31 January 2013

NSL traffic warden - incompetent or a cheat?

Dear xxxx (name redacted by Mr Mustard)

Oh dear, a rotten case for you to read about this morning and one which, if you cancel the ticket quickly, will reflect well on you and remedy some of the bad publicity that Barnet Council is about to get.

In the good old coins (days!), when we had cash parking meters, if a meter was out of order the motorist was expected to find the next nearest one and get a ticket from there and there was no question of a parking ticket being issued. When we changed to pay-by-phone the rules were deviously changed and this has given the council more opportunity to issue Penalty Charge Notices which are the mainstay of the special parking account. If you now pay using the wrong bay number you get ticketed as not having paid (for the correct location which may be as small as a 1 car space, 2 in this particular instance) and people take their cases to PATAS and usually lose on this point (although they may still get their ticket cancelled for some other reason). All errors (this word should have been "appeals")  to Barnet Council for innocent error are pretty much automatically construed against the motorist. The most extreme example of this was seen in the PATAS case 2120534362 when a motorist lost his appeal to the independent adjudicator, the first digit of the bay code being wrongly entered and the motorist ending up paying for parking somewhere in Canada, an obvious injustice, the system having been negligently designed in not stopping such an eventuality.

Now what if the traffic warden makes an error, or deliberately photographs the wrong bay in order to issue a PCN for non-payment. I think that compensation of the equivalent amount (£60 in this case, £30 if you pay within 14 days) should be made to the motorist who has been subjected to stress, inconvenience & time-wasting or is the subject of an attempted fraud.

Here are the two photographs from the council website. The first one clearly shows the vehicle parked on the south side of Percy Rd

and this next one shows the north side of Percy Rd.

As soon as I saw these photos I knew that the warden had used the wrong bay sign (whether accidentally in which case they aren't fit to do the job, or deliberately in which case they should be sacked as we don't want a cheat working on our behalf in Barnet) and here is the proof in the form of two more photographs that I took yesterday.

This photo clearly shows Cafe Buzz and the adjacent hairdressers which you can match to the council's photo with the car in it.

and here from the other side of the road, is the bay sign with the yellow computer sign on the wall behind it.

There has been an epidemic of missing PCN cases at PATAS and in this case the PCN went missing from the car. I have heard stories of traffic wardens issuing PCN, taking photos and then removing the tickets and walking off. I ask myself if that happened in this case?

It is clear though from the blacked out sign that the traffic warden was desperate to issue a ticket and so crossed the road and deliberately photographed the wrong sign. Now before you say that the sign has been blacked out since the parking ticket was issued (which wouldn't in any event explain why the traffic warden crossed the road) I will tell you that I go to Cafe Buzz most weeks (the breakfasts are excellent, I'll buy you one at Cafe Buzz some time if you would like to meet and discuss parking enforcement, gifts below £25 do not need to be published on the council website but should go in your directorate's local record). When I go there I try and use any blacked out bays and I photograph my vehicle and the sign every time that I do so. I therefore have a collection of photographs of that sign and here is one from 15 November 2012

which is the identical paint splodge to now, so the sign has been like that for months.

Now the unfortunate thing about this particular parking ticket is that it is for the car of Helen Michael, the owner of Cafe Buzz, and given that she has led the North Finchley traders' vocal opposition to the removal of parking meters and the massive hike in charges, this ticket could look like an act of retaliation as the over-zealous wardens that operate in North Finchley will have frequently seen her unloading, parking or driving her distinctive car.

The question is why traffic wardens would feel any need to cheat? There is huge pressure on parking income, it is viewed as a revenue stream (no matter what fine words are issued to the contrary) as otherwise when income dropped there would have been no need for a Parking Recovery Plan to be devised. The question is whether any such pressure comes from the Cabinet member, the Director of EPR, the Assistant Director of Highways, the parking client side contract manager, the NSL contract manager, or parking supervisor?

Mr Mustard will be blogging about this later on today. The sooner you squash the ticket the better you will look. In the unlikely event that you don't cancel an obviously unjust ticket it will be pursued all the way to PATAS and costs will be claimed for wholly unreasonable behaviour by the council. This PCN has the old invalid wording as well, just for good measure.

Best regards

Mr Mustard

since writing this blog the sign has been changed.

Update Thursday 31 January 2013

The response from the parking section at Barnet Council

Dear Mr Mustard

I have raised this with the appropriate manager at NSL Services and they have since confirmed that the Penalty Charge Notice was issued in error. This was due to an oversight on the part of the Civil Enforcement Officer and NSL have confirmed that the appropriate action will be taken. I confirm that the Penalty Charge Notice has been cancelled.

I have noted the request for compensation, and I would advise that an appropriate remedy has been applied in that the Penalty Charge Notice has now been cancelled as in line with our statutory obligation.

With regards to the Penalty Charge Notice wording, I can confirm that the matter is currently under review and therefore I am not in a position to make any comments at this time.

Kind regards
Redacted by Mr Mustard
Full marks to the council employee who saw that the proverbial was going to hit the fan and leapt into action. 6 hours 25 minutes to stop the rot.

What a laugh (except that attempted fraud is serious)  the parking ticket was "issued in error".
If you make an error it costs you £60 or £110. If the council make one they just walk away and think that the "remedy" of giving you nothing except to cancel the parking ticket that you shouldn't have been given is compensation enough! This was maladministration at the very least, a bunch of flowers wouldn't have gone amiss or a personal letter of apology signed by the traffic warden.

Mr Mustard has no idea what the review of parking ticket wording is concerned with so he will find out. He does know that every parking ticket issued from April 08 to early December 12 was non-compliant and would be cancelled if it got as far as PATAS. You have appealed haven't you?

Issuing 160,000 parking tickets a year is not making Barnet a better place, they are only issued because the council is addicted to the near £7m a year that is the profit from parking and parking tickets contribute most of it. The goose that lays the golden egg is well and truly in danger of being shot. We want our High Streets to survive, they need help not this sort of hindrance.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. This is a common practice - The CEO do this kind of thing day in ,day out.


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