29 June 2018

Barnet Council failure leads to costs against them

an awful lot of signs to take in whilst also watching for people crossing the road
This report concerns a motorist who got caught in Sunny Gardens Road on a Saracens Match Day. The decision of the adjudicator from the Appeal follows, the motorist attended and Barnet Council relied on their bundle of evidence.

The issue in the case is whether the signage was adequate.

The EA case is that the Appellant's vehicle had parked in a permit holder's bay, without displaying a permit, and so a PCN was issued to the vehicle.

The EA rely on contemporaneous notes and photographs.

The Appellant's case is that the signage is not adequate. He has specified the route taken to visit his friend, and taken a series of photographs illustrating the various challenges faced in trying to see/read the signage in place.

The EA case is that the road is within a CPZ, which applies during events, and which dates are posted.

Both parties have filed photographs and made written submissions.

I have heard from the Appellant and read the remaining evidence.

It appears from the EA map that the route taken by the Appellant means that he would encounter 4 possible sets of CPZ signs. His case is that the first set are a mile from when he was due to park (and the second set 3/4 of a mile from where he was due to park), and as he was not contemplating then parking could not reasonably be expected to have had to have regard to them. There is some force in that argument, because these are temporary restrictions - so that as well as reading that it was a CPZ, the motorist would have to take in the forthcoming dates. In my view this sets too great a burden on the motorist. In respect of the first sign I also note that the sign would easily be discounted / missed; at that point a vehicle would be turning off the A41, which is a busy and fast moving road.

In respect of the third sign the Appellant has provided evidence that there were two trees prior to the junction, one large, and then one small, so that the motorist's view would be obscured such that he would be non-sighted save at the point of turning left (and fortuitously looking at the sign).

In respect of the fourth sign, this was located very close to the house he was visiting, but again he has provided photographs showing that there were trees planted in front; even if not in leaf, they obscured the smaller plates which show the dates.

In summary, - bearing in mind that the motorist is not just looking for the CPZ sign, but for a smaller sign, with dates on it - I find that the signage for was not adequate on this day in these circumstances to communicate the restriction.

I therefore allow the appeal.

Having won his case the motorist then decided to apply for costs. These are awarded rarely, no more thar a dozen times a year per enforcement authority.  This motorist was logical, organised & determined and made out a good enough argument to convince the adjudicator that Barnet Council had been wholly unreasonable. Here is the decision.

I allowed this appeal on 4th April 2018, following an oral hearing, at which the Appellant attended but the EA did not.

The issue was the adequacy of signage; I found that the signage was not adequate; both parties had filed evidence on the point. I made findings as to inadequacy, as argued by the Appellant, on each of the 4 signs which the EA relied on to show that the motorist had fair warning of the restrictions. The decision was not subject to onward challenge by the EA. The decision does not set a precedent. There may well be decisions of other Adjudicators finding that the signage was adequate - as argued by the EA - but there is no test case on it, and I no specific decision was drawn to my attention and so cannot see what evidence those Adjudicators had access to.

The Appellant now seeks costs, on the basis that the EA were wholly unreasonable and vexatious. He relies on letters dated 5th and 6th April and 25th May. The EA have filed a response on 8th June 2018 disputing the claim.

The Appellant says that the following conduct engaged the Regulations: he disclosed his case in representations and adduced evidence, and yet the EA pursued and challenged it; the Council produced highly misleading photographs; there was poor pagination of the bundle which necessitated a personal hearing and additional letters; the Council produced a bundle of over 200 pages, which were not germane to the issue.

The EA say that the Appellant has failed to produce receipts for his expenses, that the decision does not set a precedent and has been found adequate by other Adjudicators, that the Adjudicator had wrongly found that the restrictions were temporary as they were in place since 2013 and the vehicle had been parked 3/4 of the mile from the sign, the Appellant could have had a postal hearing, and so the Appellant need not have opted for an oral hearing.

I start my consideration of the application for costs from the following point of view; I do consider that costs awards should be made sparingly, as parties should be able to come to the Tribunal and have their say, without the fear of costs orders being made, and which may otherwise deter them. It would be quite wrong for motorists who have simply misunderstood rules of signage to be subject to the penalty of costs if they are inevitably going to lose their appeal. The draftsmen clearly intended that costs should be awarded only in limited circumstances from the language of the Regulations.

On this occasion I allow costs for the following reasons.

