13 July 2015

new Haringey Council policy - mess Mr Mustard about

It is hard to write a parking story without Helen Michael of Cafe Buzz, N12 appearing somewhere. So the above PATAS decision about Helen's PCN was made on 6 May. The council wrongly posted the evidence to Mr Mustard's client i.e. Helen, instead of to him. Once could be an accident.

On 20 May 2015 Mr Mustard again appeared at PATAS for a Ms S. The evidence pack was dated 8 May but not posted until 11 May and also sent to his client and not to him. Twice is a coincidence.

Mr Mustard has an adjudication hearing on Wednesday at London Tribunals for a Haringey PCN. He has not yet received an Evidence Pack. Is this the third time it has been sent to the client? = enemy action (from Ian Fleming's novel Goldfinger).

On 25 June Mr Mustard sent in a page and a half of formal representations about 2 PCN for a Dr. T to Haringey Council by the Signed for Service (as he doesn't trust any council not to "lose" his correspondence). The letter was accompanied by a scanned copy of an authority letter of standard wording, viz:

I confirm that Mr Derek Dishman, of redacted address is authorised to represent me in respect of penalty charge notices issued by any council, to pursue complaints and to sign documents on my behalf as my representative.

What could be clearer? 

Barnet Council, who Mr Mustard writes to most often, accept that authority without hesitation as have the City, Camden, Enfield, Harrow, Hammersmith, Islington, Lambeth, Hounslow, Southwark and Haringey(!) in 2015.

On 6 July Haringey Council wrote back.

This was a postal PCN and so the first challenge made is the formal representation. The registered keeper has made them. Mr Mustard's letter started:

"I represent Dr. T ..............as enclosed authority."

Mr Mustard thought he had forgotten to enclose the authority so sent the letter back in again on 10 July. Perhaps he didn't forget the first time he sent the letter in.

Mr Mustard has today received a clear signal that Haringey don't want to answer the representations that he makes on behalf of his pro bono (Mr Mustard does not charge any fees) clients. This from a letter dated 9 July, regarding Mrs O..

Haringey mean 29 June not 29 April and that isn't their only sloppy error. It is the owner of a vehicle who is liable for a penalty charge, that may or may not be the registered keeper (otherwise the Motability scheme would be suffering as all the cars are registered in the name of Motability).

Mr Mustard has not made an appeal. For a start, he isn't "any other person", he has the right to sign letters as representative as if he is the vehicle owner. One does not make an "appeal" in response to a Notice to Owner, one makes formal representations. An "Appeal" is what is made to London Tribunals (formerly PATAS) after receiving a Notice of Rejection of Representations. Haringey are able to answer the formal representations; they have chosen not to. They did respond to Mr Mustard's informal challenge so aren't exactly being consistent (it was identically worded to the formal representations).

There is no legislation that supports this line:

"We are unable to accept authorisation for a third party to act on their behalf".

The Regulations about challenging, making representations to and Appealing PCN have very little to say on the question of representatives. The one line which puts Haringey into a spot of bother is this one:

from The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeal Regulations 2007.

as clearly it is envisaged that a representative may appear on behalf of a vehicle owner (the appellant) and it would be a nonsense if they couldn't do anything about a PCN at earlier stages.

Of course it wouldn't be the case that Haringey Council are poor losers, would it?, given that Mr Mustard has contested 6 Haringey PCN in 2015 and the current score is

Haringey 0 - Mr Mustard 6

i.e. all 6 PCN have been cancelled, 4 of those by an adjudicator, so the council are down by c. £300 in PCN income and have paid out £160 in fees to PATAS (now called London Tribunals).

Throwing one's toys out of the pram is not the way to go. It might also be a breach of Human Rights law to deny a motorist representation by the representative of their choice. Barnet Council parking management don't behave childishly, they & Mr Mustard talk openly to each other (and sometimes politely agree to disagree), the council take all losses on the chin and try to improve their operations. Mr Mustard tries to stay one step ahead of them.

Come on Haringey Council, time to man up.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. Clearly bovine stupidity guarantees one a job in Haringey Council parking department !!

  2. Unlike Fras, I've had mixed experience of Haringey Parking Service in the past. Including some helpful responses and contact with senior staff who were committed to solving problems and not simply making an even bigger - and probably unlawful - surplus on the Parking Account. (I wouldn't be surprised if this is the expectation of the people now "leading" Haringey Council.

    But what Mr Mustard describes is very disappointing. I hope it shows no more than an inexperienced member of staff. Someone who can't use the correct spelling of "Dishman". And it seems, who doesn't understand that council staff benefit by listening and learning from members of the public.

    Especially if like "Mr Mustard" they are well-informed, thoughtful, and have a keen sense fair play. And if what they say usually makes good sense and can help Haringey to improve its service and systems. Provided they consider his comments and observations with an open mind.

    Sadly many parts of Haringey Council demonstrate a culture which I call a "101 Council". This has three linked features which have steadily worsened over the past three years. First, lack of organisational learning - intensified by staff turnover and temporary consultants. Second: poor customer service. Third: an apparent belief that there are usually at least 101 reasons why residents are wrong.

    Haringey has "form" with courts and judges for screwing-up. And here they go again: risking further reputational damage by ignoring basic principles of Natural Justice and a Fair Hearing, not realising that it's reasonable for someone to be represented by their chosen advocate or "friend" in a legal process.


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.