|No fault by the Royal Mail - they deliver the paid for service|
A few months back, Cllr David Longstaff, otherwise christened Goldenarse by Mrs Angry (not because he bears any resemblance to a James Bond character in Goldeneye but because of an acting part in his show reel which showed him with a gold painted posterior, sorry about the imagery) went to Coventry to the Crapita call centre at Coventry. Slightly naughty Mr Mustard tweeted the question as to whether the staff there had ever heard of the councillor (thinking they were sure not to have) and back came the reply that yes they had (well of course Goldenarse is so important they would have) and they had also heard of Mr Mustard which Mr Mustard thought was unlikely. It would have been wise though of the council to have given the call centre a list of VIPs (very irritating persons) which would have included the bloggers and local troublesome cafe and sweetshop owners, the BAPS committee members etc. but no, that would be too sensible.
Anyway, Mr Mustard collected a car (his first ever Mercedes, 4 years old & very nicely made) on 25 November as he is spending a lot of his life on motorways at the moment.
On 25 November he made a permit application and uploaded his insurance etc. documents.
On 26 November Mr Mustard was busy but no-one rang to say his application was accepted and he could pay now.
On 27 November at 18:40 (real work got in the way again) he paid on-line having checked for himself if his application had resulted in an "offer". Mr Mustard looked to see if he could print his permit out at home as he had been able to the previous year. The option had quietly disappeared which is a typical council trick whereas those people who had previously relied on this method should be told in advance. This page on the councils website still says you can
but council management tell Mr Mustard you can't (expect the website will be updated once this blog post is read by the council).
Just going back to 25 November for a moment, Mr Mustard phoned the parking department line, which is answered by Capita in Coventry, and asked if he could pay and for a dispensation. Mr Mustard couldn't pay as the documents weren't yet showing, apparently they take up to 24 hours to become visible on the server when that should really be instant in this day and age. Mr Mustard's ears pricked up (usually they just stick out) when he was told that he couldn't have a dispensation and he politely asked why not. Because now it is only for a change of vehicle or a change of address. Apparently last month too many were given out to residents who were not renewing their permits on time (could this be because the council aren't sending out reminders? cause and effect) and so they were giving out "too many dispensations". Mr Mustard having purchased a second vehicle was not in that category but still couldn't have one and yet since then a friend, a troublesome cafe owner, was late in renewing and was given one (and no, she didn't receive a reminder and yes, you do take your coffee in Cafe Buzz, N12 don't you?). Mr Mustard asked if the parking manager (meaning the Barnet Council one, knew about the new policy) and was then very helpfully given the name of the Capita Parking Services Manager which Mr Mustard has filed away for later use.
Mr Mustard was parked outside of the zone all this time which means he had a 10 minute walk to his car and back although it did mean that he met three ladies walking their dogs, one of whom was his neighbour and expressed surprise that Mr Mustard of all people wasn't given a permit, and one other lovely lady said "oh, you're that famous man aren't you" well, not in Coventry is all Mr Mustard can say.
Back to the calendar.
On 1 December the printed permit arrived at Mustard Mansions. It came with a letter dated 27 November in an envelope that was post-marked 28 November. It was sent second-class. Mr Mustard has paid £70 and expects first-class service at all times. Things got worse. The permit had an expiry date of 25 November which means that Mr Mustard had been short-changed by £1.15 worth of permit. Multiply that up by 12,000 permits a year and a nice profit is made for the council. Anyone who paid more slowly than Mr Mustard could have been robbed of more days of validity.
On 3 December Mr Mustard received the letter saying his application for a permit had been accepted. It was in a letter dated 27 November and again sent second class in an envelope post marked 1 December. What a palaver.
Needless to say Mr Mustard took his concerns up with the real parking management. They were not happy. They didn't seem to know that changes had been made and they think that permits should be sent out first class, that the permit should expire a year and two days after the posting of the permit, that on line printing should be made available but that would have to wait its turn in software development and other councils would also need to ask for such a function.
This function of permits was clearly out sourced in a half baked manner by the commissioners who possibly didn't know the subtle nuances of parking permit renewals. Parking itself, the thin client side (getting thinner with all the worry caused by having to answer to Mr Mustard?) are now on the case and when they update Mr Mustard with any good news, he will tell you.
Now just before you go why not pop outside and check the expiry date of your permit and then go here to renew if it has expired. You'll need to phone the council to get a PIN as clearly your renewal letter has not reached you.