3 August 2014

Inefficient permit renewal system leads to over efficient PCN issue

Capita Coventry worker at full speed
Barnet's team of traffic wardens start their shift
Mr Mustard has recently noticed a flurry of PCN issued due to non-renewal of permits. He has been asking questions about the efficiency of the Capita Coventry renewal system but not getting facts in the answers and that is all he is interested in, not subjective opinions. The council, in another astonishing piece of administrative incompetence caused by their rush to get into bed with Capita at almost every opportunity, passed blue badge renewals to them (see the 22 July Audit Committee reports)  without agreeing to a service level agreement i.e. we'll give you so much money per month or per badge (no idea which) and you Capita can do whatever you fancy, or don't fancy as the case may be and the same may well be true for permit renewals so that means Capita cannot be held to account for poor performance unless they choose to be and do you think they will choose that?

So if there aren't any rules (simple name for the SLA) about what service Capita have to provide and to what timescale this is the sort of email that Mr Mustard receives:

Dear Mr Mustard

We live in a CPZ area and have parking permits. My husband received a parking ticket. He contacted the parking office who told him that his permit had expired
(go and check your car windscreen now and then come back and read the rest of this blog post). They apologised for not sending out a reminder as is normal practise, but their computer has been broken for some weeks and so during this time no-one whose permit was due to expire received a reminder. This has resulted in many tickets being issued to permit holders like my husband.  After a lengthy conversation my husband was issued with a two week temporary permit number whilst his new permit was being processed. He was told that this could take up to two weeks.  Whilst they agreed that the parking ticket should be cancelled, they explained that they - permit office could not cancel the ticket and he would have to get in touch with the parking ticket office. Naturally, why make it simple!!

Meanwhile we have been away. Upon our return, no permit received in the post but another three tickets on the car.  My husband saw a parking attendant and asked him why he keeps getting tickets.  It would seem that the CPZ department issued my husband with a two week dispensation number – clearly displayed on his windscreen, but have not fed the information into their computer.  I suppose that the computer still isn’t working.

My husband will of course get in touch on Monday, ask for the tickets to be cancelled and enquire whether he will be receiving the permit that has been paid for, or continue to receive parking tickets that will have to be cancelled. It is all so terribly inefficient. My husband is a very busy man and this all takes far too much time.  I suggest that he receives compensation for his time and for aggravation.

Kind regards,

Mrs G

Now the first question is how quickly a permit should arrive. 5 days seems more than generous to Mr Mustard as that is what the DVLA can manage for your road fund licence (and they will be virtual permits from 1 October) and he doesn't really see why they can't be issued on the same day or the next day at the worst. The process is simple for a renewal, take the money and print the permit and once every 5 years check the entitlement. Why are Crapita making such a pig's ear of it and why weren't permits mentioned in the report back to the Performance and Contract Management Committee on 23 July as they were handled by the customer contact centre at Coventry and so within scope? Councillors should have asked this question.

The second is "shouldn't the council have a policy to automatically cancel PCN issued in these circumstances" if they can't stop them being issued in the first place. To get compensation the motorist will have to go all the way to PATAS as if the council accept either the informal (after the PCN) or formal (within 28 days of receiving the Notice to Owner) representations then he/she doesn't get the chance, and prove that the council has been vexatious, frivolous or wholly unreasonable in issuing the PCN - this is a tall order. It is rare for the council to admit wrong-doing. Mr Mustard's advice is to get yourself on the front of the local papers (with or without Mr Mustard!) as the council hate bad publicity and then give out compensation sometimes to show that the corporate heart is still beating (although it is actually just low cunning they are employing in Mr Mustard's humble opinion, a council does not have a heart when it comes to parking).

Have you received a PCN in these circumstances? Don't pay it.Send a copy to Mr Mustard with details of your permit expiry date and the date you paid for renewal and the date you received your permit, if you have, as he wants to get a bigger picture of this undoubted problem.

Have you paid for a PCN in these circumstances. Send the details to Mr Mustard for him to add to his statistics.

You can also complain to your local councillor. Find out who they are by putting your postcode into this website. The councillor in overall charge of parking is Dean Cohen. He needs to know about your stress, your time being wasted and the incompetence of Capita (he voted for this stupid deal) and you can email him at cllr.d.cohen@barnet.gov.uk

Please fight every PCN you get as it wouldn't be economic for the council if everyone did that, they would grind to a complete halt and slow down the issue of PCN to those few people who do deserve them.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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