|The Kingston Honeypot aka Surbiton Crescent|
Although Mr Mustard thinks that the above location is poorly signed the adjudicator who, to date, has heard most of the cases at that location, does not agree. Thousands, absolutely thousands, of motorists have missed the signage and The Royal Borough of Kingston are laughing all the way to the bank and coincidentally not changing the layout (unless you know otherwise). The 'flying motorbike' sign, correctly the 'no motor vehicles' sign is, according to some research, understood by 88% of motorists.
Mr Mustard has conducted his own on site research at locations where the flying motorbike sign is to be found and his findings are that only about 10% of motorists know what the sign means.
That is all well and good but this blog post is about the miserableness to be found within the PCN section at the Royal Borough of Kingston.
His client, Mr B, had a brain tumour surgically removed in 2013. He had experienced some seizures in 2016 and following further investigations he had to be operated on again in 2017 for the same serious medical condition. On the day of his operation his wife, Mrs B, drove the car registered in the name of Mr B, through the above restriction in breach of the flying motorbike signs but in accordance with the blue arrows (that tell motorists where to drive) and politely giving way to oncoming traffic, again as directed. A PCN duly arrived in the post for contravening the restriction signed by the flying motorbike sign.
Mrs B wrote to Kingston, saying that the signs were not adequate, and explaining that she was on her way to see her husband, the registered keeper of the vehicle, in intensive care. Documentary evidence of his medical condition was supplied.
The council's rejection of the representations included the following:
- 'have decided that grounds or a suitable reason to cancel the PCN have not been established'
- Whilst I empathise with the situation you described we are unable to withdraw the PCN as this does not fall under the mitigation of a medical emergency'
Mr Mustard's carefully considered view is that the Royal Borough of Kingston don't have even the tiniest scintilla of empathy for Mr & Mrs B as if they did they would surely have instantly cancelled the PCN to reduce the burden of life for this couple at the moment.
Kingston are able to cancel the PCN, to say otherwise is a terminological inexactitude. This is what an adjudicator has had to say on the question of being 'unable to cancel'
The local authority's response that it is unable to cancel the PCN is incorrect. The local authority is always able to decide not to enforce a Penalty Charge Notice. It is under a duty to consider all the representations made by a motorist.
An Appeal at London Tribunals was duly lodged and at that point Mr Mustard was instructed and took over. He duly attended the hearing and he discussed the mitigation with the Adjudicator, who cannot allow on grounds of mitigation as his role is to decide if the contravention occurred or not, which it did. The Adjudicator was however, distinctly unimpressed with the attitude of Kingston and so adjourned the hearing, which Kingston had opted not to attend, as per usual, and wrote to them and asked them two questions:
1. How did they not notice that Mrs B made the representations when the car is registered to Mr B, so he is the only person legally entitled to make representations?
2. Given the medical history, did Kingston really want to pursue the PCN?
At that point someone at Kingston realised either that they had made a procedural blunder or that they looked terrible from a PR perspective and wrote to the tribunal to say that they had considered the comments of the adjudicator and decided not to pursue the PCN on this occasion.
That is belatedly wise of them but what sort of world do we live in where chasing a PCN is seen by the Royal Borough of Kingston as being more important than a recurrent brain tumour? Many motorists, faced with difficult medical circumstances, would have been too weak to fight and just paid up, the desired outcome of Kingston. Those are the very motorists whom Mr Mustard particularly wishes to help.
The need for Mr Mustard never seems to diminish.
Councils everywhere, you need to accept more representations where the motorist has some other burden of life to carry, whether or not the contravention occurred. Just try to be nicer.