The Appellant has discharged the burden of showing that the disputed decision was wholly unreasonable (Regulation 13(1)(b)) and that the EA were wholly unreasonable in resisting the appeal.

The Appellant has satisfied me that he made very detailed representations in response to the notice to owner, dated 12th December 2017, which set out his route, a description of the problems with the signage, and photographs in support. The notice of rejection dated 23rd January 2017 simply says that there is signage in place with which the motorist must familiarise himself, but does not address the question of adequacy and the specific points made. There was considerable force in the Appellant's view that his representations had not been properly addressed; inevitably an appeal was filed.

The EA seek in their submissions to rely on past appeals having been refused (and the EA decision upheld), to conclude this signage was adequate in respect of this appeal; however, any outcome will depend on the evidence adduced before the Adjudicator, and so the EA cannot simply resort to this without proper enquiry of the evidence in those other cases.

In this case the appeal was allowed before me on the evidence which was before the EA at the point that representations were made; so the EA should have considered it at that point, and concluded that the signage was not adequate.

The EA seek in the costs representations to say that the decision wrongly refers to "temporary" signs; I agree that this could have been better expressed, as signs which operate on event days only, so will frequently change. The point remains that as the signs with the dates on them are small, require careful reading, and which is more challenging when the vehicle is moving and on major roads, the more clear and obvious the signage.

The Appellant makes other points as to lack of pagination of the bundle and a large bundle of little relevance, but I do not consider these points to amount to evidence of unreasonably conduct.

As to assessment of costs, the Appellant can claim for time spent and costs incurred only from the date of the disputed decision (notice of rejection). Further, as the jurisdiction of the Tribunal is similar to the jurisdiction of the country court, the litigant in person rate of £9.25 is apposite. I allow time and expenses for travel: the Appellant does not have to justify why he wishes to attend an oral hearing; he is entitled to do so, and is indeed helpful where routes/photographs/signage/perspective are relevant to the decision.

I accept, in light of the Appellant's address, that his travel claim in terms of expenses of £55.10 is reasonable and reasonably incurred.

In light of the distance, the length of travel is reasonable, as is the time in the hearing, and preparation time for filing the notice of appeal, entering into correspondence, raising issues, drafting letters, and preparing for the hearing, I allow 9 hours in total at £9.25 per hour (£83.25).

I therefore make a costs award in the Appellant's favour of £138.35.

The litigant in person rate is now £19 per hour so even more could have been awarded.

Interesting points from Mr Musatrd's point of view is that a CPZ is only meant to cover a small number of streets not huge areas which lead to the vital signs being a long way away and this decision helps with the argument that signage is not adequate & often there will only be one sign that was passed about a mile away.

The evidence bundle of 200 pages does outface many motorists who don't then study it carefully. One day Mr Mustard will get around to dissecting and explaining an evidence bundle to you and suggest an order in which to tackle it and what to look for.

In this case the motorist put his cards on the table early and detailed his approach route so the only signs the council needed to produce were the ones between the edge of the zone and his stopping point. It was lazy of the council (or possibly NSL who do most of the back office work) to put every sign for the Saracens zone in the bundle as that was simply padding.

The Statutory Guidance of the Secreatary of State requires that a Notice of Rejection should be as follows

Thus merely saying that the signs are there and not explaining how they were adequate and how they could be seen despite the trees doesn't cut it and their arrogant and unhelpful summary dismissal has cost them dear. Mr Mustard sees numerous similar Notices of Rejection. Barnet Council need to improve their written responses.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

28 June 2018

NCP can be nice

far too complicated
Mr Mustard has the good fortune to meet some lovely and interesting people when he is fighting parking tickets (PCNs). One of them turned out to have worked at Bletchley Park on the bombe decoding machine and Mr Mustard realised, upon meeting her, that 5 years ago he had visited Bletchley Park and he had stood in front of the very same lady who was demonstrating and explaining how the machine worked. Her brain is still incredibly sharp despite her 90+ years.

She emailed Mr Mustard recently:

I can’t contact NCP after long try, so can you help me please.  Today, after a  stressful struggle with this unknown “facility” and ill explained ticket machine,  I incorrectly entered the car reg. as AB123 HXM  but should be AD12 HXM  - this due to dark basement and elderly person’s shaking hand! I did not find this out until I returned home. Though I put in more money than I needed I will get PCN if I can’t make contact. Also I tried to enter earlier but I drove out by mistake so I might even be charged for doing this!

