26 June 2016

Will or May

The will/may argument had been a useful safety net for Mr Mustard but no longer
About a year ago Mr Mustard picked a useful argument up from somewhere, probably an appeal decision that he had read, to the effect that Barnet Council were wrong to use the word 'will' in their Notice of Rejection of Representations, rather than the word 'may', as allowed for in the legislation. On such little differences the outcome of a PCN can depend, as the meaning of the words differ greatly.

For all that time Barnet Council have insisted that the word 'will' was substantially compliant and some adjudicators did agree with them but more didn't and Mr Mustard could lose on the parking grounds but then win on the technicality.

This is what the Notice of Rejection used to look like:

and this is a typical decision made by an independent adjudicator, whose job is, of course, to apply the law, in case 2160097842:

So if you already have a Notice of Rejection in your possession and you may even have already lodged an Appeal at London Tribunals (they used to be called PATAS) and if your Notice of Rejection also contains the offending word 'will', then you may as well add the extra point of appeal to your case as it may save you from having to pay out funds.

After resisting for a year Barnet Council bowed to the inevitable and changed the word (they will say the old word was not wrong and they have only changed as a precautionary measure. Mr Mustard will find other arguments of general assistance & tends not to rely only on his safety net in any event). The Notice of Rejection, since early June?, now looks like this:

You can't, sadly, go back over previous PCN and demand a refund as once paid, they cannot be reopened.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

23 June 2016

How compliant is fully compliant?

Mr Mustard loves some of the nonsense which gets written in letters rejecting perfectly valid claims. Here is an example:

There are two possible problems with this sentence.

The first is that in the year 2016 Mr Mustard has completed his work on 82 Barnet Council PCN and has lost twice at the tribunal having been there 44 times. The other 38 PCN were cancelled by Barnet Council based upon what Mr Mustard himself said in his challenges so 38/82 = 46% of the time the council agree with him, 42/82 = 51% of the time an independent adjudicator, a lawyer, agrees with him and 2% of the time Mr Mustard is wrong (he is much more wrong when he is in Ealing, about 95% of the time but that is about a moving traffic violation case where the battle has been lost but the war continues) so maybe, just maybe, he was correct in this case. (1% is lost in rounding).

The second reason is that the argument employed is one that has been found in Mr Mustard's favour three times already at the tribunal and although tribunal decisions are not binding, they are persuasive, so the same outcome is likely.

The case will be at the tribunal by the end of July. We'll see how the alleged careful consideration of the representations pans out.

Councils really should not write rejection letters which are not even-handed as they have a general duty at law to be fair.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

22 June 2016

Traffic wardens lurking about at night in the borough of Barnet.

Last night Barnet moved from enforcing only during the hours of 7am to 11pm to sending traffic wardens out all night. The motivation is supposedly to 'ensure roads remain safe at night'. Mr Mustard doesn't suppose that there is more than 1% of the traffic at 5am that there is at 5pm and it is probably quite hard to find two moving cars to crash into each other.

On the other hand there will be people who have parked on the following, which are the target zones for traffic wardens, not that they have targets, well not official ones anyway:

Double yellow lines 
Dropped kerbs i.e. driveways (except your own but even then not if there is an operative Single yellow or double yellows) 
Disabled bays
Bus stops
Taxi ranks 
On the footpath or verge or anywhere that isn't the road itself
White zig zags

Now no motorist should be on any of those at 5am if there is a restriction at that time but if there isn't actually a traffic management problem being caused then it looks like nothing more than a further squeeze on the motorist in order to take pressure off the council budget.

You can ruin the council's dastardly plan by always parking 100% legally. The council will, in theory, be delighted about that as 100% compliance is the laughable offical aim of parking enforcement.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

17 June 2016

Yellow (box) Fever comes to Barnet

this is good advice
For many years yellow box junction rules have been enforced across London. Barnet was one of the few sane places where yellow box rules were not ruthlessly & mercenarily enforced and Barnet was none the worse for that as Mr Mustard can't remember his route being blocked at a yellow box junction since his business was started here in 1987.

not clear by the time you get there but clear now, at this very moment
The above sign is from outside the UK but perfectly encapsulates the way you have to drive if you wish to avoid a PCN for £130.

