31 October 2016

Why bother with planning rules in Barnet?

Here is a question put to the leader of the council in advance of tomorrow's full council meeting.

A straightforward question and one would expect to see most breaches being enforced as it is surely the duty of the council to do so, otherwise, if the public & developers only knew what they could get away with, there would be mayhem (oops, sorry).

Mr Mustard did not expect all these breaches just being left without further action (but of course they cost money to enforce which doesn't raise any revenue for the council, one of those costs they would rather do without?).

That is a shocking number of 'No further actions' and 'under investigation' which take longer than a year to complete?

What do we pay 'Re:'  (Regional Enterprise the company which Capita own 51% of) to enforce planning rules? Too much or not enough?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

20 October 2016

Waltham Forest don't see the wood for the trees

Mr Mustard's client was trying to park in a shared use bay so he could pay to park. A skip was in the way. He drove past it and parked. He didn't notice that he was now in a bay for residents.

A traffic warden wandered along. He issued a PCN for being in a shared use bay, viz:

Parked in a residents' or shared use parking place or zone without either clearly displaying a valid permit or voucher or pay and display ticket issued for that place, or without payment of the parking charge (shared use bay).

Mr Mustard made an informal challenge (the name given to what you firstly argue against the issue of the PCN to a vehicle) as follows:

The PCN states I was in a shared use bay.

I was parked in a residents' bay.

The contravention did not occur.

This was a slam dunk challenge, except in Waltham Forest. If you get it wrong they are merciless but if they get it wrong, they haven't!

Oh please. The PCN has in brackets at the end of the standard contravention wording 'shared use bay' so the die is cast. Waltham Forest have opted to issue a PCN for the contravention of being in a shared use bay.

If instead they want to renege on that choice they have a separate problem. A PCN must state:

The grounds on which the civil enforcement officer serving the notice believes that a penalty charge is payable; and a choice of contraventions is not the grounds (there are plenty of PATAS decisions which are persuasive in support of Mr Mustard's viewpoint)

Heads Mr Mustard wins. Tails you lose Waltham Forest.

The council are also forgetting their duty to be procedurally fair. By stretching the PCN description to breaking point, they certainly are not being fair. They will tell you anything to try and get you to pay a PCN. Mr Mustard's client certainly does not want to pay them the 50% they so generously offered to accept when they are 100% in the wrong, he will take his chances at the tribunal in due course which will cost the council £30 in tribunal fees.

One day, perhaps, councils will realise that you can't bluff Mr Mustard. Until then, they will burn fees
Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update 21 October

Today, Barnet Council received an informal email from Mr Mustard to a member of the management team pointing out a process error of the same type as above. A 12S PCN issued when 12R was applicable. No ifs no buts, no rollocks about what words mean, but a simple cancellation and a helpful, thankful, apologetic email after 1h and 44m. That's the way to do it. All parties save time and the council don't waste a £30 tribunal fee. Come on WF.

19 October 2016

Have you heard of London Councils?

So council tax payers give this body almost 700 million £ to play with and you don't know who they are.

In the parking area they set the contravention code descriptions, they suggest PCN values for the Mayor to decide upon, they run London Tribunals (formerly PATAS) which independently adjudicate on PCN issued by the boroughs who provide the funds with which to run London Councils and they host quarterly meetings of parking managers which have, until today, taken place without the disinfecting glare of publicity.

Mr Mustard decided to ask for the minutes. This is what he got for the June 16 meeting.

Note the redaction (blacking out) of the names of every single person who was in the room. Now that isn't what Mr Mustard calls open and transparent and the names of managers, likely to earn enough to be within the definition for release of senior employee & public facing, really should be released.

Mr Mustard wonders about the point of these quarterly meetings. If they are really important then surely every London local authority would send a person to keep abreast of developments in the world of parking (and moving traffic). If they are just a talking shop followed by a trip to the local tavern then fair enough, don't bother.

The following boroughs did not send a delegate (most boroughs have 50 to 100 employees in parking so you would think they could find someone who fancied a trip up town?)

Kensington & Chelsea

which is more than a quarter of them.

There is more to come on this subject.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

18 October 2016

It is a long way to the parking meter

High Barnet Post Office is at 63/65 High St, EN5. Here is the sign which is outside of it (signs not facing the road is a defence you can run as are misleading signs).

All 3 signs require some attention.
To get to the parking meter at 85 High Road, N2 is going to take a while and doubtless you will be on foot, you don't move your car to go to the parking meter, you'll lose your space. It does give you the defence though that you had not paid as you had gone off in search of the meter using google maps as your guide.

In that time the traffic warden will, naturally, be issuing you with a PCN.

Of course what the traffic warden should be doing is straightening up the signs that are there (why don't they carry a small toolkit so they can make minor adjustments on the hoof?) is reporting the sign that is wrong. Mr Mustard shouldn't be the one who has to do it.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

17 October 2016

Double parked - double standards

Avoid double parking if you can
So Barnet Council issue a PCN for being double parked (Mr Mustard's client was alighting his sleeping son, observation time was a mere minute) whilst the car used to transport the traffic wardens, the white one with its headlights ablaze, is itself double parked.

They daren't go out on their own after dark. One takes photos, the other issues the PCN.

There is no exemption for the car which the traffic wardens drive to be double parked; the law is above. Is Mr Mustard the only person who thinks it is unattractive, a bad example, hypocritical & perverse for a traffic warden to commit the very contravention that he/she is issuing a PCN for?

There needs to be someone with the authority to force councils to behave rather than continue on their pillaging ways. Clearly the black car was not doing any harm. Move it forward a metre so the bumper is above the date stamp and it would not be in contravention.

Mr Mustard is not going to retire until the council start to behave in a decent manner. Don't hold your breath.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

13 October 2016

5 October 2016

We mustn't let council revenue raising stall

A recent decison from a Traffic Adjudicator
Is there no limit to the depths to which Barnet Council (and/or NSL) will sink to extract money from an innocent motorist? A learner driver must be allowed to learn to master clutch control without the fear of their instructor being penalised. (Ignoring a banned turn would be a different matter as the instructor should prevent that from happening).

Mr Mustard's guess is that the cctv extracts retained by the council are so short that the full situation was not apparent and the council took the view that the motorist is always guilty (they nearly always have that as their default position).

The adjudicator probably only took 20 seconds herself to make this decision.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard