30 September 2014

Parking policy - review

Please do not park like the car on the right
The council have been tweeting away to try and get people to respond to the consultation about their draft parking policy which you can find here. Mr Mustard needs to warn you that there are 16 appendices. He read the whole thing and found it mostly rather vague and so he drafted up his own points that he felt should be considered by councillors and they are below:

Suggestions for Barnet council parking policy from Mr Mustard (Derek Dishman)


The purpose of penalty charges is to dissuade motorists from breaking parking restrictions.

The objective is 100% compliance, with no penalty charges.

Source: Secretary of State for Transport.

My policy suggestions are divided, as far as they can be, into stages of the process.

Before any PCN is issued

Have a choice of payment methods to provide for the needs of all customers. PayByPhone, cash at a meter, vouchers, credit card at a meter (insert and contactless), PayPoint, Oyster and/or Barnet Payment card (a Barnet Payment Card could take the place of cash completely provided it was flexible enough i.e. it must not have a cost to provide and can be charged up with any payment amount, is widely available and the nearest stockist is signposted at every bay where payment is required).

Don't issue PCN on Bank Holidays except for on crossing zig-zags and dropped kerbs on request by a resident.

Reduce the hours during which PCN are issued. Traffic wardens should not be roaming the streets from 7am to 11pm.

Stop treating the Special Parking Account (SPA) as a target i.e. if quarterly projections show it will be missed, don't take steps to generate missed income from elsewhere.

Don't issue Visitor Vouchers with a 3 year life. The money paid for them didn't expire.

Issue all correctly applied for permits and blue badges in 24 hours.

Organise courses on how to park legally in order to help people to comply with what is a complex parking regime.

Remove the CPZ entry signs (except the Saracens ED zone) and put signs on all single yellow lines. Only 10% of the borough has a CPZ and they are widely misunderstood or the entry signs are missed.

Reduce the vast size of the Saracens ED zone and change the time of it to one hour at the usual kick-off time.

Make a note of vehicles parked that would be in contravention if still there when the suspension sign is erected so that any PCN issued to them can be cancelled. Put up clearer suspension signs as ones that say 2 bays outside numbers x and y of a street will not be clear if three cars could park outside those two residences.

Publish the list of pavement parking locations which are not enforced even though the pavement is not marked out for them. This was promised to me in the Environment Committee meeting of 24 July 2014.

Use some of the SPA surplus to educate drivers about the most common parking errors. How many motorists, for example, know that you can't park on the pavement, except where marked out, anywhere in London? Not enough given the number of PCN which are issued for this contravention.

Traffic wardens (CEO)

Don't issue a PCN for a missing registration mark off a parking voucher (especially if it is only for 1 hour as it isn't very likely to be re-used) and remove the requirement from the next print run.

Don't issue a PCN for a Visitor Voucher that is out of date and remove the expiry date (3 years) from the next print run.

Make less use of Regulation 10 (drive-away) PCN as inadequate observation time is being given as to what the motorist was doing.

Allow 14 days grace for an expired resident permit. Give the car a leaflet that the permit has expired.

Give 10 minutes grace for all offences (except on crossing zig-zags and genuinely dangerous parking).

Issue a warning for minor contraventions if the driver returns. (Para 40 Sec of State Guidance).

Don't issue a PCN for being outside the bay marking when the two halves of the car are both in bays which the car is entitled to be in.

Don't let traffic wardens park their car or scooter in any manner other than legally (although without payment is OK)

Don't issue code 24 PCN (not parked correctly within the markings of the bay or space) unless one wheel is wholly outside the parking bay (London Councils CEO handbook)

Don't issue PCN in the first or last 2 minutes of a restriction (London Councils CEO handbook).

Don't issue PCN for being parked on the footway unless a complete wheel is on the footway, not just partially on the kerb.

Provide offices at which cash payments of PCN can be made.

Don't issue a PCN where the signs or lines are clearly defective - report them instead.

Back office

Cancel a PCN if it turns out that a valid permit exists but wasn't on display for some reason. If the traffic warden has this information about there being a permit he should not issue a PCN in the first place.

Cancel the PCN if there is a delay in processing at any stage of 6 months (this is the law for a Notice to Owner to be issued) i.e.

