26 February 2016

The 271 - route change sounds like a bad idea

Dear Mr Mustard

I saw you dropped a comment on Twitter to Highgate Forum about the 271 proposals.

My mother lives in North Road and is absolutely horrified by the proposed plans, as am I.

Essentially, they are moving the 271 out of Highgate Village, a broadly commercial area, and into North Road, a broadly residential area. That means that she will have 7 buses parked across from her house, revving their engines at night to keep warm.

More significantly, they plan to reduce North Rd to a single lane in each direction. This means that at school drop off/ pick up times, whenever a house or business receives a delivery (like the Red Lion and Sun does every Monday at 9am), or when an ambulance has to pick someone up, the road will be impassable. Completely.

The petrol station does not think his fuel tanker will be able to deliver and the Red Lion and Sun are worried about the fact that a new mini roundabout will be plonked in front of their garden with 20 odd buses per hour trying to U turn there. They anticipate the noise and fumes will impact on their trade.

I suspect the traffic will back up into Highgate Village and down North Road. Not so pretty.

Also, there are no cycle paths.

Anyway, if you fancy responding to the consultation, you can find it here

Much love


24 February 2016

A horror in Haringey

You will struggle to believe that a council, a body with a legal duty to be fair

R-v-Secretary of State for Home Department ex p. Doody (1994) (House of Lords) per Lord Mustill : "Where an Act of Parliament confers an administrative power there is a presumption that it will be exercised in a manner which is fair in all the circumstances" (The noble Lords clearly forgot to add 'except in Haringey' )

could stoop this low, or maybe you think that all parking departments are venal and rapacious. Certainly there are plenty of examples of a complete lack of ethics when it comes to PCN.

Here is the alleged contravention from the postal PCN

and here is one of the two photographs from the council website (the second photo is of the time plate)

Look at the bottom of the photograph. The photograph is timed at 18:32 so unless the driver decided to reverse back into the space and somehow avoid being photographed and also avoid being given a PCN or having one stuck to the windscreen (which of course they didn't) then at 18:34 the car was half a mile up the road.

Mr Mustard wonders if this should be treated as an attempted fraud and reported to the police. Despite this being obviously mischeivous the car owner still has to make representations as otherwise they will become guilty by default, which is one of the flaws of the way that the legislation is written.

If you have a PCN which has been dished out by CEO (traffic warden) 542, Mr Mustard would suggest you study it very carefully for any signs of trickery.

Perhaps the time of the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Nick Walkley could be better spent in instilling honesty into parking staff and contractors (this will of course be the work of just one rogue traffic warden, yawn) instead of faffing about spending thousands on wretched logos.

Almost the new Haringey logo:thanks Alan
Any lawyers who happen to be reading are invited to comment upon possible actions that could be taken against Haringey Council. Mr Mustard will deal with the PCN itself.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

19 February 2016

Aren't Parking Eye wonderful, again?

Are Parking Eye the fish or the predator?
Mr Mustard is blogging for the second time about the 'kindness' of Parking Eye (part of Capita) but things aren't necessarily what they seem. The problem Mr Mustard was faced with was that out of nowhere PE had written to his client in January 2016 threatening her with various fates including court proceedings for a Parking Charge at Barnet Hospital from the 4th quarter of 2014. It appears that PE are raking through their old cases to see if they can squeeze a few more quid out of them. You can easily imagine how frightened old folks get who don't have the help of Mr Mustard or some other expert (and private tickets aren't really his bag but he feels obliged to help frightened people).

Here is what he wrote to PE.

Dear Sirs

I represent Mrs Blue Badge (why do you address her as "Dear Sir / Madam" when you know which she is?).

She is a lady in her 80s who has reduced mobility and uses a wheeled frame. She also suffers from various ailments (not unusual in an 80+ year old) and has to attend hospital from time to time. She does display her blue badge when she visits Barnet Hospital and got a parking charge notice once (as she didn't realise the system had changed) but asked the hospital to cancel it on her next visit which they did do (presumably by agreement with yourselves). I don't know if that was this charge notice or another one but not many people keep paperwork for completed matters until 2016.

I don't know where you sent earlier letter / notices (and would like copies of them all) but you have written to an address at which my client does not and never has lived. She lived at Barracks Rd for 50 years prior to moving into Old Folks Court. She has the benefit of my free assistance and so does not ignore paperwork about alleged parking contraventions. As it happens she is known at xxx Great North Road and the occupier opened your letter in error but this has still led to embarrassment for my client.

