8 February 2017

Some councils are making it harder to challenge PCN

A public body has a general duty at law to be procedurally fair. They should not therefore add further stages into a process which is enshrined in law. Mr Mustard has noticed some councils (not Barnet) make you go through several extra input screens before you can actually state your challenge, this will exhaust some people whose attention span or determination is not as great as Mr Mustard's (Mr Mustard has been prompted to write this blog post because a gentleman who has asked for advice about an Ealing PCN did not know what his contravention code was. You have to know where to look as it is in tiny type).

You only need the 52 but having tested the system Mr Mustard has discovered that you can type in any existing code number and see what 'sage advice' is being given for that particular contravention code.

On the home page of Ealing Council (they are not the only guilty party, Southwark is the same & there will be others) you find this car icon to roll your mouse over

That changes the box to this one, click on 'Manage & View'

That takes you to this screen which you think will be the place where you make a challenge or representation (a challenge to an on street PCN or a representation to a postal PCN, Notice to Owner to Enforcement Notice - documents with similar purposes, to notify the vehicle Owner of a contravention)

Having chosen 'Challenge a parking ticket' you get to enter your PCN number and contravention code (a number from 01 to 99) in the boxes
Click continue and you then get offered some reasons to choose from. At this point Mr Mustard ignores the proffered options and simply clicks 'continue' as he does not need to read any partial, misguided advice.
However, for the purposes of the blog he duly clicked. He found he was only allowed to click 4 reasons so he pressed F5 and could then click the rest. Why would a council want to limit the public's search for information?
For funerals a council could ask for more information or they could take account of the tone of the challenge and perhaps decide that the person is telling the truth. They do not have to check, it is an option. Why should the public trust a council which does not trust them?

The phrase 'the PCN remains valid' is misleading. It was certainly validly issued but it wasn't valid if it contained an error in the street name or bore the wrong registration number or if the traffic warden put it back in their pocket having not served it for some reason. Don't rely on non-service as a reason to challenge, find some other ground of representation. Mr Mustard is merely pointing out here the misleading language which councils use in an effort to get you to give up and pay (Mr Mustard doesn't do that).

Ealing Council seem to have omitted all sorts of other possible reasons, such as 'I was not the Owner of the vehicle' which is a statutory ground so this is very poor of them.

A sign that prohibits all vehicles (including cycles except if pushed) has no words. It is a round white sign with a red border. (Hardly anyone seems to recognise that sign). The flying motorbike sign (a motorbike on top of a car) does not mean that motorbikes and cars are prohibited but all motor vehicles and so Ealing's explanation about picturing the type of vehicle is just plain wrong.

I'm a visitor, I wasn't aware of the rules (which is a naughty way to try and get you to implicate yourself) could have the explanation that the rules were not properly signed.

You could live in Ealing and still be the victim of cloning.

The advice that Ealing are giving needs to be clear, comprehensive, accurate and meet with the Regulations & any Court decisions; it doesn't.

Loading; if you were moving home and unloading your possessions then you won't have loading paperwork but you might have a new rental agreement which it would be better to produce. If you are helping a friend then a letter from them is the best thing to produce.

Not everyone uses a breakdown emergency service. If you break down and your partner is handy with mechanical things, they may have come out to help you, or a friend or neighbour. Best to produce a letter from them explaining what happened. 

There is not a 24 hour limitation. If the breakdown was following an accident after which you were hospitalised for 48 hours that would be a reason beyond your control and grounds for cancellation.

If you do as Mr Mustard does and ignore all the peripheral nonsense and simply click continue, then you get this screen. Ealing are not helpful, they make you enter your registration number again. Really, Ealing, anyone would think you were trying to make it difficult for the motorist.

Would you like to cut out the cr@p & go straight to that screen, then simply click here.

Mr Mustard then thought he would make a quick comparison of the sage advice being dished out by Southwark for code 01 to see if it was the same, it wasn't.

Their loading explanation is better except that you don't have to have multiple items so a single trip is fine, unlike what Southwark say. A fridge, new or used, is one item and it is usually bulky &/or heavy so counts as a load. You do not have to provide official paperwork as you might have an old fridge which you are lending or giving to a friend as you have purchased a new one.

To cut the cr@p in Southwark, use this link.

Local authorities, eh, what can you do with them.

Mr Mustard's conclusion is that some councils don't really want you to challenge your PCN, just to pay it. That process has of course been made really easy.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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