13 April 2015

Camden Council FOI response sinks Camden Council PCN

So here we have it. A car, sporting a blue badge & clock, on Sunday 25 January in a pay-and-display (actually bound to also be pay-by-phone) bay that has been suspended as follows

Given that there isn't a workman in sight, on day four of the supposed works, the driver could have phoned up Camden Council on the given number (but they only answer it from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday so what use is that?) and asked if it was safe to park. Instead, the common sense decision was made that no harm was being done by parking there (Mr boring Mustard wouldn't have without being sure). Naturally along came a traffic warden who isn't paid to look at the situation and wonder if a PCN had any purpose other than revenue raising and after an observation period of just one minute, dished out a PCN.

Mr Mustard looked at the sign, which is in an authorised format and saw that he could argue that P&D Ref S07 was arguable as to location as he couldn't see SO7 anywhere. However he thought he would probably lose on that basis as the bay was signed along its length.

Mr Mustard first saw the PCN on Saturday 31 January 15.

On 2 February 15 he submitted a Freedom of Information request for job sheets, time sheets & invoices relating to the footway works which had supposedly been carried out.

On 5 February 15 he submitted an informal challenge to the PCN asking Camden Council to use their discretionary power to cancel the PCN as no works were apparent and so there was no traffic management purpose to the PCN.

The council's response was that a contravention had occurred so the PCN would stand. Here is part of the letter received, which often seem to Mr Mustard to have a holier than thou tone to them.

Mr Mustard suggested to his client that his magic powers were being stretched to breaking point in this case and that paying the 50% might be the best option. His client didn't have the money so opted to carry on.

On 3 March 15 the slightly late response to the FOI request arrived and the answer was

"There were no footway works carried out between 22 & 25 January in Kiddepore Avenue, NW3". Mr Mustard smiled to himself.

On 13 March the Notice to Owner was issued.

On 20 March Mr Mustard made the formal representations. They were the same as the informal challenge with the addition of the council's own FOI response to prove the absence of footway works.

On 8 April Camden Council accepted them and cancelled the PCN. The council couldn't resist though telling Mr Mustard, as if it was his car and not his client's, how wrong he had been. This sort of sanctimonious letter (who is responsible for ensuring that councils works are in progress if not the council?) does not endear motorists to councils.

The council had made a very sensible use of their discretion. Mr Mustard isn't sure that a PATAS adjudicator would have been able to cancel as legally the PCN was correct, they would have had to recommend cancellation to the council, he thinks.

The joke though is that his client could have moved the car forward by 5 metres and parked quite happily on double yellow lines for 3 hours.

Wasn't it a waste of parking bays though for Camden Council to suspend a long bay for 4 days whilst absolutely nothing was going on? Someone must have known that the works were not going ahead as planned. Not a good example of joined up government and not helpful to the residents of Camden where parking space must be at a premium.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. Quite disgraceful, but par for the course with Camden and most other London councils for that matter. All they want is our money, nothing else counts. Perhaps they should be asked to read this paragraph from the Statutory Guidance -

    10.3 An authority has a discretionary power to cancel a penalty charge notice at any point throughout the process. It can do this even when an undoubted contravention has occurred if the authority deems it to be appropriate in the circumstances of the case. Under general principles of public law, authorities have a duty to act fairly and proportionately63 and are encouraged to exercise discretion sensibly and reasonably and with due regard to the public interest


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