Starting from the beginning of May, and PCNs are working their way into Mr Mustard's email inbox, the following locations are being enforced by computerised cameras, cameras which are incredibly efficient (at least 99.9%) in spotting contraventions.

High St. Barnet has not been installed but Hendon Broadway has been, perhaps it is more profitable?

Mr Mustard has seen the bill for installing these cameras. It was £300,000 + vat because:

A.  That's how much Barnet Council care about road safety, or

B.  That's the sum worth investing in order to recover £millions in PCN income.

You decide which of the above two statements motivates our allegedly cash strapped council who can't afford to keep our libraries open but can afford to buy sneaky cameras to catch motorists who stop in a yellow box junction for a millisecond.

How do you avoid becoming a victim of the yellow box junction / money box junction. Those lovely (or possibly not) people at TfL have produced a video guide as to how to drive when approaching a yellow box junction. It bears absolutely no relation to how traffic flows in London, especially West Hampstead where the featured florist is located, and they have not put many vehicles in their demos so the video isn't related to real life in London

at 50s the car going north clearly enters the box before the exit is clear, oh dear, TfL! and at 1.13 / 1.14 when real traffic flow is featured, oops.

Sadly, TfL, who wouldn't engage on twitter, have made a mistake in their video & let the red van enter the yellow box at 39s (freeze the video there) when the exit is not clear by a van length. If the white car had catastrophically broken down and stopped at that point, the red van would have been in contravention and received a PCN from an automatic camera system which has no humanity.

If we all drove in this way, waiting for the entire box to be clear, only 2 or 3 cars would get across the yellow box in the green phase of the traffic lights and London would grind to a halt, thus defeating the traffic management purpose.

This though is how you should drive in London & Barnet if you want to be sure that you will not receive a PCN. What of course most people do is judge the traffic flow and estimate that the exit will be clear by the time they get there, that is wrong and then, if the traffic should stop before they anticipated, they will be punished by a £130 PCN. It is a rough world.

These PCN are hard to beat. Please drive the way that TfL suggest (but allow even more space than they do in their not quite correct video), jam Barnet up but avoid wasting your hard earned cash.

Currently Mr Mustard does have an escape route for yellow box junction PCN but he doesn't expect it to last, so please drive smarter and slower using the TfL method and note the areas currently monitored by all seeing cameras:

A5 Cricklewood Broadway southbound at Kara Way

Station Road, Edgware

West Hendon Broadway northbound at Cool Oak Lane.

High St, High Barnet, jct of St Albans Rd and jct with Wood St.

High Road, Finchley, near Sainsburys.

and more besides

You have been warned.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

15 June 2016

Haringey Council start to take notice

On 5 February Mr Mustard's client, let us call him Ted, challenged a PCN that he had received in The Broadway, N8 on the grounds that the signs were ambiguous, that the sign on the pole is different to the one on the meter and that you can't paint a single yellow inside a parking bay within a CPZ. The challenge was rejected on 18 March.

Following receipt of the Notice to Owner, Mr Mustard made the identical challenge on 15 April. The council have accepted the second challenge (known as formal representations) as they now agree that the signs were not correct.

Three questions occur to Mr Mustard.

1.  Why didn't the council check the signs before they rejected Ted's challenge?
2.  What if Ted had believed the council, who must surely tell the truth and who have a general duty at law to be procedurally fair, and paid up? No-one would ever have known.
3.  Will Haringey Council now refund everyone who has been ticketed at the same spot in The Broadway N8 (Crouch End). 

If you were ticketed in the wrongly signed bay outside Boots in Crouch End why not demand a refund? An honest council would refund you.

The other point which would not have been lost on Mr Mustard had the council rejected the challenge is that they were too late to do so. The council get 56 days after your representations against a Notice to Owner are received by them. They sent the Notice of Acceptance on 13 June, which was day 56, but it was only served today so they would have been out of time in any event.

Mr Mustard suggests that you need to be very wary of much that emanates from council parking departments and even more so, from their contractors. It is all about the money.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

A reader has asked Mr Mustard to provide the legislation which supports the 56 days mentioned above. Here it is.