3 April 2014

Hang on a minute

Just a minute

Traffic wardens are in such a rush to issue PCNs that they can't find 5 minutes to actually do their job properly, of observing a vehicle for a reasonable time as the following independent adjudicator's decision (from the PATAS register) shows:
Mrs W does not dispute that her car was parked in this parking bay without displaying a permit. However she has maintained from the outset that she came to visit a resident in the street, and only left the car without a permit for the time it took to go to her house, obtain and complete a visitor's voucher and return to the car, a process she estimates as taking about 3 minutes. She points out that the Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) issued the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) after only one minute's observation, and suggests that he/she must have actually seen her leave the car. Mrs W has now produced a letter from Miss A, the occupier of 7 Redacted Road, the person whom she was visiting, which confirms her account.

The Enforcement Authority have insisted throughout that a permit or voucher must be displayed from the moment the car is parked in such a bay, and that no period of grace is allowed. Mrs W contends, by contrast, that it is not possible for a visitor to a resident to have a visitor's voucher already in her possession; it is necessary to go to the resident's house to obtain it, and so a short time must be allowed for this to be done.

I am perplexed by the Authority's stance in this case. It is self-evident that a reasonable period must be allowed for a visitor to obtain and complete a visitor's voucher from a resident, for the reasons Mrs W has clearly set out. Had the CEO observed the vehicle for, say, five or more minutes, then it would have been reasonable to assume that the owner was not obtaining a visitor's voucher, but by allowing only one minute that assumption could not be safely made. In this case I am satisfied that it was in fact wrongly made.

I am not satisfied that the contravention occurred, and so I allow this appeal. 
[I would respectfully suggest that the Authority give some thought to the instructions they give to their CEO's and to their decision-makers in relation to this issue.]
That final sentence is a typically understated hint from an adjudicator and if NSL, on behalf of the council don't do so, a costs award will inevitably arise on a future case.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Mr Mustard has just remembered he has a PATAS Appeal to attend in mid April which centres on the time it takes to get a blue badge from a resident and where the observation time was also only one minute. He will take this decision with him in support of his argument.

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