18 July 2014

Armchair Auditor Objection

The council's TMO had one fault (not 4)
Mr Mustard and Mr Reasonable have been separately busy pouring over a tiny fragment of the Annual Accounts of Barnet Council and looking at the backup documents. Our work continues as we struggle with Capita to get what we are entitled to see (they are trying to fob Mr Mustard off with a draft of a contract when he is entitled to see the actual contract with anything top secret crossed out - if Mr Mustard doesn't see a contract with redacted signatures and actual dates, how does he know a contract was signed?). The struggle is well worth it as some juicy stuff is to be found if you know which stone to look under. The bloggers also look under several decoy stones!

Mr Mustard tries hard to point the external auditor Paul Hughes (of Grant Thornton) at what he sees as terrible wrongdoing but Mr Mustard has yet, despite trying 5 times last year, to get him to issue a public interest notice or apply to the Courts. Mr Hughes is currently sunning himself, is Mr Mustard's guess, as he has an out-of-office set up (one of those infuriating ones which says if your enquiry is urgent do something about it yourself as they couldn't be bothered to make sure your emails are even glanced at whilst they are away) so you can read the Objection before he does.

Dear Mr Hughes

The London Borough of Barnet
Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2014
Notice of Objection

I am told by Barnet Council that in the year ended 31 March 2014 they issued 4,827 Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) within the Saracens Event Day zone with an estimated income of £217,215 which I believe they have collected unlawfully.

I request a public interest notice as per section 8 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 that Barnet has unlawfully derived income of £217,215.

I request you apply to the courts under section 17 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 to have the income derived from the £217,215 of PCN declared as illegally derived income.

The reason why the income is illegally derived is that the Traffic Management Order did not contain a definition of what constituted an Event Day and consequently there were no days whatsoever on which a PCN could legally be issued for failure to comply with Event Day signs. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not claiming that the TMO was invalid, as it has to be contested within 6 weeks of being made and that did not happen, but on the contrary that it is valid but does not permit enforceable PCN to be issued.

The council are well aware of the deficiency as on 13 March 2014 they made TMO 2014 No. 28 in order to completely replace the defectively worded TMO 2012 No. 70.

All income from PCN issued inside the Saracens Event Day CPZ prior to 13 March 2014 should be refunded to the public.

A copy of this Notice of Objection has been sent to Mr C Naylor.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Should you still have an unpaid PCN issued inside the Saracens Zone before 22 March 14 then do feel free to get in touch with Mr Mustard as they are a doddle to defeat. Later ones might prove to be a little harder but properly approached, they too can be beaten.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update 18:07

Unlike the Capita man who had left halfway through the afternoon one of Mr Hughes's staff is still hard at it in his central London office and has thanked Mr Mustard  for his objection. So polite.

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