You may, in all the circumstances, wish to consider cancelling the claim.

Yours faithfully

This is what PE wrote in reply.

Dear Mr. Mustard

Thank you for your recent correspondence in regards to this matter.
On this occasion as a gesture of goodwill we will be cancelling this charge.
Kind regards

ParkingEye Enforcement Team

Part of Capita Parking Services

What they didn't do was send Mr Mustard copies of the correspondence which he had asked to see (no surprise there as it might have been embarrassing with the incorrect addresses on it) and there isn't any explanation or apology for the data breach and PE are probably hoping that given the cancellation Mr Mustard won't take the matter any further. Mr Mustard's client isn't one to cause a fuss, or deliberately break parking rules, so this time PE will get away with their doubtful behaviour.

If anything similar happens to you, complain.

In Mr Mustard's experience PE are making a packet out of blue badge holders at hospitals who don't realise they have to register their blue badge and car(s) at reception because this is compeltely different to the guide issued by the government about how to use your blue badge (which only applies to the public highway).

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Capita Contract Review - not the Secret one

1.      Details of the council’s formal Capita CSG contract review process can be found here:
2.      For more information about the council’s working group meetings being held in secret see this link and this one

For more information contact Cllr Geof Cooke: cllr.g.cooke@barnet.gov.uk

18 February 2016

To turn a 'No' into a 'Yes' simply persist

Mr Mustard decides at the beginning if he is going to fight a PCN to the end. If he isn't, the client pays the 50% of the PCN's full value. If he decides to fight he fights to the end, through 3 challenges if necessary, and ignores any re-offers of a 50% discount.

This is the informal challenge (made in response to a PCN placed on a vehicle) recently.

The response was as follows

so that's a clear 'no', the PCN is still valid. There are no signs telling you about leaving your car if you have insufficient change (Mr Mustard recommends that you keep a bag of change in your car for this very purpose though as it isn't a valid defence to a PCN for non-payment) nor is there a council parking meter anywhere in the borough which takes cash, that is an NSL employee waxing lyrical and/or writing trite nonsense.

Mr Mustard isn't one to give in so he waited until his client had the Notice to Owner and then sent in the following representations which, you will notice, are identical to the earlier ones. You need to tell a consistent story and it doesn't matter that the council have already rejection your challenge, they have to consider it afresh.

Suddenly the council changed its tune.

So an unacceptable challenge is suddenly acceptable due to technical error (a meaningless phrase). What if Mr Green had paid when first rejected, he would have paid in error. The council need to think more carefully about the initial challenge. Whichever stage he is rejected at Mr Mustard will take the council to London Tribunals (ex PATAS) which costs them £33 win or lose. They need to learn to save time and money by noticing their technical errors at an early stage.

The council are correct that Mr Musatrd should have said code 5. That requires a 5 minutes observation, code 11 only requires 3 except that thanks to Eric Pickles MP you have to be 10 minutes past the paid for time before you can be given a PCN.

Please don't be easily put off. Fight to the end.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

17 February 2016

Beam me up Scotty

Mr Mustard is indebted to a PCN client who reads The Archer


and to The Archer (good for all news of East Finchley) themselves for giving permission to reproduce the following article from their February 16 monthly newspaper.

To add some detail, it is common for instant PCN to be given which completely lacks common-sense or fairness but the traffic warden must speed on his/her way to issue as many PCN as humanly possible, even though there aren't targets, no sirree.

Barnet Parking Services are not in Sheffield, a scanning machine is. Back Office parking is in Croydon (of course) senior management are in the North London Business Park (for now) and traffic wardens are based in Solar House in North Finchley. Joined up government if ever there was any. Oh yes, and permits seem to be processed by Capita in Coventry although that isn't very clear at present.

Eva is bang on the money.

The adjudicator, as quoted above, was correct and was much milder than some adjudicators on the subject of getting a visitor permit beamed from a property to a car without human help (perhaps we will all soon have to own a drone to send the voucher down to the car?).

The council are obliged to accept the decision of the adjudicator unless he applied the law wrongly which he didn't so they were stuck and had no say in the matter, they just have to suck it up.

The council will still use this stupid idea in their letters of rejection. Be like Eva, fight them to the end, it costs the council c. £33 in tribunal fees. If you need help with a similar PCN please email copies to mrmustard@zoho.com

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

13 February 2016

Permit scheme lottery

Mr Mustard has been informed that he is hopelessly wrong so he has edited this blog post. Apparently Barnet Council themselves are responsible for the permit address database fiasco & not Capita (sorry Capita).

