19 October 2018

Pedant of the week - Barnet Council

Note the PCN wording, not clearly displaying a (visitor) voucher.

Note also the statement 'no voucher was displayed in the windscreen'. That is the requirement but the helpful workman who received the PCN whilst working for a resident, placed the voucher in the side window, on the pavement side, so that it was much easier for the traffic warden to read & has done it like this for 30 years. Being helpful means Barnet Council want £110 from you.

Here is the visitor voucher, in close up. The scratched items were correct.

Here is one of the photographs taken by the traffic warden, whose reflection can be seen to the left of picture. They must have seen the voucher and issued a PCN regardless.

Anyone think that the actions of the traffic warden were fair and reasonable? (no not you, a council parking or NSL employee, your judgment is suspect).

Anyone think that revenue raising is the name of the game?

Anyone got any idea why Barnet's parking 'service' scores so lowly in resident perception surveys? That isn't going to change whilst ludicrously petty PCNs like this one keep being issued.

Mr Mustard will fight this to the bitter end which will cost the council a £30 tribunal fee. He has a card or two up his sleeve.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

11 October 2018

Harrow Council - also suffer from 'no but yes' syndrome

Station Parade, Canons Park
In the road in front of the shops which has a name, Station Parade, the two sides have different purposes for parking. The shop side is for people who pay to park. The opposite side is for residents with permits. Needless to say quite often people pay to park and are actually parked on the wrong side. Such was the fate of Ms J. She contacted Mr Mustard. He looked at the PCN and here is the relevant part.

Mr Mustard having worked out that the description of the PCN is wrong it is invalid for want of stating the contravention accurately. The car was not in Whitchurch Lane, that being the main road that the red car was on.

Mr Mustard made the informal challenge (the one in response to the PCN) on line in the name of Ms J. It was short & simple.

A copy of the payment receipt was also sent in, to show that it wasn't a question of a motorist seeking to avoid payment. Despite being factually true the challenge was rejected.

Note that Harrow Council dance round the actual challenge, that the road name is wrong. They decide it is actually the Whitchurch Lane service road. Paf. Harrow Council decided that the PCN had been correctly issued, but they were marking their own homework incorrectly. Note the implied threat that this is going to cost you if you fight on which puts the willies up many folk.

Mr Mustard advised Ms J to sit tight and await the Notice to Owner. It arrived and the identical challenge was made, again in the name of Ms J

All of a sudden the wind had shifted.

The PCN was not correctly given as if it had been it would have said the car was in Station Parade. Councils just have to try and save face but look even more idiotic in doing so. Accepting honest errors stands you in better stead.

So here we are again, the same as the blog post of yesterday, whereby a council, Harrow this time, have rejected a perfectly good challenge and then accepted the identical one made at the next stage of the process.

The first rejection thus looks like a cynical ploy to obtain payment which is not due. They know that most people either:

- can't face the 3 rounds of the fight (the tribunal would have followed in this case if a second rejection had arrived), or 
- are afraid of losing the discount, or 
- just want a quiet life, or
- don't really understand the system, or
- assume the council tell the truth,

and so pay up. Mr Mustard isn't most people.

The same advice is offered as in the last blog. If you are fairly sure of your position, stand your ground and fight to the end.

There should be some redress available, a financial penalty worth 50% of the PCN say, if councils reject challenges made in response to an on street PCN and then accept the same challenge in response to the Notice to Owner.

Anyone would think councils were strapped for cash and were trying to revenue raise from PCNs. Perish the thought.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

10 October 2018

Dropped kerb - woeful rejection

A lovely dropped kerb serving just the one property (you can't park across a shared one)
One of the residents of this property received a PCN for being parked adjacent to a verge lowered to meet the carriageway. She was upset by it and accordingly she wrote to the council pointing out the lack of PCNs despite 30 years of parking this way and that she was the resident and did not request any enforcement. She expected there would be a rapid cancellation. No such luck. Here was the response she received.