1    between the Notice to Owner and the Charge Certificate
2    between the Charge Certificate and the Notice of Recovery
3    between the Notice of Recovery and instructing the bailiff

Accept reasonable instalments if offered up to say 6 months. These motorists would not qualify for the 50% prompt payment discount.

Write a policy about how vulnerable individuals should be treated.

Cancel PCN where the wrong vehicle or wrong location has been paid for.

Cancel all permit issue delay PCN.

Cancel PCN if a permit reminder was not sent.

Cancel a PCN issued within the Saracens ED zone to any motorist who is resident within it and issue a permit to them and tell them about visitor vouchers.

Inform all medical workers who challenge a PCN on the grounds that they were attending to a sick patient about the Health Emergency badge scheme in case they may qualify for it.

Do a DVLA address check at both the Charge Certificate and Order for Recovery stages as people move a lot and otherwise may not receive these vital documents. I think the cost is about 20p per application.

Tell motorists if their formal representations are being disregarded as being outside the 28 day time limit from service of the Notice to Owner.

Make the decision about all challenges in-house as the law requires (even if NSL then issue the decision)

Put the email address on the PCN (para 70 of Sec of State guidance) and provide a telephone number for the use of the disabled who may not be able to communicate in writing.

Produce an Annual Report (Para 114 Sec of State guidance).

If the council get it wrong, apologise sincerely and compensate the motorist.

Find out why regular offenders are regular and offer them help and advice to avoid parking wrongly rather than clamping and/or removing the vehicle and negotiate settlement of their outstanding PCN by agreement if possible. Your power should be wielded with discretion.

If a motorist tells the council that the Charge Certificate is the first notice received the council should offer the opportunity to pay the PCN at the full rate (not +/- 50%) (para 224 London Councils Code of Practice)

Update the cancellation policy that was used prior to NSL being contracted (copy attached).

Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC) - Northampton County Court

Don't oppose out of time witness statements where the customer says they have not received documents and are not clearly lying.

The council is allowed nearly a month to decide upon these. During this time the motorist may have been deprived of his car. The policy should be to decide upon them within 48 hours.

A council officer should decide on these, not a contractor.


Don't send bailiffs to Old Age Pensioners, Blue Badge Holders or Motability car drivers as they are a vulnerable section of society and other methods would be better i.e. phone them up if they don't pay to see what the problem is. A bailiff is not meant to take a car of a blue badge holder and certainly can't touch a Motability car as it doesn't belong to the debtor so avoid error and put temptation out of the bailiff's way.

Parking management, not NSL, should monitor the activities and charges of bailiffs to make sure they behave in a proper manner and do not overcharge.

Cases should be sent to bailiffs every month and without delay once the process of challenge has been exhausted.

Before instructing a bailiff in a case where the motorist has not engaged in the process at all make telephone, postal (Signed For service) or even personal contact with the motorist to find out why they have not responded. They may have moved away, had an accident or died.

Management should monitor the success rate of each firm of bailiffs. A success rate of 17% as in Enfield (Barnet's not known but likely to be equally dire) is no success at all. Either the bailiff is cherry picking the cases they are pursuing or the quality of what they are being given is too low.

Do not allow a parking enforcement contractor to use a bailiff that they own or a sister company as there is an inherent conflict of interest if the parking enforcement contractor makes the decision as to whether or not a particular car can be removed. In addition it is not possible for the parking enforcement contractor to independently investigate a complaint about a bailiff. The council should in any case make the investigation, using an independent person to make a recommendation, as they owe a duty of care for the behaviour of their bailiff (the warrant is in the name of the council).

Bailiffs have to take care of goods in their possession. One that was impounded for more than 6 months was not washed, its tyres were allowed to deflate and the battery was discharged and had to be replaced. This requirement should be stipulated in bailiff contracts (even though it is a well known requirement).

If the council decides to release a vehicle that has been impounded without payment, the council should deliver the vehicle back rather than make the motorist collect it from Nazeing (where Newlyn send vehicles to be stored).


Now you could go through the questions on the survey that the council have asked which include "do you like our policy as it is set out"? (pretty please) but Mr Mustard thinks that you might prefer his.

If that is the case you could send an email to paul.millard@barnet.gov.uk (he is the rather grandly titled Parking Improvement Project Manager - he's probably a consultant brought in just to do this project) saying that you agree with the all of the proposed policies that Mr Mustard sent to him on 26 September (c.c. mrmustard@zoho.com please) or you can copy and paste the ones you would like to see and send an email containing those alone to Mr Millard. The more people that respond the better as parking affects most people in the borough, the current policies are dire and some are simply aimed at raising revenue and this is your chance to make parking policy fairer.

Feel free to come up with your own policies if you don't like Mr Mustard's either. That's democracy. You have until 28 October but why not do it now?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Credit where due

bottom of picture cropped to remove the vehicle registration
The poor disabled lady who received this PCN was crying her eyes out as she had correctly put her blue badge out on show and mysteriously the traffic warden did not take a full camera shot of her windscreen or one through either side window. Doubtless his/her notes would have contained the abbreviations AWC (All windows checked) and NBBS (no blue badge seen) or similar.

Mr Mustard didn't know whether this was accidental or deliberate but he did check two previous PCN issued by this particular traffic warden. They both had full shots of the windscreen and of side windows so he was doubtful as to the legitimacy of this PCN.

Mr Mustard sent it to the parking process manager and 12 hours later the PCN has been cancelled and the poor evidence will be discussed with NSL at the next management meeting so fair play to the Barnet Council manager. It must be a nightmare trying to control NSL at a distance. The council have saved themselves from wasting a £40 fee (for a £60 PCN) for a PATAS hearing by accepting the challenge at the earliest possible point.

The council parking managers do get caused a lot of work by Mr Mustard but they know that he knows what is going on in parking enforcement and that he plays with a straight bat, so they listen to him and hopefully parking enforcement will be the winner i.e. it will be fairer. If this traffic warden has cheated, and been caught, they will think twice before doing such a trick again.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

27 September 2014

Handout for talk to ABD


PCN appeals can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride
Last year a number of people asked Mr Mustard why he spent so much of his time helping people with their parking ticket (PCN) appeals. Mr Mustard wasn't giving very complete replies as he hadn't really thought about it. One day, on the tube on his way back from a PATAS hearing, he reflected and here is the list of the main reasons:

1. To combat the council using parking tickets as a revenue raiser instead of council tax.

2. As Mr Mustard has built up certain skills and read the relevant legislation which would be wasted knowledge if he didn't use it more than once.

3. As to many people the sum of £110 is their food bill for the rest of the month and it's all they've got.

4. As he has spare time (for now).

5. To raise money for charity. If Mr Mustard's assistance leads to your PCN being cancelled he asks you to make a donation to the North London Hospice (amount of your choice).

6. To combat the sharp practices of NSL and/or Barnet Council. A car was taken from a pregnant lady for a parking ticket where the council didn't follow procedure, a traffic warden photographed a sign from a  different bay to prove his PCN, a motability car was clamped, a motorist caught a traffic warden out telling stories because he had cctv at home which captured his broken down car being pushed by him, where the council know that lines are too faded to enforce and they carry on issuing PCN.

7. To encourage others to stand up for their rights.

8. As it's fun (yes, really, pedantic as well!)

9. As he hopes that continued exposure will lead the council to change its ways for the better.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

26 September 2014

Please donate to the North London Hospice

Even if you haven't had a PCN

a log only started this year

Your Choice - in built pension burden creates artificial loss to justify pay cut

Artificial hair; artificial cost burden on Your Choice
The below is in the nature of a guest blog by Unison, Barnet with added comment at the end by Mr Mustard.

At our meeting on Monday 22 September at ACAS HQ UNISON raised a concern that Your Choice Barnet (YCB) was being unfairly treated by Barnet Council.

I am referring to the Pension employer contributions YCB has to make to all members of the Local Government Pension.

For council staff the Pension contributions can be broken down into three parts

1.  Employee contribution variable % depending on salary level.
2.  Employer contribution 14.5 % for future benefits.
3.  Employer contribution 9.8% for past Pension Deficit 

The total amount paid by the employer equates to 24.3%.

Barnet UNISON has been investigating what has been happening in relation to Pension contributions since mass outsourcing started in early 2012.

What we have found is that YCB is having to pay 9.8% contribution towards the historic pension deficit accrued prior to outsourcing.

