5 November 2013

Mr Mustard has the hump

look at the sign carefully
When you get a parking ticket you enter onto a treadmill that goes helter skelter through a number of rotations and woe betide you if you miss a deadline as then you lose and have to pay up or the bailiffs will be round pronto to take your car away.

If on the other hand the council owe you money, which they are meant to repay within 28 days, time stands still and NSL move like a snail.

Here is the history of the matter:

On 13 June, Mr Mustard submitted an appeal to PATAS for a PCN given out in Bittacy Hill which he thought was a Saracens Zone PCN (he was only given one page of a letter to work with, no PCN, no copy appeals, nothing else) and he ran up a 5 point appeal which was, it turns out, pretty much all wrong. We will call his client "Mrs R". He instructed Mrs R by letter to tell him if she received the evidence pack, a bundle of 50 to 100 pages which sets out the council's case. 

The address of Mr Mustard was the one put in the PATAS form for service of documents.

Once the hearing date was known he reminded Mrs R about a big bundle of papers she might receive.

The appeal was due to be heard, as a postal appeal, on or after 16 July.

On 11 July Mr Mustard emailed PATAS to tell them that he had not been served with an evidence bundle and asked for the PCN to be cancelled for that reason alone.

On 19 July the appeal was heard and was lost on the balance of probabilities. Not really a surprise except that the adjudicator didn't seem to have seen the email of 11 July.

The decision gave 28 days for the PCN to be paid. Mr Mustard paid the £110 himself as he had blundered.

An adjudicator's decision can only be challenged on limited grounds. Mr Mustard wrote and asked for a review on 19 July "in the interests of justice" as the council's case had not been seen by him. This time he asked to attend in person so as to argue the merits more extensively than can be done on paper.

PATAS agreed to carry out a review and set a date of 6 September.

At the review Mr Mustard discovered that the evidence pack had indeed been sent to Mrs R, and the adjudicator agreed that was a procedural impropriety and so the Review was granted. That meant that the PCN itself was back in play for an appeal and the same grounds of the service of the evidence pack at the wrong address was enough to count as a procedural impropriety and the PCN was cancelled. Thus Mr Mustard was due his money back. 

(If Mr Mustard had seen the evidence pack when produced he would have realised his appeal was all to cock and done a new one.)

On 10 September, Mr Mustard asked Barnet Council's agent, NSL, to refund him within 28 days and provided a copy of his receipt. Silence, no response.

On 14 October, Mr Mustard reminded NSL that a refund was due. More silence, still no refund.

It cannot be equitable that if you owe the council money that you are obliged to pay it within 28 days or face a 50% increased charge initially and then a vastly increased charge by the bailiff on his/her visit, £400 to £1,500 being common amounts depending on if you are merely clamped or if you have your car removed and yet if the council owe you money they don't even have the politeness to acknowledge your correspondence. There does appear to be a dearth of good manners within the parking process.

Maybe Mr Mustard should clamp the mayoral limousine to force repayment?

At the least he should get £165 back. Will he? Will he even get an apology? or will a sensible member of the parking client side now read this blog, see that the PCN number is AG20537719 and make an immediate refund. If NSL have paid Mrs R in error then it is up to NSL to get their money back from her and not wait to repay Mr Mustard who has no financial connection with her.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update 6 November 13

From a council officer.

On 10/09/13 the Council were made aware of the direction to cancel the Penalty Charge Notice. For reasons unknown the officer who is responsible for the logging / updating appeal statuses was not able to log the updated appeal status on to the case, it was raised with the team leaders whose responsibility it was to raise it with our software provider. 

From what I can tell nothing has happened since then. I am currently investigating why this failing has occurred.

I confirm that I have this morning updated the case to reflect the new appeal status and have initiated the refund process. When I have confirmation that the refund has been successful I will let you know via email

I apologise on behalf of the service.

Mr Mustard has now asked if anyone else is in the same boat, due a refund and hasn't had it. He did have a case last month where the elderly lady (80+) had paid after filing an appeal at PATAS as she couldn't sleep for the worry, won her case and then got her £60 back within 2 weeks so Mr Mustard was simply unlucky? If you are due a refund, send an email to barnet@nslservices.co.uk

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