19 September 2016

What does adjacent mean?

There is a contravention of being adjacent to a dropped kerb, one lowered to meet the level of the carriageway so that pedestrians can cross the road, cars can enter a resident's drive and cyclists can access cycle lanes. 

Adjacent is usually interpreted as overhanging and a few inches might, especially in the case of a wide access, be regarded as trivial by an adjudicator.

A PCN has been issued for this car being adjacent to a dropped kerb. It simply isn't.

The tapered (it slopes down) kerb counts for nothing as it isn't at the level of the carriageway. This is a perfectly considerate piece of parking.

Perhaps the parking of the residents of, and visitors to, Barnet is getting better such that traffic wardens have to issue PCNs to cars which are obviously not in contravention to make the ticket targets that are meant to not exist but perhaps do.

A resident should not have to defend themselves from such trickery.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

A lovely local walk on Sunday 9 October

18 September 2016

Capita - 7 months to do something

Images for 7 months were all about babies, which is fine by Mr Mustard, but he preferred the 7 Monks image. Perhaps the Capita staff were all in the pub (or taproom) all that time instead of doing what they were, at a guess, contracted to do.

Mr Mustard's contact renewed his Resident Permit in February 2016. As a model citizen he uploaded the necessary documents to prove ownership and residence. In September 16 he received the following email:


After review of the documentation supplied to support your current Emissions based resident permit, we have identified that the documents you have provided are incorrect.

To validate your permit, I require one of the following documents:-

1.   V5 Log Book – Please note that we do not accept the New Keeper Supplement
2.   Insurance Schedule – Please note we do not accept the Insurance Certificate
3.   Vehicle Hire Agreement showing the vehicle is hired for a period of 6 months or more.
Whilst I am sure this is an oversight*, can you please submit your documents electronically to parking.verification@barnet.gov.uk within 7 days quoting your permit number in the subject heading.

Failure to comply could result in your Parking Permit being cancelled leaving your vehicle liable to a Penalty Charge Notice/s being issued by our Parking Enforcement Officers.

* They can't be sure of anything, not even their own names probably.

Of course the resident can't remember which document they uploaded SEVEN MONTHS AGO so they will simply do it again.

Mr Mustard can't help but think that the contract, or service agreement, had much tighter timescales for checking documents. If it didn't then the council are incompetent, if it did then Capita are incompetent as are the council for not properly auditing what they are not doing.

Doubly incompetent.

What this means is that anyone can apply for a permit for any vehicle for any zone and park for free for over half of the year before being found out, or maybe they won't be? Mr Mustard did not suggest that dishonest course of action to you.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

16 September 2016

Operation Target MiniBus

There is an Overnight Waiting Ban, about which Mr Mustard has already written, to prevent lorries and minibuses which weigh more than 5 tonnes, from parking in Barnet overnight (except off road of course). Minibuses which weigh more than 5 tonnes and only have 12 passenger seats are not meant to be caught by this ban but get ticketed. The buses are often used for charitable, religious or large family purposes and that would be a good reason to exclude them from enforcement.

The ban usually starts at 6.30pm and runs through the night to 8am. This is what one of the signs that Barnet Council erected many moons ago looks like:

There is no requirement for any yellow lines so drivers must be careful.

Until recently enforcement was only up until 11pm but then there was a wholly unnecessary change to 24 hour enforcement (no it's not about the money, how could you even think such a thing) and Mr Mustard noticed a surge in PCNs for breaching the Overnight Waiting Ban which no-one had ever heard of. As the restriction started at 6.30pm there was ample opportunity for traffic wardens to issue PCNs for this contravention before they went off shift at 11pm.

Mr Mustard decided to send for the statistics on the issue of PCNs for breaching this overnight ban, which are issued under code 55. The answer is revealing.

You can't tell Mr Mustard that there hasn't been a recent management (NSL?) decision to rigorously enforce this contravention, this is ticket targeting by any measure.

Mr Mustard and council parking management don't see eye to eye on this contravention. Both sides are looking forward to their day at the tribunal in order to have an independent adjudicator settle the matter. Place your bets.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

5 September 2016

Short shrift in a Barnet Council car park

No harm is being caused

The photo at top left is part of the Moxon Street Car Park in EN5 (High or Chipping Barnet as you please).