Time left 16.29 parked in disabled bay.

Mr Mustard had tracked down the boss of NCP tube station car parks previously and although he declined Mr Mustard's invitation to meet he did at least sort out previous problems and so Mr Mustard emailed him and asked him to intervene. Within hours he had done so and very nicely too

Thank you for forwarding this to me. I have sent this to our notice processing team manager to make sure that no notice is issued.  Please do feel free to give the lady my direct contact number should you wish, as a direct contact here at NCP should she have any problems in the future.

I will send a further note as soon as I hear back from the team.

This is exactly how things should be. Mr Mustard must tell the lady that she doesn't need to give NCP money to park, she can get pretty close to the Spires by parking on yellow lines and displaying her badge or by using the council car park in Stapylton Rd for free or by parking in a residents bay but a pound to a penny she knows and made a positive choice to be where she was.

Her follow up message in response to the good news was this:

Thanks for the good news. If you meet the boss, you may wish to tell him the machines are “Unfair to Pensioners”!

The Spires ticket machine I used is in a low lit basement. When I arrived there were two other elderly OAP’s - a lady struggling and a gent trying to help her, unsuccessfully, as there were NO instructions  as to where to dial the hours required – this in Card Payment. The man was OK as he had coins. He tried to help us but couldn’t understand it. I managed to stop a car and got change for £5 to get a Cash Pay ticket.

I’d like the boss to know that the direction arrows on the ground sent me to an enclosed outdoor parking area, and more arrows sent me out of the car park altogether and I had to start again, getting lost in a one way street system!  What a struggle.

Best regards,

Dinosaur still driving.

Mr Mustard hasn't tried the machine as he only lives 100m away but it does look very involved and it shouldn't be harder to fathom out than a Bletchley Park decoding machine

NCP's decision was morally the correct one as they had lost nothing, parking having been paid for by a blue badge holder. They also saved themselves the time & bother of dealing with Mr Mustard's challenges & the cost of the adjudication. He would have arranged representation in any County Court case (as rare as hen's teeth by NCP) as he thought that any judge worth their salt would chuck the case out when an esteemed member of society had made a tiny error plus the publicity for NCP would have been awful.

Two good news stories in one week, what is the world coming to? Back to normal now though for Mr Mustard who is about off to berate Westminster for sending one PCN out of 3 for a car which had been sold, to the bailiff, who collected £483 when the council had cancelled the other 2 PCNs and knew the third one was not due from the person they were chasing.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard 

p.s. NCP might want to think about reducing their prices as the car park basement was almost empty this afternoon & the ground floor was pretty clear of cars as well. One fluorescent tube is flashing annoyingly, don't the staff notice such things?


26 June 2018

Haringey ticket times four, tow & then atone

is there a Haringey somewhere else?
This isn't the blog that Mr Mustard expected to write when he was asked to help a Haringey resident last week.

The facts:

You are a resident of Haringey.
You own a car.
You have a resident's permit.
Your park your car perfectly within a residents' bay.
You go on holiday for four weeks.
An emergency arises & the road needs digging up.
Haringey Council are obliged to give less than 24 hours of notice.
Your car receives 4 PCNs for being within a suspended bay.
Your car is uplifted and taken to the car pound.
It incurs a tow fee of £200 and a £40 a night storage charge.
You come back off holiday & make enquiries as to where your car is.
You contact the pound to find you owe £1,680 (more than your 20 year old car is worth).
You prove to the pound that you were out of the country.
They tell you to pay up and can then challenge at the tribunal to get your money back. (what Mr Mustard expected to write)
Haringey Council cancel all four PCNs and release the car from the pound without charge because they had to suspend at short notice. 

They would have made a note of all vehicles parked in the suspended section at the moment when the suspension signs were erected.

Mr Mustard compliments Haringey Council on having done the decent thing without any prompting from him. They have saved themselves the time of fighting the Appeals which Mr Mustard would have made to the tribunal and £120 in fees.

Mr Mustard marks them 9/10. He would have given them 10 if they had relocated the car within the same road but there may not have been room.

All enforcement authorities are meant to show common sense in such a situation so if your holiday parking plans go awry don't lose your temper at the pound, explain the situation, produce your travel documents and you might get a pleasant surprise.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

25 June 2018

Barnet Food Waste Collections – a dirty business - A joint blog by Mr Mustard & Mr Reasonable

In May 16 recycling was cheaper - it still is.


