29 August 2015

Brighton doesn't rock

You are a kind person, you lend your battered old Citroen to a 'friend' who parks in a less than satisfactory manner in Brighton and picks up seven PCNs in a fortnight, not for parking on the pavement, as that isn't a problem in Brighton, although it really should be, but because of the double yellows which extend in enforcement terms from the middle of the carriageway to the building line (not many people know that). The double yellows turn out to be the saving grace. Another car length and the double yellows finished so rather surprisingly the car would not have been in contravention unlike in Greater London where this sort of parking is frowned upon.

The vehicle owner was at risk for £490 (only £420 once the driver had paid one PCN). Not much reward for lending your car out.

Mr Mustard set to work, Brighton Council were helpful and engaged in the process outside of the formal procedure so full credit goes to them.

The very first PCN each week was correctly issued. The others not as each week was one continuous contravention and so only one PCN should have been issued each week (assuming the car was moved at the weekend). Strangely, most of the PCNs went missing. Traffic wardens in Brighton must have large pockets on their work wear? Brighton's reasons for cancelling included that they were out of time for responding to formal representations (56 days) even though they weren't but Mr Mustard has seen councils make up face-saving reasons to cancel before; he doesn't care why only that they do cancel.

The driver paid the first PCN in the second week. Mr Mustard expects that the Owner will be demanding £70 from the driver for the first week, although Mr Mustard has asked for a Review of the Adjudicator's decision as two serious substantive points from his Appeal do not appear to have been considered. Reviews, and even more so, successful reviews, are rarer than hen's teeth.

The alternative is that the driver could have used Just Park and avoided any risk of a PCN. A mere 700m away, in Central Brighton, there was a private car parking space for a mere £44 for the week

which has got to be well worth thinking about for peace of mind and a guaranteed place to park your car & which is also likely to be safer than on the public highway, or pavement come to that.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

26 August 2015

The Flying Car comes to Barnet

I don't think so
The evidence packs that Barnet Council / NSL submit to London Tribunals for consideration by an independent adjudicator usually contain a site map.

One particular adjudicator hates Barnet's evidence as it is such evident nonsense, like the above photograph showing where my client was parked. What this evidence does is then cast doubt upon the rest of the council's evidence.

Mr Mustard's client doesn't always manage to park very well but he hasn't yet managed to park half way up a lamp post.

There isn't a PCN contravention code for parking in mid air.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

25 August 2015

Brent Council talk ball (joint)s

Mr Mustard's client challenged a Brent Council PCN on the grounds that the ball joint had failed and so he left his car in a residents bay for a short while until a mobile mechanic came and fixed it, the car not being drivable.

A copy of the repair invoice was sent to Brent Council and contained the following detail.

Brent Council have rejected the challenge, as follows:

How could they make a decision based upon a false factual statement?

Ball joints get inspected annually as part of the MOT.

Toyota only require them to be inspected every 15,000 miles.

The council have not got the maintenance record to refer to.

There is no actual maintenance schedule, only an inspection schedule.

Brent don't know their ball joints from their hose elbows.

PCN clerks are probably not mechanically qualified. Clearly they all have cars which never breakdown when they least expect and none of them are therefore members of the RAC or AA (other breakdown services are available).

Anyone would think that they were trying to put the motorist off the idea of challenging the PCN. Mr Mustard will see you Brent, in due course, at London Tribunals (formerly PATAS).

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Don't you know who I am? Why? don't you? Haringey Council know now.

extracts of Barnet Council's ludicrous attempt to nobble Mr Mustard in 2011

Haringey Council wanted Mr Mustard to prove he was one and the same as Derek Dishman, or the other way around, before answering his questions about what, if anything, the parking department had written about either of them. It would have been a data breach for Haringey Council to phone Barnet Council and ask who I was but that sort of thing does not (oops) go amongst councils. Searching on google for "Derek Dishman Mr Mustard" also brings up ample proof in a second.

Anyway, as he is so helpful, he did prove it.

Dear Ms Pietikäinen

I refer to your below email.

I prove that Mr Mustard is my nom-de-plume by the following methods:

·         I have placed your below email on the Mr Mustard blog

·         Your chief Executive, Nick Walkley, can confirm my identity

·         I attach a complaint made to the ICO, which was not upheld, by Barnet Council which understands that Mr Mustard is Derek Dishman and that the blog should have been registered under Data Protection Act.

·         Derek Dishman as his character Mr Mustard has been seen on BBC1 in the programme Parking Mad. The following iPlayer link will work for 2 weeks http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b041d6z6

·         Derek Dishman as Mr Mustard was seen on C4 news which you can watch on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfJ6QOz-iC4

·         Derek Dishman mentioned Mr Mustard is his evidence to the transport select committee (PE33) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmtran/118/118vw29.htm

I look forward to my request now being complied with.

Please add to my SAR request all internal council communications with any member of the Feedback & Information Team since 1 January 2015 in my real name or nom-de-plume.

