7 May 2014

PATAS adjudicators do have hearts

When an adjudicator decides that a certain decision is the correct one, and they are constrained to follow the strict application of parking law, will go out of their way to find a good reason for their decision (this has worked against Mr Mustard recently but he did understand why) and here is a classic example.

The Appeal decision was as follows:

Mr R's car was parked in a bay which was either payment by phone or pay and display. Whilst the Council can verify that no payment to park was made by phone, they cannot show that no payment was made to park at the pay and display machine.

The CEO's images show that there was no pay and display ticket on display in the windscreen of the car but this does not mean that no payment to park had been made. The car was being used by an elderly lady. Her son says that she has a blue badge which was not displayed. She could just as easily have purchased a pay and display ticket and forgotten to display it or not displayed it properly. I am not satisfied that the alleged contravention occurred.

What happened next is very unusual, Barnet Council (probably someone at NSL) decided to ask for a Review of the decision in "the interests of justice". The Review was heard by Mr Edward Houghton (Mr Mustard likes arguing with Mr Houghton who recently rehearsed all of Mr Mustard's arguments aloud for him like a one man play in which he was playing two parts and the play was about the signs in Green Lanes, Palmers Green and then he allowed the Appeal) who has more year's of experience than he would probably like to see in print and hasn't lost his appetite for parking tickets or justice. Here is his decision on the Review:

This case comes before me as an application by the enforcement authority for  review of the decision of my learned colleague Mr Stanton-Dunne allowing the Appeal. His decision was essentially made on the basis that there was insufficient evidence that no payment had in fact been made. The Council submits that the Adjudicator could not reasonably have come to this conclusion on the evidence before him.

It seems to me, with respect, that the Adjudicator's finding cannot be supported (Mr Mustard thinks "supported" got in here in error and the word should have been "faulted" or similar). The evidence that payment had been made, i.e a P&D ticket was not seen on the vehicle, and had not been produced at any later stage. The Appellant himself did not state that payment had been made but based his case entirely on the failure of an elderly lady to display her disabled badge on this occasion. Whilst it is of course not wholly impossible that payment had been made it seems to me that the Adjudicator could not reasonably come to any conclusion other than that, on the evidence provided, the balance of probabilities was that it had not.

However the Council seeks review on the basis of the interests of justice. This is a case of a 90 year old lady showing signs of dementia who forgot to display the disabled badge that would allow the vehicle to park. It seems to me that the circumstance would in any event have justified an exceptionally strong recommendation that the penalty should not be enforced and it is not in the interests of justice to interfere with a decision that gives effect to that.

So basically Barnet Council, acting by its contractor NSL, is quite happy to put a 90 year old lady through the wringer, not once, but twice.

"Lousy scumbags", would that sum up your feelings?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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