23 August 2013

From 99% to 50% to ?%

In the local paper a couple of weeks ago Cllr Dean Cohen, who has parking within his portfolio, said that 99% of people pay their parking tickets. Mr Mustard knew this was hopelessly inaccurate, although he didn't have the exact figure as it isn't actually a statistic that is tracked, it is money that is used to monitor payment success with. Anyway, someone else asked a short series of Freedom of Information questions about parking tickets which Mr Mustard fell over whilst looking for something else on the whatdotheyknow website and here they are:

Total number of PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) issued by the London Borough of Barnet in the year 2012 150,211 (looks like the calendar and not the council year)
Total number of recipient who paid up without contesting in the same period 74,938 (50%)
Total number of recipient who appealed to PATAS 2,158
Total number of recipient who were successful at PATAS 1,520 (70% of appeals to PATAS)
The date from which the mistake in wording was corrected? 5 December 2012

How interesting. The council used the incorrect wording for 4 years, although they say it is OK even though PATAS found against them the vast majority of the time, and just over a week after Mr Mustard blogs about the incorrect wording the council change it, as a precautionary measure naturally, not because it was wrong. As the wording is laid down by legislation two versions of it could not both be compliant. Draw your own conclusions.

Is it the intention of the Council to refund the money to all the recipients in whose case the non-compliant wordings were used?

So Mr Mustard emailed Dean Cohen 10 days ago to ask him to confirm he really did say 99%. Answer came there none, as yet. He might be on holiday or else too embarrassed to answer. It would appear though that councillors don't routinely read FOI responses, this one dates from questions posed in June & July so would have been fresh in the mind although Mr Mustard expects Cabinet members to have a better handle on what their department does in any event. The fact that 50% pay up does not fully inform us what the other 50% do (although we know that 1.4% go to PATAS and some of the rest will pay up after contesting and others will stick their head in the sand which is a very bad idea and yet more will leave the country or be driving a foreign registered vehicle)

Motorists in Barnet are far too compliant. Half of them just meekly pay up. Barnet Council get a lot of things wrong when it comes to processing parking tickets and once someone independent sees them your chances of getting the PCN squashed increase markedly. Might Mr Mustard advise you to study the process using his handy simple guide which is on the left of the blog and then once you know how the three steps work you can have a go at defending yourself from unjust tickets. If you pay up within 14 days you are on a 50% success rate. If you appeal every ticket to PATAS you will commence at 100% or 0% after your first ticket but after that you will, unless you are a hopelessly incompetent parker or chancer who never follows the rules, slowly move towards the 72% won average. Those are odds worth taking. By fighting you also give yourself time to save up if you need to. Once you have the PATAS result though and if you lose you must pay within 28 days if you want to avoid the serious aggravation and expense of the PCN going any further when costs start to rise.

The process of going to PATAS will be written about soon in a guest blog by someone who went there and won with the guidance of Mr Mustard.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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