As is the way in Barnet, nothing is ever quite as it seems. On 5 June, just four weeks after the local elections, Barnet Conservatives voted to scrap the separate brown bin food waste collections on the basis that it would save £300,000 a year. A minor concession was suggested by Cllr Peter Zinkin that officers should identify how those residents who wish to continue to recycle their food waste could do so but with the rider that it should be at no extra cost to the council.

Both Mr M & Mr R thought this was a poor and illogical decision and decided to investigate further.
With follow up questions to the Director of Street Scene, the basis of the £300,000 saving was identified as follows:

“There are 12 front line blue bin and food collection rounds. Each of these round has one loader dedicated to collecting food waste, and two loaders to collect recycling. Stopping food collections will mean that 12 loaders will not be need for this purpose. The mid point cost of a loader including on costs for 2018/19 is £26,906. As such the savings on 12 loaders was calculated to be £322,870. The increase in disposal costs for food waste being transfer into the brown bin was £22,300.  We are not going to make staff  redundant those loaders who are no longer collecting food waste will instead be used as a pool of staff to fill in for staff on leave etc. rather than them being replaced by agency staff. This will reduce the recycling and waste agency spend”.

The key figure here is the increased disposal cost of food waste incineration which is quoted as £22,300. Now one thing Barnet Council fail to grasp is that Barnet Bloggers double check everything.

We had discussions with: 
  • the company that currently carries out the anaerobic digestion of Barnet’s food waste;
  • three other anaerobic digestion companies in North and East London;
  • London Energy (the company that runs the waste incinerator); and
  • the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) who manage all waste disposal for seven North London Boroughs including Barnet;
and a different  picture emerged.

According to many sources, food sent to anaerobic digestion has a much lower cost compared to being sent for incineration. NWLA confirmed what is termed “gate fees”, the charge for disposing of waste as follows: Waste sent for incineration £89.47 per tonne, food waste sent for anaerobic digestion £31.39 per tonne, a difference of £58.08 per tonne.

Barnet currently sends 5,000 tonnes of food waste annually to anaerobic digestion, so the increased cost of sending food waste for incineration is not £22,300 but in fact £290,400. On that basis removing brown bin collections will not save £300,000 per annum, it will instead save £32,470. What is worse is that as the borough grows and more food waste is incinerated, that modest saving could be eroded to a point where there is no saving at all.

So coming back to Cllr Zinkin’s offer, it is possible to recycle everyone’s food waste at a very modest cost compared to what officers are proposing, just £32,470 or around 23p per household per year. We think it’s worth it.

Yours frugally & reasonably

Mr Mustard & Mr Reasonably 

UPDATE FROM THE MAYOR OF LONDON


"The London Environment Strategy and the policies and proposals on waste and recycling have been developed following an unprecedented process of evidence gathering, analysis, stakeholder consultation and dialogue. Barnet did not respond during the public consultation on the issue of food waste collection, which was included in the waste policies and proposals. The waste policies represent a trajectory that is the best environmental and economic solution for the city and at the borough level. Londoners too expect and deserve a consistency of service provision across the city. The evidence points to the impacts that food waste collection has on driving higher rates of recycling across the board I am concerned about the impact on recycling performance from Barnet’s decision to stop separate household food collections. I do possess, through the GLA Act, the backstop power to direct authorities, where I consider it necessary for the purposes of implementing the municipal waste provisions of the London Environment Strategy.  Moreover, waste authorities have a duty under that Act to undertake their waste responsibilities in such a way as to be in general conformity with the strategy. However, the use of my power of direction is clearly an option of last resort, once all other avenues have been explored and exhausted.

On the 19th of June, I wrote to the Leader of Barnet Council expressing my deep concern at their decision and requesting that it is put on hold. This will enable my officers to now start the process required of us under the GLA Act.   See also answer to Mayor’s Question 2018/1583".

22 June 2018

Boycott the Beach

Mr Mustard noticed a fly posted poster advertising a 'Beach' at Brent Cross (let's put to one side the definition of a beach requiring the sea or a lake etc alongside) as he was passing through his local High Street the other day. This followed him having observed a number of them attached to the railings on the A41 when he was on his way to a Barnet Council committee meeting.