Mr Mustard isn't talking about the Camelot run lottery (he's a bit over excited this morning having won the EuroMillions lottery yesterday evening - the £9.70 will get him a nice bottle of Rioja to share with his paramour) but about the permit reminder lottery. Not only have Barnet Council got the permit eligibility database in a right old mess with:

- some homes having the wrong postcode
- some homes not existing
- some homes listed twice
- a property with 3 flats having only 2 on the database
- some streets being in the database twice, think 'St' & 'St.'
- Barnet addresses containing the word London

and there may well be other problems and the unresolved problem is 4 months old, they've also got no idea who has a permit and it is Mr Mustard's guess that they have bolted the information together from various sources as some people don't get a permit reminder (despite 20+ years of relying on one) the first they realise the problem is when they are hit with a PCN, others got 4 reminders. A local resident passed 3 of his reminders on to Mr Mustard and kept the fourth one to actually process. A lady who lives not 20m away didn't get a reminder at all. They are both long term (decades) residents.

Here they are (two were posted on the very same day):

Errors on page 1? 

There wasn't an initial between 'Mr' and 'Smith' (not his real name) so if the household contained a father and his two sons, all of whom drove, they would not know which of them the letter was intended for and there wasn't a car registration number on it either.

Electronic renewal and permits does not make the process 'easier and more convenient'. If you don't have a computer you still have to phone up and obtain a form to complete. Once received by the council the permit team then find that your address doesn't exist and you run into time trouble. If only you could visit your local library with your paperwork and have staff do the renewal on line for you?

'Parking officers' is too vague a term, they mean Civil Enforcement Officers, commonly known as traffic wardens.

Emissions based charges only apply to the first car, this is not made clear, so try to renew the car with the least CO2 first.

Four additional cars was voted through, not 4 cars in total at one address.

Air pollution will hardly change in Barnet as only about 10% of cars are inside CPZs and if you are spending £40,000 on a car, will an extra £30 for your permit make you change your mind and buy a lower CO2 model? (no of course not).

Mr Mustard has just checked his October 2015 credit card bill. The permit charge was £40 not £40.72 so an extra 1.8% isn't being charged (unless of course you know different).

Mr Mustard thinks that the only reminders which will be sent from now on are emails so if you renew manually you'll have to put a note somewhere that you will see it regularly (now that there isn't a permit on your car which you might happen to notice the date of). This would be a failure, in his view, to make due adjustment for the elderly and the disabled.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

11 February 2016

Bacon Lane being cured (*sorry*)

Regular readers will know that in Bacon Lane in NW9 thanks to a row of trees down the middle of the road, that is where people parked, in the middle of the road, thus committing the contravention of 'double parking' despite them being nowhere near another car. Suddenly Brent Council started to issue PCN. They have now done the decent thing.

So well done Brent Council. Legitimate expectation is an argument that often plays well at the tribunal.

Could you now please take another look at Chamberlayne Road into Bolton Gardens and see if you can make the turn physically impossible rather than milk the motorist by all those cctv supported PCN. Thank you.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

4 February 2016

Bailiffs don't like it up em

Not the car in question

Mr Mustard has often wondered if bailiff's vans get ticketed as he suspects that bailiffs think they are above parking law when it comes to themselves. Well in Lambeth they aren't above the law (Mr Mustard doesn't know if they were enforcing a Lambeth warrant or not). What is so helpful is to find a jobsworth CEO (traffic warden) who needs to meet his non-existent quota of PCN who issues a ticket despite whatever the bailiff might say. The traffic warden is correct, a bailiff going around enforcing a penalty for not complying with traffic/parking regulations should him/herself comply with them all.

Lambeth Parking back office held firm and rejected the representations which were made and the PCN ended up at London Tribunals (formerly PATAS) and below is the result:

So there we have it, the bailiff's van was not, in fact, on the footway. What a pity that the traffic warden did not take a better photograph as the result could have been different.

The part of the story above which is wrong is that the bailiff used his van to block the garage of the debtor, a bailiff cannot deprive you of your right to go about your daily business. There aren't many garages in Virgil St, it may have been one of these which have dropped kerbs. 

If only the PCN had been issued for being adjacent to a dropped kerb, the outcome would again probably have been different.

If a bailiff blocks you in, phone the police and report the obstruction or phone the council to come out and issue a PCN.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard