11 May 2014

Hold on a minute

Each month or so the Barnet Council parking department thin client side has a meeting with NSL, the enforcement contractor. The Internal Audit department has recently criticised the minutes as being insufficiently detailed, a view with which Mr Mustard concurs. He did wonder if it was because of him that the minutes were left a bit vague as he would pick up all the processing errors from the minutes and use them to get Appeals granted.

Mr Mustard has never thought that having a "thin" client side was a good idea. If you have a contractor you need to monitor them closely as otherwise it is possible they will take the wotsit and not perform in accordance with the contract.

NSL's performance at PATAS, the Parking & Traffic Appeals Services, has been lamentable at best and hilarious at worst and one adjudicator has simply said to Mr Mustard, after he gave one of their Evidence Packs a going over that led to a rapid cancellation of the PCN, "well, that is typical Barnet for you". Mr Mustard also sees Evidence Packs and the processing skills of other boroughs and NSL Barnet are certainly in the relegation play-offs.

In the pack of minutes for 2013 which Mr Mustard asked for in one of his nowadays rare Freedom of Information requests (only one official request this year with some other PCN representations wrongly being turned into FOI) was the following page which supposedly shows an average performance at PATAS (as your first argument in response to a PCN is an informal Challenge, the second in response to the Notice to Owner are your formal Representations and finally your third bite at the cherry is your Appeal to an adjudicator at PATAS).

If these statistics were correct this would be an acceptable level of performance.

DNC means Do not Contest and is when, even though the council might have turned down your informal challenge and your formal representations once they know that an independent adjudicator is going to look at the case that they think they will lose (or they have too many cases to prepare) and throw in the towel. What this tells you is that persistence pays. When the council tell you you were in the wrong, it doesn't mean that you were.The average London-wide DNC rate is 20% with the City topping the table at 40% and Enfield only giving up 7% of the time ( figures from 2012-13).

The won  / lost numbers are usually about the same so well done NSL, but 

Mr Mustard doesn't, based on many years of experience, trust statistics which help the party who produced them so he checked two days at random. Here is 17 December 12:

There were only 10 cases decided that day, not 24. Mr Mustard thought that was odd, so he checked another day, the 10 January 13, and here from the PATAS website, are the real numbers:

Mr Mustard sees nine Allowed Appeals (i.e. nine PCN were cancelled) and none were refused. Where those seven Refused Appeals got to that NSL are claiming is anybody's guess.

Mr Mustard thinks that the newly appointed Parking Manager will be looking much more closely at statistics from NSL from now on, especially as Mr Mustard will be looking over his shoulder at them. Mr Mustard does hope that no KPI payments were based upon false statistics.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

N.B. It is possible that Mr Mustard has got hold of the wrong end of the stick and that the date column when used by NSL is the date that they were notified of an Appeal and what the eventual outcome was (which would all be on differing dates) although those are much harder statistics to track.

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