He went back and walked the High Street, EN5 from end to end and found lots more posters. Some iterations are probably there with the permission of the shop keeper but others clearly aren't, the ones on empty buildings.






adjacent to a closed shop so permission unlikely



adjacent to the closed pancake eaterie so no permission

After Office Hours - the building of one of Mr Mustard's twitter followers, he thinks





did Boots the Chemists really agree to this? probably not


Butchers Hook which has closed. Posters dropped in through the gap above the door

& then sellotaped in place - inside the window may technically not be fly posting?

at the top of Bells Hill, perhaps with permission


The garage opposite Ravenscroft Park
Some of those posters have doubtless been put up with permission of shopkeepers but not all by any means.

Think, shopkeepers. Is this a good idea? You may get a couple of freebie tickets to go to the Beach but will you even bother to use them?

Secondly, ask yourself, what is your shop window for? It is in order to advertise items that you sell, on which you hope to make a profit, and to attract customers to the store. Does this garish poster earn its keep in your shop window? No.

Thirdly, does this sort of scattergun approach to advertising an event which is nowhere near Barnet's High Street really make it a more attractive place to visit? We are on the cusp of watching TfL & Barnet Council lob £200,000k at your High Street to, supposedly, in the weasel words of some overpaid council puff writer, 'to create a safer and more pleasant environment for users' and a number of you are, swapping the chance to sit on a non beach near to a large shopping centre and the North Circular Road (pollution levels must be pretty high there) for the visual pollution which is Barnet High Street today. People aren't going to visit such a flea pit as Barnet High Street appears to be with all these posters everywhere, or if they do they sure as hell aren't going to come back. 

Perhaps it is time traders to start saying no to these inconveniences in your shop window and go back to basics and make your shop window great again. Make it novel, make it interesting, make it relevant.

If you want to go to the beach, please choose your favourite seaside resort & go there. Mr Mustard was in Cromer at the weekend, it is well worth a visit (Cromer Crab, lovely). This bogus beach at Brent Cross costs £3 to get in (access to the beach is free at Cromer, they have a lovely pier with a theatre on it & very reasonably priced beach huts for hire) but that isn't what the Brent Cross 'Beach' is really about. They want you to buy tokens for the adjacent funfair at £2 to £5 a ride, so the 'beach' is merely a sprat to catch a mackerel & you won't find either at Brent Cross, except smoked in Waitrose.

At a real seaside beach, you will find the sea & sand, places to eat and other things to do (Visit Cromer) not a not so cheap imitation.

Barnet Council are letting NSL do virtually what they like in enforcing environmental crime. That includes giving £400 fixed penalty notices to bona fide businesses who have not fly tipped but whose name has appeared on items left in the street, but not by them. 

Since July 2016 when a 6 month trial began (which doesn't seem to have come to an end) how many fly posting penalties have NSL managed to give out? By the end of April 18 it was 8, yes 8, not one of them in High Barnet and only 3 have been paid. NSL aren't tackling real problems like fly posting, they are concentrating their resources on easy money, as profit for NSL is their motivation.

If you thought they must be concentrating on dog fouling (not fouling of dogs but fouling by dogs which isn't cleared up by the owners) then you would be wrong. Just 4 Fixed Penalty Notices since July 16 despite the obvious problems of nasty deposits on pavments everywhere.

Will Barnet Council instruct NSL to issue fly-posting Fixed Penalty Notices at £400 a time to the 'Beach' organisers. Mr Mustard doubts it as they don't really care.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard
 

21 June 2018

The £3,000 blowout

Mr Mustard has been working very hard for 6 months on site but now he is back and has the time to do things like have an idle look through the previous freedom of information responses of Barnet Council. He came across this response:

Mr Mustard likes a good feed much like many people. The difference is that he does it at his own expense. He has spent 6 months on site so at the end he took the whole team out for a restaurant meal and paid the bill, he did not charge his client.

He thought almost £3k for a buffet was a bit excessive. Every single councillor could be treated at The Haven, on a Tuesday, and we would still have £1,500 in change (63 * £22 = £1,386).


The Greyhound in Greyhound Hill could probably provide a lovely buffet for £1,000 if a council officer were to ask them. Just think about it, £1,000 buys an awful lot of vol-au-vents, quiche, chicken drumsticks, sausage rolls, pizza slices etc. A thousand pounds at a time when the minimum wage is £7.83 an hour and catering workers are generally lowly paid and food in supermarkets is cheap.

Anyway, Mr Mustard tweeted that this was a saving worth having


At the least someone should look at what is being ordered and who provides it and see if there is scope for a saving. These are meant to be the days of austerity.

Slightly to Mr Mustard's surprise the local branch of the Conservative party defended the ridiculous spend:

When you are spending someone else's money it is easy to lose touch with reality. Mr Mustard though he would fact check this. Now the bloggers always used to pop around to The Greyhound for their refreshment after committee meetings and would find opposition councillors in there. No-one was on an expense account but were generous with buying each other drinks if their pocket so allowed. If meetings ran on until 10pm at night Mr Mustard was truly in need of a pint of Youngs after listening to dry council business for 3 hours. Mr Mustard thought that the meeting in question must have been extended beyond 10pm or even gone right up to 10.30pm


So Mr Mustard checked the time at which the May 18 meeting of full council ended. The answer, dear reader, was 8.27pm with the meeting having started at 7pm

from the council's own minutes
So a meeting which lasted 87 minutes is, in the eyes of the unknown tweeter of the BarnetTories twitter account, an account which he/she shouldn't be allowed to have any unsupervised input to, a 'particularly long meeting'


 Now what does 'particularly' mean? This


& 'long'?
Oh dearie dearie me, Mr Mustard finds that both definitions leave the tweet of the BarnetTories looking like a scrap of self serving nonsense, a smokescreen, an attempt to polish a turd (sorry about the phrase when eating is being considered).

So Mr Mustard thought he would go back to see if this 2018 investiture of the bling of mayoral office, as worn & tainted by a former mayor being found guilty of assault by beating (you would surely want a brand new chain of office after that?) took longer than in previous years? Here is the answer:

So whilst this meeting did take 7 minutes longer than the average for the last 7 years, it really in all honesty cannot be called a long meeting, as they take 3 or 3.5 hours, and it definitely can't be called particularly long as 2 meetings in the last 7 years took longer.

What really begs the question is why catering is even called for at all, for meetings that take an average of 1 hour and 20 minutes, when historic meeting lengths are recorded & available. Any self respecting Mayor would invite everyone round the pub and put some money behind the bar, or invite them round to his place, or the mayoral parlour, and get a couple of barrels and some wine in and crisps & peanuts and have a jolly old time without soaking the public purse for almost £3,000.

The mayoral knees up should be scrapped. He has a year of municipal functions ahead of him and his waistband will thank Mr Mustard for it at the end of the year.

In a time of austerity the Mayor also needs to tighten his belt.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

p.s. the identity of the writer of the tweet by @BarnetTories is unknown, Mr Mustard checked that it wasn't one of his own High Barnet councillors, David Longstaff, & it wasn't. Probably best that the writer remains anonymous to spare their blushes. The identity of Mr Mustard is public knowledge given his past appearances in the media.

20 June 2018

Exit packages - why so many for so long?

In any large organisation there will always be a few people who have to be 'let go' of for perfectly valid business reasons.  

If, however, there are c. 90 people leaving each year with a pay off, over a prolonged period of 6 years (& Mr Mustard did not look further back but expects the same sort of figures) then Mr Mustard thinks that something could well be wrong with recruitment, or management, or else the easy option is being taken as it isn't the council's money after all.

Of your hard earned pay, which you hand over to the council, a supposedly prudent organisation when it comes to the management of finance, £6,262,000 has been given to staff to just go home.

Perhaps the General Functions Committe might care to look at this area, or the Audit Committe, and sure as eggs is eggs, if they did so, exit packages would become less common.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Whilst researching head count Mr Mustard stumbled upon this Freedom of Information response about the numbers dismissed.

and also found a recent headcount figure of 1711 which gives us a 5% chance of picking up an exit package, a one in twenty chance, much better than roulette.

Bailiff not motivated by justice but by self interest

not the actual Fiesta, a much newer one.
Mr Mustard wrote about this last year but the problem has emerged once again, with 5 PCNs being issued this year. Given that both a lorry and a car are being sent paperwork about the same contravention we can't be sure that the Fiesta owner is getting all of the paperwork about a PCN. She regularly phones Dart Charge and they promise to put things right but they fail to. That was how a bailiff came to clamp her car last week.

The bailiff was shown one of the PCNs which contains this photo. 



Thus he knows that he has clamped a car which wasn't the vehicle that committed the contravention & he won't listen to any explanation about there clearly being an error in the system somewhere. His attitude was I've got a warrant with your name on it lady and I've clamped your car and the only way that will come off is you pay £429*. The debt which wasn't hers was duly paid, putting a single mum of two small children into overdraft.

The trouble with the bailiff remuneration system is that they only get paid when they collect so the incentive is there to extract payment whatever the circumstances (when clearly a error or a miscarriage of justice has occurred). 

The draconian powers of the bailiff should be exercised with a modicum of common sense. The bailiff may have the money for now but a complaint email is already in the inbox of the boss of Dart Charge with a demand for a refund and compensation. If a refund isn't forthcoming, a small claim will be issued in the County Court but Mr Mustard doubts that will be necessary.

There is no effective supervision or control of bailiffs by their employers, enforcement authorities, but there is no close daily oversight of their activities either. They both have too much power which sometimes gets misused & there is no inbuilt system for redress.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

* The balance tells the bailiff that the level of the debt is because a lorry failed to pay the £6 crossing fee to which is added £70, £35, £8, £75 & £235 = £429

For a car it would be £2.50 + as above = £425.50

Alarm bells should have been ringing in his head, but he wants that £310 for himself. Think of it as a short term loan Mr Bailiff, it will be going back with interest.

19 June 2018

Tinkering at the edges

yes, to all of the above alternatives + less traffic

Mr Mustard has met Derek Epstein in the past but begs to differ with him on this occasion and with the Barnet Society (who generally do good work in safeguarding the interests of High Barnet) and with the Barnet Residents Association (of which he is a member) but Mr Mustard is entitled to his viewpoint and he hates waste. This spending is profligate in the extreme.

The irony of the above opinion, is that it is in the window of a closed shop unit in the Spires, which seems to be suffering even more than the High Street with empty units despite having no traffic going through it whatsoever.


Anyway, here are Mr Mustard's comments and objection which he has sent to barnet.highst@barnet.gov.uk




You can make up your own mind & send any view to the council by 21 June 18.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

In case you don't have it, the Barnet Council & Re letter of 31 May 18.

 

15 June 2018

The Friday joke - 'We'

Barnet Council - who else?

Mr Mustard is helpless with laughter except that we pay people stupid salaries to write this sort of Orwellian language.

13 June 2018

Fiscal reality has not yet dawned at Barnet Council

That recent quote is to be contrasted with earlier statements in the press that the new West Stand would cost £20m. Inflation in building costs isn't rare as contractors seek to find extras which were not in the original specification.

So where will the money come from? Barnet Council of course.

At the recent Policy & Resources Committee an item to lend money (an unstated amount, it was in the secret papers as you, Mr & Mrs Council-tax-payer, are not entitled to know how your council tax is going to be thrown about) to Saracens for up to 30 years, was deferred to a future meeting.

Apparently it was going to be lent to them at 'commercial' rates' - commercial for Saracens or commercial for us? Mr Mustard hears you ask. 

Do Barnet Council have a good record when it comes to matters of banking? er, no.

A Labour Party press release, repeating a council officer (member of staff) email, showed that £1.13m in interest was lost. The council were without their deposited funds from 2008 to 2015 and flat rate interest for the seven years was 0.59%. In 2008 a saver could have obtained a decent interest rate from a High Street bank.

Investing in an Icelandic bank might have seemed like a good idea at the time but anything which seems to be too good to be true might well be.

Given that the finances of Rugby weren't, and probably still aren't, generally producing surpluses, you have to wonder about the wisdom of lending to that sector and how anyone can tell what will happen over the course of 30 years.

What is the purpose of a local authority? To provide local services.

What is the purpose of banks? To make loans.

Is this the only commercial loan that Barnet Council wish to make? as if it is, the situation stinks of preferential treatment.

Mr Mustard couldn't find any mention of making loans in the treasury strategy for 2018-19.

Have you got a loss making business within Barnet?
Do you need a massive loan?
Do you need long term finance, up to 30 years?
Send an email to cllr.r.cornelius@barnet.gov.uk and see what Richard says in response. He usually does reply to emails, Mr Mustard has found.

Yours frugally

Barnet Council

There has been trouble at t'mill in Coventry & Northampton and history should be taken account of, mind you everyone knew Capita's reputation and the council blundered blindly into a 10 year contract.

Update:
Mr Mustard meant to point out the irony of the long term loan to Saracens being listed on the same meeting at which the council's own serious budget pressures were being discussed. Perhaps that is why the item was deferred as clearly borrowing to lend doesn't really fit with the programme.