Rule 243 of the Highway Code isn't a statement of the law, just some not very exact guidance. What the council forgot to say was that the 2003 Act which they quoted has a caveat, that an occupier of the premises must request enforcement, which had not been requested. The CEO (traffic warden) had gone native. (A white line across the drop means nothing legally, it is just a hint there is a dropped kerb. A double yellow means you can't park across your own drive & a single yellow that you can't park on the line when it is in operation which may be the cpz hours if you live within one - be careful).

Luckily at this juncture a friend suggested she contact Mr Mustard and once the Notice to owner was received it was Mr Mustard who made the formal representations. They were the same as the lady in question had made some weeks previously. This time the response was exactly opposite to the previous one, a no had magically become yes.

The lady in question correctly pointed out to Mr Mustard how she could have been out of pocket in this case, if she had believed what the council said first of all.

You are right - they have cancelled the parking ticket.

I cannot thank you enough.

The fact I said all the same in my original response except I did not know the specific Act and legislation yet they declined my appeal makes me really mad.

If I hadn’t been recommended to you - I would have ended up paying £110 or more if it went to court I am outraged and relieved at the same time.

Thank you so so much.

I am going to make a donation to North London Hospice today as agreed for my appreciation for all your help.

Mr Mustard has noticed a fall in the quality standard of written correspondence this year and a complete lack of understanding of parking law. This seems to have happened at the same time as NSL moved the back office work, undertaken under contract for Barnet Council, to their office in Dingwall, presumably because the staff are cheaper up there. Cheaper isn't better.

If you think the council are wrong, research on the Internet, and if you are sure of your ground, fight them to the end. Barnet Council write a lot of words which are utter nonsense.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

2 October 2018

Millbrook Park School honey trap zone

it is usual to put the words outside the bay so they can be read when cars are parked

Mr Mustard has been asked for help at this location. Private tickets aren't his thing but he will give some pointers.

It is a nightmare. The lady in question was collecting her daughter from a dance class when it was dark. She parked in the pick up bay briefly, at 8.03pm when, basically, you can't pick up or drop off and the nearest you could park would be Bittacy Hill about 800m away which is ridiculous. Needless to say a parking charge notice was issued.

Why would you choose to do anything at the school given the parking problems?

These from the school's website so they know about the parking problems.

It isn't cricket to suggest Waitrose's car park as an alternative, suggesting you teach your kids that parking and not using the shop is ok?
Mr Mustard has emailed the school to see if they have tried to get the times changed and what the response was.

One reason why people go wrong on private estates is they look like any other estate containing council adopted roads. In this case the road will be adopted later on which is probably why it has double yellow lines and a zebra crossing with belisha beacons.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update #1

It has been suggested that Mr Mustard refer motorists in difficulty to one of two on line help forums, which Mr Mustard is delighted to do




Update #2

The evidence pack of the parking operator has arrived. It says that the yellow sign within the bay (except for pick up and drop off) was not erected by them, how would you know? & why would you look for another sign when that one looks official?

29 September 2018

Bunns Lane Car Park - ticketing pattern

Having just read an unusual tribunal case about paying once you get to work for your parking in the Bunns Lane Car Park, a method that would work fine in many private car parks, Mr Mustard thought it might be instructive to have a look at the times at which tickets are issued for not paying at that location. The results are graphed above and here is the data for January to August 2018.

Mr Mustard also had a glance at the 12 cases for this location which have reached the tribunal. Apart from the lady who paid from work, with 4 PCNs, the most common reason for the others was that it was Saturday and payment was not due for a stay of less than 3 hours, which Mr Mustard could construct a winning argument for.

As the traffic wardens fall out of Solar House in North Finchley at 8am the earliest PCN issued at this location was at 8:29 and the last at 18:17 (some unlucky person perhaps thinking no warden would turn up after 6pm).

So we can see that there is a bit of a feeding frenzy by traffic wardens between 8.30 and 11am and then all goes quiet until 2pm when there is a flurry of ticketing and then it goes all calm again.

Only 3 people a day fail to pay for their parking and whilst there may be the odd chancer most will actually have paid just for the wrong vehicle or wrong location. The phone signal is poor at this location and there isn't a ticket machine for some unfathomable reason.

All PCN data is published by the council on their data portal, here although Mr Mustard prefers to download the raw data and manipulate it himself as that works better for him.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

27 September 2018

Objection to the failed experimental cash cow at Briardale Gardens & Pattison Rd in Childs Hill.

A popular route at rush hour, roads are there to be used.
This is Mr Mustard's objection, which he has just submitted. You have until 7 October to get yours in.

This is an experiment which is failing.
There has been plenty of time for people to get used to the new restrictions, nearly 6 months having passed since its introduction, and yet there were 433 PCNs issued for contraventions at those locations in the week ended 31 August 18.

It brings the council into disrepute to have such wholesale flouting of banned turns. The general public at large won't know that the errant motorists received a PCN apiece.

It also isn't an attractive look that the council will gather in c.£28,000 in PCN revenue in a week when what they really wanted to do was to stop motorists from using the two roads in question at certain times.

It isn't clear to me why the experiment isn't working, and I don't suppose the council has done any research into why it isn't, by, for example, joining with the police and stopping vehicles after the contravention has occurred and asking the drivers about their actions.

If we contrast these junctions with that of Barnfield Road (junction with Market Lane, HA8) where there is a no entry restriction and an enforcement camera we find that in the same week ended 31 August there were only 2 PCNs issued for breaching the No Entry restriction. Clearly the No Entry sign is accorded much greater respect by the motoring public. I note that was the preferred option of the adjoining borough, Camden Council.

Barnet's DPR shows that they did not follow the preferred option of Camden Council, which would have led to the desired effect of virtually stopping any contraventions from taking place.

In summary my objections are:

1 The experiment is a failure so should be stopped and not made into a permanent order.
2 The majority of affected residents are within the borough of Camden so their view should take priority.
3 The council have carried out no research as to why their experiment has failed.
4 A new experiment should be conducted using 'no entry' signs. These have to be 24 hours but that doesn't matter as most of the traffic will be within the banned turn times so extending the times affects far fewer motorists & cycles can still be excluded.
5 No entry signs are respected almost all of the time.

I now have a copy of what Camden Council sent to residents, since the start of the trial.

Further to our joint letter of 16 March 2018, we write to update you in relation to the trial traffic scheme that is currently in place at Briardale Gardens and Pattison Road.

As you may recall, there is agreement between Camden Council and Barnet Council that there is a traffic problem at Briardale Gardens and that action was needed to address the safety concerns, in particular for pedestrians crossing Briardale Gardens at its junction with Finchley Road.  Officers from both authorities have been working together on finding an agreeable solution and in April 2018 an experimental scheme was implemented that banned the right and left turn movements from Finchley Road into both Briardale Gardens and Pattison Road operating between 6am and 10.30am and between 3pm and 8.30pm (except for cyclists), Monday to Friday.

We are aware that since the implementation of the experimental traffic scheme the concerns amongst local residents regarding road safety, particularly on Briardale Gardens and at its junction with Finchley Road, remain and that there is a widely held view that the experimental scheme has not been sufficient in addressing these issues and only a no entry from Finchley Road into Briardale Gardens will address the concerns.  Residents of Pattison Road have also expressed concerns at the operational hours of the scheme and its impact on them accessing their home. It is noted that the volume of traffic in Briardale Gardens has reduced by up to 90%, during the restricted hours, however, traffic volumes have increased by an average of 85% during the hours between the traffic restrictions, 10.30am – 3.00pm Monday to Friday.  There continues to be a high level of non-compliance, especially in the case of Briardale Gardens. 

Since its implementation the operation of the experimental scheme has been subject to ongoing monitoring, including traffic count surveys, video surveys, levels of compliance and the feedback received during the trial period.  This information is currently being reviewed by officers and will be used to produce a monitoring report and it is anticipated that this will be available in early October. 

This technical analysis and the findings of a road safety audit will be used to inform discussions with Councillors and the authorities will jointly agree a final decision on the future of the scheme. 

We would like to thank you again for your patience in this matter and would like to assure you that we are working to bring this issue to a conclusion as soon as possible.