12 July 2015

Parking in the Wild West (St Endellion, Cornwall)

News reaches Mr Mustard of dodgy goings on in the world of parking, especially in council car parks, from North, South, East & West and it is the Wild West that figures today.

Mr Mustard does have friends down in Cornwall, who are overdue a visit, but he certainly won't be going to St Endellion as it is just too wild a place for him to visit.

There is something called the Port Isaac council (in theory) Car Park and here are the signs for it

Mr Mustard isn't up with the Cornish language but feels sure that the top part is misspelt and that the first word on every Cornish car park sign should be "Argh".

The council website further defines times, but they are not on the sign, why not?

So there is an Off Street Parking Places Order 2013 that the local Parish Council have very unwisely entered into. It started on 1 December 2013. The Protections of Freedoms Act (which rather conversely lets private parking companies easily access your vehicle data from DVLA) came into force on 1 October 12 and was not intended for council use but for the private parking industry.

Mr Mustard hasn't heard any noises coming out of St Endellion that they have taken any serious notice of central government since then. It isn't all that far to the beach to stick your head into the sand.

So, central government warned local authorities about using private enforcement in council car parks. St Endellion is almost as far in England from Whitehall as you can get so presumably think they are safe. Not from Mr Mustard and the NotoMob they aren't.

St Endellion Parish Council have taken a most unusual step with a Freedom of information request for a copy of the enforcement contract with A S Parking Services (there is a dormant company of that Ltd name but enforcement is actually by Athens Security Services Ltd which has a common director) by getting some Solicitors to reply on their behalf and refused the entire request whereas they should simply have redacted the commercially sensitive parts if the appropriate test was satisfied. What are they afraid of the public seeing - what a hideously bad contract they have negotiated?

The council had a meeting on 20 May 15 - it seems they are waking up.

This clearly shows that the council borrowed money to buy the car park so clearly it is a council car park and not a private one.

Here is something the council might like to think about in respect of their Parking Places Order

It is probably/possibly invalid as there is no such Act as the Road Traffic Act 1984. Perhaps they meant the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984? but one shouldn't have to guess.

In June the Finance & Car Park Committee (see how close those two items always are) of the council again considered parking:

It looks like time for the Audit Committee, if there is such a thing, to take a close look at how their contractor is behaving. Why doesn't the council itself bank the money? Giving away control of a cash asset is risky.

Let's go back to the signs now.

The top left says the sign is a council car park. Thus motorists expect to be governed by the usual council rules and access to an independent adjudicator, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, and if that were the case penalties would be £50 or £70 reduced by 50% for payment in the first 14 days rather than the rather excessive £100 reduced to £60. Also, the council would receive the money to plough back into further car park provision rather than let a private parking company have the benefit from any misuse of a public asset.

There is no adjustment for the disabled. That is a requirement of the Equality Act.

The tariff is bonkers. A 24 hour period from 00:01 to 23:59 is £5 whereas 7pm to 7am is £10. Both are 24 hour periods. From 23:59 to 09:00 is £7 which is £2 more than all day.

Nothing in the Order prohibits vehicles over 2.5 tonnes which could include a camper van. The Order does ban lorries (a rather loose term which is not defined in the Order).

The right hand sign says that the Car park is "private property". Tosh. It is council land.

"All vehicles must be parked within a single allocated parking bay". Which one? Should we stack the cars 50 high? Isn't the parking arrangement the same as cinema free seating, you park in an empty seat/space?

So, you can't occupy your vehicle after 9pm until 9am? What if you want to leave at 8am, how can you exit the car park without occupying your vehicle? Do you have to push it out of the car park. What if you want to sit in your vehicle watching the sunset at 10pm - you can't without paying a penalty of £100. The Order says no vehicle shall be used "for sleeping or camping purposes" - so if Mr Mustard has driven down from Barnet, leaving home at 5am and getting to St Endellion at 10am, prior to having lunch with friends, he can't take 40 winks until 12 noon? The signs are nonsense. Appeal against every parking charge notice. Mr Mustard's friends at Parking Cowboys will help you.

So the signs have supposedly been audited or approved by the Chocloate Teapot Society or is it the British Parking Association (a fat lot of use they appear to be).

Enough of St Endellion for today. Mr Mustard thinks that a local resident will be challenging their Accounts or asking difficult questions at the next meeting of the parish council or the entire council will be resigning as they aren't serving the needs of residents and visitors so why are they in office? Everyone else will be going somewhere else on holiday and keeping A S Parking rather busy at POPLA. Expect the parish council to ask the County Council to take over enforcement quite soon (they know on the QT that things aren't right).

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

p.s. If Mr Mustard has missed some salient point in this debacle of parish council competence, more St Trinians than St Endellion, then do feel free to comment as Mr Mustard needs the help and a large glass of red.

Mr Mustard just found two more points.

VAT is included in the £100. He sincerely hopes that A S Parking are invoicing this to the parish council who are their client as they are not entitled to recover vat from the motorist.

There is a 3% surcharge for paying the penalty by credit card or by the Internet (which costs about zero to process) when for a local authority payment the surcharge couldn't be more than 1.8% for all payments except parking which has to be 0%.

St Endellion are managing to do the motorist over at every turn. Vote with your feet (wheels). Suffolk & Norfolk are both lovely.

1 comment:

  1. AS Parking have left BPA for IPC now. They infest various sites across Cornwall and turn up on pepipoo sometimes - http://forums.pepipoo.com/index.php?showtopic=98850 is the latest one, I think. Nitpick - parent company is Athens Security Services, not Athena.


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