It is clear that this financial burden seriously inhibits the financial viability of YCB and does not reflect the true economic conditions for delivering the service.

In short the Council is imposing a cost on YCB which is not directly related to the service they are providing.

It is well documented that YCB is in financial difficulties otherwise why would they have had to attack low paid care workers on two occasions in the last 18 months.

To learn that the Council has chosen to impose another financial penalty on YCB when it has such a precarious financial situation is difficult to understand, which is why we have requested Barnet Council to remove this requirement.

Private sector being given favourable treatment.

Our investigations have revealed the following three private contractors, who won contracts to deliver services in Barnet, are not having to pay this 9.8% penalty.

NSL - Pension Fund Committee, 20 December 2011 at paragraph 6.3 it states:

“NSL will become an admitted body to the Pension Fund under a closed agreement. The agreement will be fully funded at the point of transfer and the contractor will pick up employer pension costs associated with future liabilities. Provision has been made in the business case both for the costs associated with a pension bond, and also for costs that the Council will retain in respect of the past deficit for these employees.”

Capita Re - Pension Fund Committee 9 September 2013 at paragraph 6.4 it states:

“The joint venture will pay the future contribution rate to meet any pension fund liabilities. The council has retained the element of the budget that pays for the repayment of the past service pension fund deficit.”

OCS Group UK Ltd - Pensions Fund Committee 18 March 2014 at paragraph 7.2 it states:

“Staff will transfer on a “fully funded basis”. This means that the pensions’ deficit will not transfer to OCS from Barnet in respect of these staff. The total deficit retained by Barnet has been calculated at £98k. £25k per annum needs to be retained from Adults and Communities budget to fund the repayment of the deficit over the lifetime of the contract.”

We are in the middle of a dispute over the 9.5% pay cut imposed on our members working for YCB. The knowledge that yet again the private sector is being treated more favourably than YCB is inexcusable.

If Barnet Council were to do the right thing and treat YCB like they have done with Capita, the 9.5% pay cut would be wiped out and the dispute would be over. It is that simple.

We have written to Barnet Council asking them to consider our request and do the right thing for the services and the loyal hard working low paid care staff who provide excellent services.

What the above means is that when the council or councillors say that they can't pay more than the "going rate" for carers (who should be paid a fair rate for a difficult job) what they are doing is comparing the hourly rate of a commercial company that doesn't have a pension deficit with one they own that does. This certainly isn't a level playing field. The deficit can only have been caused by the council failing to have invested enough in prior years and now to make up a shortfall they have loaded 9.8% onto the salary costs of Your Choice which makes losses on the hourly rates that the council itself pays Your Choice for care and used that to justify a 9.5% wage cut.

Pull the other one Barnet Council. You have decided upon both the income stream that Your Choice has and its costs. You own the company and are deliberately holing it below the water line whilst looking the other way. The council itself wasn't represented at ACAS either, they are making Your Choice management do their dirty work.

Please do not force some excellent staff to look for work elsewhere in other fields so that they can live a decent life. Disabled people need the continuity of care that dedicated and experienced carers provide.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

No messing with the NoToMob

Mr Mustard likes to ride with the lads and lasses of the NoToMob when he has the time. They are an incredibly talented and hard working bunch of people with disparate skills and a common desire to stop parking contraventions being driven by councils' need for revenue.

As soon as POPLA was mooted one of the mob was on the phone to Mr Mustard and an awful lot of work has been going on behind the scenes, away from motorbikes and cameras by others who work tirelessly on technical matters. Mr Mustard claims no credit for this blog post, all the hard work has been done by others.

One thread of the work has now ended up with these documents, published by London Councils, a sort of council overlord for London.

eh? no financial implications, oh Mr Mustard thinks there are

and this extract from the Governance report isn't pretty reading

so how does this affect Barnet Council?

Well, it affects every council in London as rather than immediately abandoning all thought of continuing to run POPLA the officers at London Councils are trying to get each and every councillor on the TEC (Transport and Environment Committee) to delegate the power from their council to enable them to carry on. Problems created by Parking on Private Land (Appeals) has got nothing to do with Barnet Council as they have PATAS to adjudicate on council parking tickets and this is just letting a quango get involved in something they shouldn't be involved in.