Best regards


Since doing this Mr Mustard, or his alter ego, have received an email thanking them for the £10 cheque and saying that an answer should be provided by 3 October.

It will be interesting reading.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

24 August 2015

Haringey Council got themselves into a mustard pickle

Those lovely people at the Campaign for the Freedom of Information have kindly provided some information to Mr Mustard about how Haringey Council should have handled his request.

The CFOI are battling on our behalf to keep FOI free and wide in scope and they need money to do that. Please visit their website and donate to help the cause.

The CFOI also provide training to councils, like Haringey, and perhaps instead of jerking Mr Mustard around, they might like to invest money in high quality training (there is of course the possibility that messing with the mustard is council policy)

 So here is what the experts say:

It actually doesn't matter what legislation you cite in the request, the authority should handle it under the appropriate legislation, whether that be the FOIA, DPA or both. The ICO advises:

Dealing with freedom of information requests for the requester’s personal data.

As mentioned above, a valid SAR may, at first sight, appear to be something else. It is not uncommon, for example, for the request to state that it is a freedom of information (FOI) request. If, in reality, it relates to the requester’s personal data, you must treat it as a subject access request.

If it is clear that the requester is merely asking for their own personal data, but they have cited FOIA, you should do the following:
• Deal with the request as a SAR in the normal way. The requester does not need to make a new request. You may need to ask for payment of any necessary fee or ask the individual to verify their identity.
• If your organisation is a public authority, the requested personal data is, in fact, exempt from disclosure under FOIA or the EIR. Strictly speaking, you should issue a formal refusal notice saying so. In practice, however, we would not expect you to do this if you are dealing with the request as a SAR.
• It is good practice for public authorities to clarify within 20 working days (the time limit for responding to FOI requests) that the request is being dealt with as a SAR under the DPA, and that the 40-day time limit for responding applies.

If the request relates to information that cannot be requested by means of a SAR (eg it includes a request for non-personal information) then, if your organisation is a public authority, you should treat this as two requests: one for the requester’s personal data made under the DPA; and another for the remaining, nonpersonal information made under FOIA. If any of the non-personal information is environmental, you should consider this as a request made under the EIR.

Simple then really. At the start Haringey Council should have just asked for £10 (or waived it as the cost of processing exceeds £10) proof of ID and got on with it. If they had done that, they would not have created a mini blog-fest dedicated to themselves.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

23 August 2015

Who is Mr Mustard? - Haringey Council want proof

Update as requested by a reader (23 June 2022)
Sent 23 August 2015

The request was accepted and complied with by post. It wasn't very interesting!

21 August 2015

ConAll Crescent, Ealing

Mr Mustard may have got the road name wrong in the title
Yesterday, Mr Mustard and another NoToMob member, a veteran as it happens, by the name of Bald Eagle, and here is the photographic evidence of him in action

Mr Mustard was also with him that day, evidently not wise to let him out on his own, lol
decided to do something about the huge number of motorists who, by dint of habit, were missing a new "no motor vehicles" sign at the exit of Hanger Green into Connell Crescent in Ealing, near the Boden shop (suppliers of flowery shirts to Mr Mustard and shoes to Mrs Angry)

So at 3pm we started. By 4pm we had prevented 50 motorists from going into Connell Crescent when they shouldn't have, all going there by force of habit after driving down there for many years.

So that was £6,500 that Ealing Council didn't sent out demands for.

Motorists we met fell into 2 camps.

Camp 1, who have had 1,2,4,6,7 PCN here before they found out the new rules. Big thumbs up from them.

Camp 2, are you sure? Oh I see, now I see, thank you very much. We'll go along the A40 then.

About 10 motorists decided to ignore us and go down Connell Crescent despite being warned. You will all get a PCN for £130 in the post and listen to NoToMob members next time.

About 6 cars came the other way out of Connell Crescent which is fine and we met some of the residents who said that even they had not been warned about the new restrictions and some of them had been ticketed. We suggested they talk very forcefully into the ears of their local councillors. Clearly the necessary local publicity which should be a vital part of any new restriction had not taken place. We absolutely understand the need to restrict this location being used as a cut through as it is not suitable for more than light local traffic. The Ocado driver was bit hacked off at having to go the long way round but he will adjust to it.

Local business John Lewis had warned all of its drivers. The presence of the NoToMob ensured that a number of other local businesses with many drivers would now be warning them all.

3 driving instructors were prevented from entering the road and were suitably chastened (sorry if you were embarrassed in front of your students but you did save £130 apiece).

Numerous mini cab drivers didn't know about the new signs. They do now and will hopefully spread the word.

The one black cab driver who happened along wisely touched the side of his eye in a knowing manner to show that he did know.

A police car with 4 officers in it stopped for a chat. They were perfectly happy with our activities and we chatted for a few minutes during which time one car escaped us into Connell Crescent.

One driver tried to press a tenner into my hand. It was declined. He was directed to the NoToMOb site to sign up instead and so some prevention work of his own.

At 6.25 dinner was calling (7.30 at Ai Sushi in Finchley) so we mounted our bikes to leave and even then whilst parked up Mr Mustard, who could be mistaken for a policeman if you aren't concentrating, with his high-vis jacket and clear hand signals, managed to stop two more cars from entering the banned entry.

A good afternoons work with about 170 motorists who didn't commit a contravention on the day, nor will they another day, thus saving a collective £22,100 from being demanded by Ealing Council.

Who said it was all about revenue raising? NoToMob did. This coming Thursday at 22.35 on BBC1 you can see Bald Eagle and other mobbers on the tv doing their stuff.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

No contravention & no car now either

my client's car
OK here we go with a most improbable story.

18 June - evening - the car breaks down. It is left at the side of the road, on a single yellow, with a note under the windscreen wiper.
19 June - the council concerned issue a PCN and fairly instantly remove the car to the pound.
25 June - Mr Mustard's client cannot afford to pay to release his car (£65 for the PCN, £200 for the removal & £40 a night for storage) but goes to the pound where they give him the PCN but not a letter explaining his rights. The representation grounds on the PCN are not the ones for the removal of a vehicle. Also, the PCN says that if you pay you lose your rights to contest the PCN. The perfect storm.
1 July - the council write saying that unless the PCN and the fees are paid there is no right to make representations. They sandwich together several parts of the relevant regulations, which are here in their original format:

There is much toing and froing of non-statutory communication but then, on

22 October - a Notice to Owner is issued.

12 November 14 - representations are duly made "the contravention did not occur due to the breakdown of the car"

27 November - the council scrap the car. Yes, really they do.

24 December - the council reject the representations. One of their reasons is that the Owner has not produced proof of the vehicle being repaired after it was broken down. Funny that as it was in the council pound all the time!

January - Appeal to PATAS

5 March 15 - PATAS allow an Appeal as the council do not submit any evidence.

So; Mr Mustard's question is simple.

Was the council correct? Do you have to pay if your vehicle is removed before you can make representations or can you, as Mr Mustard thinks, leave your vehicle in the pound at £40 a night whilst you make your representations and then Appeal to PATAS if rejected?

It does seem rather odd that this client has been found, 9 months after he was deprived of his car, to not have committed a contravention but his car has been scrapped and the council concerned are telling him to get on his bike, they were within their rights to scrap his car (even whilst they were considering his representations!).

Does anyone have anything that will help Mr Mustard's client?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

The council concerned haven't even heard the start of this, never mind the last of it.

Update 22 August: Just after midnight a PATAS case thudded into Mr Mustard's inbox in which a different council takes a right legal thumping for having failed to inform a motorist of his right to make representations immediately upon the removal of the vehicle.

14 August 2015

The Friday joke - Wandsworth Council

an extract of a PCN ("os" is shorthand for Outside)
If only they had put "to" instead of "&".

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

13 August 2015

Two minutes of hate

Mr Mustard's client got a PCN on Tuesday, just 2 minutes into a restriction on a single yellow, outside Waitrose in Whetstone. She may, or may not, have been slightly over the 4pm watershed but even if she was, does that fact warrant that she pays a penalty of £110? (or even £55 if she pays promptly if she happens to have it spare at the moment, so far from payday)

This is the sort of overly eager PCN which enrages the general public as the punishment is disproportionate to the crime (parking is decriminalised but no other word will do) and as the suspicion always is that the traffic warden is hiding around the corner waiting for 4pm to clock by and then pounces, having already clocked the vehicle details for a quick hit and run PCN.

Mr Mustard will be fighting back. The first line of attack is at the accuracy of the time in the hand held equipment of the traffic warden. He will ask to see proof that the terminal concerned had been duly synchronised to the atomic clock at the start of the shift. If the council can't prove that the time was accurate an independent adjudicator may well give the benefit of the doubt to the motorist.

The second is because the Handbook issued by London Councils for traffic wardens to be guided by across all of London, says

so no PCN should be issued before 16:03 on the single yellow line in Whetstone High Rd (west side).

London Councils also suggest there should be an observation period for contravention code 01 but Barnet Council have entered into a contract with NSL that allows for a PCN to be issued without any observation period whatsoever. In this case the traffic warden has come along and started the process of issuing the PCN before 16:02 as it takes a minimum of about 40 seconds to issue.

This isn't about traffic flow. That stretch of the High Rd doesn't even benefit from being kept clear in the afternoon as it is between a bus stop that is built out into the road and a disabled bay further north which means that there is only ever one lane of traffic and not two, which would be the point of removing the parked cars. It would be much better to remove the restriction and allow 2 or 3 hours of free parking from 9am to 5pm with all other times being unrestricted.

This PCN will be fought all the way to tribunal stage.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard