2 August 2015

A new leisure facility opens in Brent - an obstacle course

The biggest obstacle to be found in Brent?

Mr Mustard has, for the last 4 months, been helping a lady who is suffering from a personality disorder and stress, to deal with her various PCN. He didn't find out about the one for Brent until he had been helping her for a month. Let us call her Miss O.

The first document Mr Mustard saw was a Charge Certificate so he was already up against the clock and the process.

The problem had been caused by Miss O having 12 residential addresses in 2013/14. No matter how quick you were to notify the DVLA each time you moved the system would not be able to keep up with you and a council tends not to check your address at the DVLA for each new document as it costs money. Before showing Mr Mustard the charge certificate Miss O emailed the council and asked the council to send her a copy of the PCN as she had not received it and advised them of a new address.

This is the reply that she received.

It is perturbing that Brent Council did not take into account the Code of Practice of London Councils who who run the joint committee which have statutory responsibility for certain parking matters in London. Sadly, a local authority can ignore the Code of Practice and there is nothing much one can do about it.

Fine words don't lead to buttered parsnips in Brent

What is much worse is that this letter was sent to the address which clearly Miss O had left. Luckily the letter did reach her. How stupid an act was it to write to an address you have been told is no longer the address of Miss O, following which you then escalate her PCN to bailiffs as Miss O has not responded to official documentation.

What Brent Council cannot do though is to make up their own rules as they did when demanding proof of the new address. At this point, 29 May, Mr Mustard sent one of his "too difficult" emails. Here are the contents of it:

I represent Miss O of redacted address as attached authority. The authority have refused to accept a notification of change address without documentary proof. There is no legislation that requires them to act in such a way. I draw to the attention of the authority that an independent adjudicator is quite happy to accept any address of which it is notified of, as 2(2)(c) of the Schedule to the Appeal Regulations as are the DVLA.

My client tells me she has had 12 addresses during 2013/14 one of which was in Brent.

My client is also unwell, as per the attached sick note, and struggles to remember things.

Given the lack of paperwork in this case, my client cannot locate the Charge Certificate about which she emailed you, I do need the assistance of the authority please.

A simple list of the dates of all communications in and out and the address to which the council sent each of its documents will enable me to decide what to advise my client about the PCN.

My client thinks that she must have stopped briefly to ask for directions (you have the advantage of a video recording which is not available to me on-line although you might be prepared to send me a copy on a dvd to my home?) but it does appear from the still photos that the lights of the vehicle are on which is consistent with what she says (no-one could reasonably be expected to remember exactly what they were doing exactly in an unknown corner of London on a date some 18 months ago) and you could not today issue a PCN by post based on cctv thanks to a change in the law.

Given the sickness of my client, the presumed briefness of the stop, the passage of time and the fact that only a CEO on foot could now issue a PCN for this contravention (and his/her time would be better used in giving out directions rather than a PCN) the authority might consider it more appropriate, and a sensible use of its discretionary powers, to simply cancel this PCN rather than put my client through the witness statement, representations & Appeals procedure for what can only have been a minor & fleeting contravention.

Thank you

The acknowledgement to this email contained the following statement:

In order for us to deal with your correspondence it is important that you provide the following information:
i) Full Name
ii) Postal Address, including post code
iii) Penalty Charge Notice Number
iv) Vehicle Registration Number

If you did not provide this, please resend your e-mail, and include any missing information.

When we have received all the required information your case will be put on hold. The case will not progress or increase in cost whilst it is on hold.

All the required information was provided.

Was the case put on hold? Was it hell as like. An Order for Recovery was issued, to the old address by the looks of it. Mr Mustard got Miss O to sign a Witness Statement at the TEC which would have the effect of taking us right back to the beginning of this process i.e. a new postal PCN (in this case).

Mr Mustard sent "too difficult" email no. 2 on 12 July (the first one was clearly too difficult as it didn't get the courtesy of a reply, the council were on notice that the motorist was mentally ill and so they should make adjustments, none were made) in the form of a complaint:

Dear Sirs

Your acknowledgement of my below email included the following statement:

see the statement above.

and my email did indeed contain the 4 listed items of information so you should have put the case on hold. You have not done so (as the balance on your computer increased from £195 on 12 June to £202 on 28 June, two days on which I happened to check the balance) and it is procedurally unfair for a local authority to act contrary to how it says it will act and that is the basis of my complaint.

The second basis is that you have not responded to my email of 29 May, some 6 weeks later.

On 7 July a form TE9 was emailed to the TEC and doubtless it is now with you for processing.

You can check the registered keeper's address at the DVLA and please send documents to New Address Avenue so that they can be responded to.

Yours faithfully

Mr Mustard watched his inbox, nothing arrived. He checked his Royal Mail deliveries each day, nothing there either.

What did happen was Brent Council wrote the following to Miss O. on 17 July 15.

Thank you for your letter regarding the above-stated PCN. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you.

I write to confirm that the PCN has been cancelled. The case has been closed and no further correspondence or notices in relation to this case will be sent.

Yours sincerely

Funny, is it not, that as soon as Mr Mustard wrote, the PCN was cancelled!

Now Miss O had not written to the council so how could there have been delay in writing to her?

When they don't say which "letter" they are responding to (there were at least 3 emails they could have been referring to) how do we know if there has been a delay?

A very sensible decision to cancel the PCN. A 2013 PCN at the adjudicators in late 2015 would not have played well for the council.

What worries Mr Mustard is which other less robust individuals, than Mr Mustard, are being bullied into paying up £165 when Brent Council have refused to accept a perfectly proper notification of an address change.

Don't let it be you. If any other council in London has acted the same, do please let Mr Mustard know by email to mrmustard@zoho.com

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. For the record, that building is no longer Brent Town hall, but is a French secondary school.

  2. When I have a minute I'll find a piccie of the new one. Google images, you let me down.

  3. Picture updated. Thanks, Anon.


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.