So it is the 1st of the month and you have received a parking ticket or a bus lane contravention. You accept you were in the wrong and want to take advantage of the 50% discount but you are stony broke at the moment. If you pay the amount now you will be short of food or travel to work money. What do you do?
(First of all if the PCN is for parking and sent to you by post you either have to pay the 50% amount within 14 days or the full amount within 28 days. You can slow down the full amount but you lose the chance to pay at a discount.)
The 14 days starts from the date of the PCN and includes the first day, so for a PCN issued on 1 June the 14th day will be the 14 June (i.e. add 13 to the date). You can appeal using the council's computer which is a horrible straitjacket and doesn't give you a copy of your challenge, so Mr Mustard almost never uses it.
You can appeal by post but somehow they can "go missing" so Mr Mustard uses the signed for service to be sure.
Best of all is to use the email method. They don't directly advertise this on the council website or put it on the PCN but do accept representations by this method as that is how all of Mr Mustard's are done.
If writing Mr Mustard would wait only until day 10 and then send in your challenge.
If using the on-line system or email he would still only go as far as day 12 or 13 and then send in the challenge.
In theory this freezes the PCN from progressing until the council reply. They try to do this within 14 days but often don't manage to do so. Then they must re-offer the 14 days discount period again. If they don't they have committed a procedural impropriety (otherwise known as a blunder) and then you might as well appeal through the next two stages (in response to the Notice to Owner and after that if rejected to PATAS) which will take another 3 to 6 months and give you more time to pay up should you lose. Do ask Mr Mustard for advice if this happens to you.
If they do offer the discount again then you are most probably into the month of July and got past payday and achieved your objective.
There is always the chance that your challenge will be accepted and the PCN cancelled and then you won't have to pay anything at all. Some recent figures show, although Mr Mustard has asked for them to be looked at again as he thinks they are wrong, that of 1354 initial challenges to PCN in March 14, 252 of those PCN were subsequently cancelled (although not necessarily straight away) so that is about a 1 in 6 chance.
The more that PCN are challenged the less profitable it becomes for the council. Together we can make them behave more reasonably.