Mr Mustard wrote to our parking councillor, Dean Cohen, some time ago when a sort of select committee of the TEC decided what route to go down and Dean did write back to Mr Mustard to say he wasn't part of that decision but he does have to be part of the next one (possibly on the agenda, not yet published, of the meeting of 16 October). Mr Mustard will ask him in a new email not to delegate power to London Councils to get involved in non core business. 

There is nothing in it for the residents of Barnet.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

25 September 2014

NSL employee doesn't understand CPZs

Mr Mustard had the idea a while ago of writing a blog about CPZ zones and has now been prompted to get on with it. He thinks they should be called Single Yellow Line Zones as that is all that the zone entry signs, like this one, set the rules for.

The times on Controlled Zone signs do not set the times of any marked out bay inside the zone although they may happen to coincide, nor the times of double yellows which are always 24/7 (but not always 365 days of the year, they may not apply in winter in holiday resorts) but the zone entry signs do set the restricted times of single yellow lines inside the zone unless the line has its own sign with different hours which take priority.

You would think that an NSL employee would know this, but one clearly doesn't.

how many grammatical errors can you find?

Where was Mr Mustard's friend parked? In a bay next to this sign.

Thus the part of the Case Summary, seen above, sent to PATAS which talks about signs not being necessary next to the bay is just plain wrong. Mr Mustard thinks that an adjudicator will be with him when he raises this point.

Mr Mustard will send an email now to the Parking Manager who evidently needs to ask NSL about the training that isn't being given to NSL's employees and/or the knowledge of Notice Processing Officers.

The parking manager isn't going to be amused at yet another blunder by NSL. This is one of the difficulties with outsourcing, ensuring quality control.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

24 September 2014

and we pay Capita for this shoddy work?

Mr Mustard has not heard good reports about TNT postal deliveries but he really doesn't think they are this slow, even cycling directly from Bromley to Barnet it would not take a year and two days to deliver his mail, the below letter having plopped through his letterbox an hour ago.

What seems more likely is that someone at Capita doesn't know that it is now 2014. This sort of lack of attention to detail is pretty poor given how much council tax payers' money gets thrown at them.

It is impossible for Mr Mustard to reply within the 14 day deadline but he supposes he will have to respond. He isn't going to complete their stupid form though, as it is a nonsense and not a legal requirement.

Mr Mustard will send Crapita a simple one line letter saying he is still the only resident which is all they are entitled to, which will not include his phone number and his email. If they want anything else they can write. Doubtless they get paid for each person they catch out and Capita couldn't get up early enough to catch Mr Mustard out. Sharp eyed readers will find a huge flaw in the above document which renders it worthless.

Do remember to tell the council if your situation has changed, within 28 days would be reasonable, such that any discount you may be receiving is stopped when your entitlement stops.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Glossing over the Bailiffs

Mr Mustard had a meeting with the Chief Operating Officer in December 13. It covered a number of topics raised by both sides. Time was short and so Mr Mustard agreed to send in his thoughts afterwards about where the council were going wrong on their use of bailiffs. He did so on 2 January 2014. The COO has not replied.

Mr Mustard also carefully copied his thoughts to the Parking Process Manager as Mr Mustard was aware of the upcoming Parking Improvement Project (supposedly to improve the public's perception of parking which is dire) so that if there was the germ of a useful idea in any of them they would be studied and possibly incorporated into Parking Policy.

It looks like Mr Mustard doesn't know a thing as this is what the Council's proposed policy says about Bailiffs

Why Mr Mustard thinks that is a little thin as the following were his thoughts:

The use of bailiffs for the collection of Penalty Charge Notices for parking & bus lane contraventions in the London Borough of Barnet.

Executive summary:

•    Council not properly overseeing or auditing bailiff use.
•    Use of bailiffs should be better targeted.
•    Policy for vulnerable individuals should be published.
•    Bailiffs should be instructed regularly and in a timely manner.
•    Success rates should be monitored.
•    Witness statement handling should be speeded up & a decision policy tree written.
•    Conflicts of interest should be removed.
•    Seized goods should be properly looked after.


In most legal proceedings it is necessary to show that the defendant has been properly served with the relevant paperwork. In the case of PCN the default position is that if a motorist does not take any part in the process then they become liable for the penalty by default. This is an advantage, doubtless put into the legislation on the grounds that local authorities can be trusted to use their powers wisely, which should be balanced by judicious and careful consideration before a bailiff is instructed.

If a motorist does owe a penalty then there is a duty on the council to try and collect it but at the same time motorists who are actually innocent of any wrongdoing should not suffer


When the council employ a bailiff they incur no costs which is why the service is so attractive. Bailiffs recover their fees from the motorist. The council still have a duty of care as it is the council’s warrant that is being enforced. The fees that are charged to debtors make the original PCN value increase up to 9 times the original value. A charge of £992 is a disproportionate penalty for having parked where you shouldn’t for a few minutes.

Under their duty of care the council should have oversight of the charges that are being levied by bailiffs and should be verifying that overcharging is not taking place. Any overcharge by the bailiff will have a negative effect on the council’s reputation as it is the council’s warrant that is being enforced. I do not think that any oversight of bailiff actions is currently taking place.

Common problem

I noticed on two cases that the motorists were unaware of the PCNs in question until the day they were wheel clamped.

The council’s records will have shown that there was no engagement in the process by the motorist. These are the cases which I think should be reviewed by a manager before the warrant is sent to a bailiff. Prior to a bailiff being instructed a junior officer could attempt to make contact with the motorist by telephone and, if that fails, by recorded delivery letter. I don’t know what other council records you can legally cross refer to but it would be sensible to check council tax records which may show that the motorist has left the address in question. A DVLA check to ensure that the motorist still owns the car would be useful so that a new vehicle owner does not find himself clamped due to a PCN incurred by the previous owner.

I note from the Notice Audit Details that Pre Debt Checks are made but I don’t know what they entail (and would like to).

How does the council know that the notices which are said to have been posted, actually have been by NSL / RR Donnelley?

Vulnerable individuals

My cases have included a heavily pregnant lady, a disabled pensioner in receipt of higher rate mobility element of DLA and thus eligible for a Motability car, and a 93 year old man. The council should have a policy as to how their instructed bailiffs deal with vulnerable individuals. I have recently asked Redacted for a copy of the policy but am not yet convinced that one exists as absolutely no quarter was given to those individuals by the bailiffs. It is the sort of document that should be on the council website.

As a Motability car cannot be clamped or seized (Redacted made proper amends for the one that was and thus avoided a formal complaint) then those cases should perhaps be screened out of those being sent to bailiffs in order to avoid the problem of erroneous clamping.

Erratic use

As part of the public Audit arrangements I asked about bailiffs. I was told that no monies were recovered by bailiffs in the year to 31 March 13. Apart from the fact that I don’t think it is the case, it is an odd state of affairs. If PCN are being issued every month then cases should be sent to bailiffs every month so that the debts are fresh as otherwise they die of old age. In any event, under the London Councils Code of Practice (not law but the council profess to follow it) there should not be a delay of more than 6 months at any stage of enforcement so if bailiffs haven’t been instructed on that timetable the PCN should be written off. It would be useful to see a table of the number of PCN sent to bailiffs each month for the last 3 council years and the amounts of money recovered from them.

How does the council know, with reasonable certainty, that all PCN income collected by their bailiffs has been properly accounted for and that improper fees have not been applied or improper practices have not been used?

Recovery rates

The percentage of PCN actually recovered by bailiffs is quite low. I don’t have statistics for Barnet that I can rely on but in Enfield the recovery rate is a mere 17% which means that 5 times of out 6 work is being wasted by the council, NSL and bailiffs. I would question whether the light is worth the candle and also look at how recovery rates could be improved, perhaps by a detailed analysis of the factors that led to recovery or non-recovery. Maybe the council should focus on motorists who have more than one unpaid PCN in a 6 month window and simply write off the rest?

Witness statements

A safeguard in the system is that a person who didn’t receive a Notice to Owner or whose formal representations weren’t responded to or who appealed to PATAS and didn’t get a hearing (basically covering lost in the post situations) can apply to wind the process back to the start. There is a time limit for doing this and often people are, through no fault of their own, out of time. If they are out of time they submit their TE9 application along with form TE7 explaining why the application is late. In the two cases I dealt with this was because the documents were not received. NSL simply relied on having sent the documents and didn’t properly consider whether the motorist might have been telling the truth. It would be interesting to know what percentage of TE7 cases are allowed (I suspect 100% are opposed which cannot fit with the legal requirement on a council to be fair) and to compare the stats for the final calendar quarter of 2011 with those for 2013 to see how differently, or not, NSL act compared to how the council itself used to.

I did catch NSL not telling the whole truth in a witness statement by omitting to mention that a document had been returned by the Royal Mail and thus that PCN should not have been with the bailiff at all.

The other problem with dealing with forms TE7 is that the council move very slowly. Approximately a month is allowed for the council to decide whether to accept a TE7 out of time and during that time an innocent motorist is deprived of their transport and I think the council should aim to deal with them in 48 hours. The motorist will have enough delay if the TE7 is rejected whilst they wait 2 or 3 months for a County Court hearing date for which they will also have to pay £80.

Given that granting an application to wind the process back to the start merely allows the motorist to engage in the appeal process I think the default setting should be for the council to allow them all unless the TE9/TE7 application is a misuse of the procedure.

Conflicts of interest & complaints

NSL own the bailiff called Task and they are retained on half of Barnet’s cases. They should not be. This is a clear conflict of interest. In one of my cases the car was removed by Task and then NSL took the decision as to whether or not to accept an out of time witness statement (TE7/TE9 procedure) and allowing it would have meant that an NSL subsidiary would have incurred costs that they definitely couldn’t recover and so the decision was made to reject the application. The decision should be made by someone who doesn’t have a significant financial interest in the outcome (the council have a minor interest as the PCN value is a fraction of the total costs charged to the motorist at this stage).

Similarly bailiffs are usually left to investigate and respond to their own complaints. If NSL were to respond they are less likely to find wrongdoing on a Task case than a Newlyn (the other bailiff) one. At the minimum, all complaints should be investigated by and responded to by a council employee. Having seen the unsympathetic, inadequately researched and inaccurate response sent by the parking client side to the lady who was 6 months pregnant I would suggest that parking really needs an independent person to consider complaints.

Duty of care

Cars are seized and then forgotten about. A car was seized in July and the Court ordered in November that an appeal be allowed. During that time the car was left outside and was returned in a filthy condition, with flat tyres and a completely discharged battery (a claim may follow as a mechanic had to be employed to get the car going again). As a bailiff has a duty of care then a car should properly be stored indoors and possible under a cover or given a monthly wash, the tyre pressures should be checked monthly and the motorist should be asked for the keys so that a trickle charger can be connected to the battery. That way, the car can be driven away if it has to be returned and its value is preserved if it does go off to auction. The benefits of providing the keys should be explained in writing to the motorist.

The motorist who was deprived of his car for 5 months was initially expected to collect his car despite it by then being uninsured, declared off the road and not in a fit state to drive. Redacted made an exception for me in this case but I think that as a matter of policy that any car removed by a bailiff should be returned to where it was taken from free of charge if the PCN is subsequently allowed to be appealed as the motorist is innocent at that point.

Since January 14 Mr Mustard has been consulted on other bailiff cases, three in the last month alone, and they involve cheating, lying, bullying and a complete failure by the council to control activities or charges. One case is now being investigated by the parking manager as it does appear that the PCN has been chased in error. Enquiries continue.

Mr Mustard will put the main points form the Executive Summary into his draft parking policy which he hopes to publish soon.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

23 September 2014

Short story competition

Dear Writer,

In addition to the recent Greenacre Writers Newsletter, here is some more news!

We are delighted to announce a new Greenacre Writers monthly Short Story Competition 

Closing Date: Monday 20 October 2014 (midnight GMT)
Word Count: Maximum 1000 words on any subject.
Prizes: First Place – £45; Second Place – £20; Third Place – £10
Entry fee: £4.00

Greenacre Writers monthly writers meet-up.
When: Monthly, every 2nd Wednesday starting October 8th
Where: Bohemia, 762-764 High Road, North Finchley London N12 9QH

Wanted: Greenacre Writers Social Media Volunteer
If you would like to get involved with Greenacre Writers as a
volunteer tweeter or blogger, let us know via this email.

Happy Writing!

Greenacre Writers

Twitter: GreenacreWriter