

Now you are locked in a battle with a faceless corporation to get a ticket, that should not have been issued, cancelled. Can you feel the injustice? the waste of time, the High Streets of Barnet decaying, the voters changing side?

Pay-by-phone has the same flaw as a traffic warden can issue a ticket faster than you can pay. I don't think you tweet but you really need to use twitter and see for yourself the tweets of people who have tried to pay-by-phone and driven off because they got cut off 4 times, or who have paid 2 minutes before the parking ticket was issued. Never mind "Labour isn't Working" (and I don't do politics with a big p) "parking isn't working" in Barnet.

You know what is needed. It is a payment method that is simple and instant. There is a popular machine that fits the bill. It is called a parking meter. Do you know they have some nowadays that take cash and credit cards and you find them right next to where you want to park. As I travel around the country I see them everywhere. Isn't it about time Barnet caught up and got some?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regasrds (sic)

Mr Mustard

Mr Mustard was using his laptop computer sitting on the sofa when he sent this and with the tiny 7" screen he didn't notice he had not spelled regards correctly but luckily most people won't notice and his phrase "potential lady customer" should have read "lady potential customer" as she did look like a lady. Please can you apologise to her Helen on behalf of Mr Mustard.

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