22 September 2013

CPZ refunds coming soon

Manyana (beach)
Mr Mustard always thought the 8 weeks and everyone will be paid out promise was going to be hard to meet and since his claim was acknowledged on 5 August (one of the first to claim probably) he has heard diddly squat.

He is grateful to the friend who brought this Delegated Powers Report to his attention (are they not still numbered nowadays?)

Civica - Parking Refunds Contract Award by MisterMustard

Mr Mustard is well known for pulling officers up who break the rules and issue single supplier purchase order arrangements (they often forget the actual contract) but in this case he perfectly understands and agrees with the logic. In addition, the Civica proposed fee seems reasonable and they don't look like they have tried to abuse their monopolistic position.

Mr Mustard notes that of four officers mentioned on the front cover of the DPR, two are interims. He does hope we are soon going to have an absolute minimum of interims and consultants now that most of the "transformation" has been decided upon. Using the paragraph numbers of the report Mr Mustard has the following observations:

3.2 That would be the advertising done by the CPZ campaigners, BAPS, Bloggers and the LidDems in High Barnet (not sure who else). Mr Mustard hasn't seen anything from the council other than on the website which somebody who has moved out of borough is unlikely to look at. Have you had a permit renewal reminder in the last month? Did it have a note saying you might be due a refund? Do please comment below if it did.

3.3 If only the council had said this at the beginning "every effort will be made to contact them" i.e. residents who are due a refund.

5.2 If all 12,000 applications are made that will be a cost of about £7 per refund.

8.7 Mr Mustard doubts that all refunds will be made within 8 weeks of the decision not to contest the judgment, which was made on 2 August. Perhaps this means within 8 weeks of the DPR i.e within 8 weeks of 3 September?

This DPR did set Mr Mustard thinking. Civica will not have entered into a contract which could lose them money and so will doubtless have allowed for the worst case scenario that all 12,000 refund applications will be made. They are therefore confident that they can process a refund for less than £7. 

The council could ensure they get value for money by taking out advertisements in the 3 local papers (include the Ham & High as it has readers from Barnet) one in Barnet First (the odd person must actually read it) put a flyer in with every document from the parking department and NSL, a footnote on every email from the council (instead of that stupid one about saving the environment - Mr Mustard can decide for himself what he wants to print thank you very much) in the advertising hoardings around the borough and on the backs of buses. Traffic wardens could also put helpful leaflets on every car they pass which is sporting a CPZ permit.

The question that we then need to ask is at what cost they could process an application for a permit? There are documents to check so let us allow another £3 for the brief time that should take (a logbook say and a proof of address) and we have a cost to process a permit of £10. We are charged £40 for a permit so aren't they still being used for revenue raising?

I feel a judicial review coming on if the council vote for even an inflationary increase to the cost of a permit.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. Can I suggest giving a bit more credit to Barnet councillors who agreed to repay these unlawful PCNs (parking taxes/fines.)

    It's fashionable these days for politicians to apologise for their cock-ups. Even if what sounds like an apology turns out to be a fauxpology. (E.g. "I'm sorry if you are upset about this".) But it really isn’t easy to admit and take responsibility for your mess. And worse, have to undo it.

    Worse still, repay real money. After all it's the Council's money, isn't it? Even if it's actually lifted from residents' pockets.

    Compare my own Haringey. In 2008 it became clear that over two years, the borough had issued 3,746 PCNs on two unlawful yellow box junctions outside the Arriva Garage in Philip Lane N17. http://bit.ly/1f9YjKh
    (They'd probably issued many more for an almost certainly unlawful yellow box junction outside the bus garage in Wood Green. http://bit.ly/1b8lsHE)

    In Philip Lane, Haringey continued to issue PCNs even after they knew the boxes were probably unlawful. They carried on regardless, after it was confirmed the boxes were definitely unlawful. And what-do-you-know, a few PCNs were issued even after staff got specific instructions to stop issuing them there.

    One response of Haringey staff was to ask the Department for Transport to retrospectively approve the unlawful boxes. The DfT refused.

    The next tactic by Haringey's senior officers and former "cabinet" councillor Brian Haley, was to brief a barrister. From a brief summary of her Opinion councillors were told that she had confirmed the boxes were unlawful. But said that the PCNs were not "void" but "voidable". Motorists had not challenged their legality. So - how fortunate - Haringey didn't need to repay the money.

    And Haringey never did. Not a penny. Not even to people who got PCNs after the Council knew they were unlawful and instructed staff not to issue them.

    More fortunately it turned out that Haringey senior staff had never told former councillor Brian Haley that this dubious business was going on. So he carried no responsibility for the mess.

    Many decades ago I was a lawyer - we all have our shameful secrets. I knew that the "Opinion" you get from a barrister can depend on the documents you send in the "Brief". So as a councillor I asked to see her Opinion. Surprisingly they agreed'. But their offer to let me peep behind the curtain had conditions attached. I couldn’t take a copy. Nor could I tell anybody about its "privileged" and "confidential" contents.

    Haringey know that I don't disclose confidential documents. So this is a useful dodge for gagging me and other curious councillors. And keeping the Council’s dirty secrets safely under wraps. (I've fallen for this dodge a couple of times.)

    I declined their kind offer and instead went on TV for ten seconds calling this "highway robbery". The Labour Group whips were not happy. But you can't please everyone.

    I emailed former Cllr Brian Haley asking if he would at least make a public statement explaining why they refused to repay people. He never replied to me and no public statement was issued. (Brian later joined the LibDems and stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for them. According to a local paper he was also in discussions with the Tories. I imagine we'll be hearing from him again one of these days.)

    So let's hear the sound of at least one hand clapping for the Barnet Tories who publicly admit they are parking chumps.

  2. I am not sure, actually I am Alan, that there is any more moraility in Barnet than there is in Haringey when it comes to parking tickets and I propose to test it with the Ombudsman. I expect we are at least 12 months off a resolution on that.


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.