The next two photographs show the car of a new driver, aged 18, who left room at the front of his modest car, a VW Polo, to be considerate and careful near the thumping great big expensive Range Rover which was parked across his front bumper. For this he got a PCN for being parked partly outside of the bay.

Mr Mustard set to work. He made an informal challenge and pointed out the shortness of the bay. The council (NSL most probably) rejected the challenge and said that the bays were DfT compliant (Department for Transport). Mr Mustard pointed out that the bay was a mere 3.85m in length. An old VW Polo is about 3.7m in length (all cars grow as they evolve).

Mr Mustard knew that there are no rules for these bays so he asked for the DfT rules that the council were relying on. An interim manager sent him the rules. Mr Mustard checked the link and it was for Northern Ireland and not applicable to off street parking in England and not from the DfT. However, the bays were still meant to be at least 4.8m in length. Mr Mustard pointed this out. Still the council wanted the PCN to be paid.

The council then maintained that they had merely sent guidance and that the bays were of an adequate size for 'most cars'. Mr Mustard considers a VW Polo to be at the shorter end of the scale of most cars. Mr Mustard checked the balance of the PCN. All of a sudden it was £0.00. Doubtless this was something to do with the traffic management order for the car park saying that cars up to 5.5m in length could park there. Given that rule, the bays must, in all fairness, be at least 5.5m in length. This is Bunns Lane all over again. When will the Council learn?

Please don't pay any car park PCN for being outside the bay if your car is too long to fit within the bay as marked.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

2 September 2016

Make an error - make up to £110 for Barnet Council

No. 4 Church Walk has the tree and the dark blue For Sale board outside it.

No. 1 Church Walk is to the top right of picture.

Mr Mustard's latest client parked where the blue saloon car is to the centre left of picture, next to all the nettles. This is the back of a garage from the next street and so does not have a number.

She received a PCN for being in the part of the bay that was suspended. Quite simply, it isn't, and any competent traffic warden should be able to work that out. Sadly an incompetent one, or maybe just a confused one if you are being charitable, could not work it out. So many people, especially the elderly, would just pay up - you really shouldn't do that. You must fight or this sort of thing will never stop. Mr Mustard will make a complaint.

A traffic warden has to 'believe' a contravention has been committed before issuing a PCN. There is no right to such a belief in this case. There really should be automatic compensation for the motorist's time, trouble, stress & inconvenience in such blatant cases of council error.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 September 2016

The 56 day law

Mr Mustard had a PCN cancelled by Barnet Council parking management yesterday on the simple basis that they were acting ultra vires (outside of its powers).

For parking PCN (not for moving traffic contraventions or bus lanes where there is a 90 day guideline) where you have made 'formal representations' (just a challenge in plain English) against a PCN received through the post (as it acts in effect as the Notice to Owner) or where you have made formal representations after receiving a Notice to Owner the council get 56 days, starting with the date on which they received the said representations, to write and accept or reject them. If the council fail to respond they are deemed to have accepted the representations and the PCN cannot be chased further. (The fact that the public only get 28 days to respond to a Notice to Owner is an inbuilt system unfairness).

Mr Mustard had submitted the representations by email (you can do this to barnet@nsl.co.uk - set a delivery receipt) on 15 June and that is day 1. The council therefore had to serve their response by 9 August. What they did was to post their negative response (Notice of Rejection of representations) on 9 August and service is, unless shown otherwise, presumed to have occurred on 11 August. The council were therefore late and their Notice of Rejection was an unlawful offer to make an Appeal to the Adjudicator or to pay £110.

Mr Mustard counts the days (is 8 weeks) on a printed calendar or uses a spreadsheet to calculate 56 days but there is a useful on line calculator here
and Mr Mustard has given you the worked example for 56 days from 15 June

As this calculator counts the start date you choose as day 0 not day 1 you only add 55 days and you should do the same with your chosen date.

Mr Mustard is now waiting to find out the answer as to why there are not systems in place to stop the council from breaking the law in the way they did. This case will not be the only one in which they have acted illegally, they just tried to defraud £110 from the wrong victim this time.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard