27 July 2018

Mr Mustard needs PCN management software, could you write it?

Although Mr Mustard tried to cut down on his PCN workload, due to the advent of proper work, new problems keep arising which he feels he has to help with and he is currently considering taking on a project fighting PCNs commercially (1,000 PCN p.a.) for which he would need some computer software in order to efficiently manage the volume.

Whilst apps on a mobile are the favoured tool of many Mr Mustard thinks that cloud based software for use on a personal computer is the place for him to start so that professional lay representatives, commercial clients and the public at large could have the tools at their disposal to manage one or multiple PCNs, to stick to deadlines, to write to or email councils and to have the process laid out for them so that PCNs don't become payable by default.

Computer programming isn't one of Mr Mustard's skills but it might be one of yours? Mr Mustard thinks that there is a commercial market for this software, on a pay per PCN basis, and is prepared to invest in it. If you could help, or know someone who could help, whether an individual who codes for fun or a commercial outfit, please email mrmustard@zoho.com

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

26 July 2018

Exmouth Market, a cabbie, a disabled passenger & a £130 PCN.

Here is a tribunal report in which the adjudicator stretched his application of the law to breaking point to cancel the PCN & good on him.

Rather than just letting one PCN go by the board Islington Council wanted their pound of flesh from the cabbie, a Mr Stephen Bullock. Mr Mustard usually anonymises the names of the affected parties but they are public anyway in the register of the tribunal and he thinks Mr Bullock is such a kind man that his name should be known. You haven't made the world a better place Islington Council, you have written out an unhelpful Traffic Management Order and should consider the due adjustment required under the Equality Act for the disabled. How are they to get to destinations within Exmouth Market if they can't walk more than a short distance? The same goes for many pedestrian zones.

The decision was reviewed by a different adjudicator and had to be overturned. The adjudicator could have recommended to Islington Council that they didn't collect the penalty even having won but as they had asked for a review of the decision the fact of their cold heart was already evident.

The cost of being kind for the cabbie was £130.

Don't you want to sit down with the people who decide if a parking ticket should be cancelled or not with some people in wheelchairs and get them to justify their decision making sometimes?

There are standard exemptions that can be added to the sign for blue badge holders, taxis and for access. Islington Council need to look at this again but they appear to prefer the income.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

15 July 2018

Worstminster / Bestminster

Mr Mustard decided to start at the end of the story, with the good news, and go backwards. Marston were not greatly at fault in this matter, they were given a warrant which was tainted by incompetence. Mr Mustard does not think that even had they even-handedly considered the DVLA letter that the vehicle had been sold prior to the contravention and referred it to the City of Westminster that there would have been any change of position. Coming back from your holiday in the early hours and then getting clamped at 7am wasn't the best start to the post holiday period. Unfortunately Mr Mustard's advice to garage the car was not heeded.

The bare facts of this matter are that a car was given away and there was a delay in registering the transfer at DVLA. For a few months after his lucky gift the new owner of the car ran amok all over London. Every PCN but one was cancelled for the prior owner. Mr Mustard cobbled the facts together and sent an epistle to the newly appointed Head of Parking at City of Westminster.

So we end up with a lady having her new car clamped because the bailiff had assets under control but the bailiff has ended up with nothing. It would be better if bailiffs, when offered a plausible reason why the warrant might be wrong, would take instructions from their client and put the matter on hold. The problem is that because bailiffs are remunerated solely on success they are likely to ignore the obvious error and extract their pound of flesh. They end up giving it back with interest which is a waste of their time and causes reputational damage.

The City of Westminster though are to be complimented on having seriously considered Mr Mustard's epistle, which was something of a missile, and accepted their failings and made a decent compensation payment. Mr Mustard wishes the new parking manager all the best. Many other managers could learn from her example.

Remember, we all make mistakes, how you deal with them is what really counts.

If you are selling, or disposing of, a vehicle, make sure you register the change of ownership with DVLA as if the new owner doesn't, you may pay the price.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

12 July 2018

School zig zags - don't stop there

East Barnet School
Mr Mustard was consulted by a motorist who had been caught on the school keep clear markings as he stopped on them briefly in order to reverse past them into a parking space, the car in question is the one to the right of the word 'clear'.

In order to move from forward motion to reverse it is necessary to stop for a short while during which time you have to change gear and the laws of physics require that you are stationary for an instant. The computer decided the lack of motion should be considered for a PCN and a human being pressed the button to confirm the computer selection. How much time they spent thinking about this we do not know.

The contravention on school keep clear markings is of 'stopping' and a millisecond may well be long enough to make out a contravention but context is key. In this case Mr Mustard did not think a penalty was deserved and so he wrote to the parking manager:

In this case 'T' stops fleetingly in order to reverse into a space which would otherwise not be accessible. To my mind he doesn't deserve to be sent a PCN because this was a trivial period of stopping for good reason, although presumably a team member thought he did & technically yes he did stop.

I was wondering if you might think the same? If so, please cancel the PCN & save us all from extra paperwork.

It turned out that the manager did agree and the PCN was cancelled accordingly:

This is sensible as there wasn't any intent to do anything dangerous which would endanger the life of a child and none are in the picture that early afternoon.

Notwithstanding that Mr Mustard has put this PCN to bed he suggests you don't park in this way but go up the road past the zig zags, turn around where safe and then return and enter the parking space head on such that you don't have to stop on the entrance markings.

Mr Mustard has seen a PCN lost at the tribunal because the motorist pulled up on the zig zags in order to execute a 3 point turn. Mr Mustard agrees with that decision. Outside a school is not the place to be turning around.

The other problem he sees is when the keep clear zig zag lines are placed outside fire and ambulance stations. Those probably won't have a time plate as they apply 24 hours a day. He saw a PCN lost at Hartley Close around the corner from Mill Hill Fire station for this reason.

One further problem he has seen is when you have to stop on or alongside the keep clear markings because the road is only wide enough to let one car through and you obligingly waited for the other car. If you have your dash cam running that recording will help you overturn a PCN for stopping, as it was to avoid an accident, which amounts to an exemption.

Mr Mustard hopes that his advice keeps you out of trouble.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

8 July 2018

Syrian Kitchen - Saturday 14th July (at Cafe Buzz)

Mr Mustard can't, sadly, make the above event but you could.

Have a good feed & help refugee women at one and the same time.

Here is the link so you can reserve your seats and see photos of the sort of fabulous food you will be served.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

6 July 2018

City of London caught out and agree to pay costs

Mr Mustard read the above before he had seen the Appeal decision. His first thoughts were that it was refreshing to see the City of London accepting it had made mistakes and would improve their service. He was also pleased that they did not fight the costs claim which was in any sense a flea bite to the City.

Then he read the Appeal & he was less happy but hey what a time to be a security guard and have or leave a cctv camera trained on your car.

How unlucky for the City. What poor records they keep. How many people get caught by their late posting of suspension notices? Ironic that the suspension for filming was itself filmed.

Now you can't always have your car parked outside your place of work with a camera trained upon it.

What can you do? Well if you have a satnav with a fitted camera, or a pure crash cam, then you have cctv evidence yourself of the state of the signage upon arrival at your destination.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

p.s. The PCN in this case was for £130 which would take Mr S a few minutes over 13 hours to earn (gross before tax and National Insurance). Penalty charges affect the lower paid members of society quite brutally. They really need to be lower.

5 July 2018

The apology of the year - by Dart Charge

Regular readers, both of you, lol, will remember the story about the bailiff who put his own self interest before justice and Mr Mustard finished the blog post by saying the payment would turn out to be a loan and so it came to pass.

Mr Mustard's alter ego has made a few lash ups in his time and crafts, even though he says so himself, a fine apology. Well Dart Charge have been superb, they have studied Mr Mustard's complaint and taken it to heart, made a handsome apology, resolved to do better in the future and made a generous compensation payment. There is nothing else you could ask for except the impossible of not making the error in the first place. This is why often Mr Mustard goes to the top of an organisation when there are process errors which management need to fix. Are you reading this Westminster Council, as you received a 3 page missive yesterday, did you not, also about your importunate & unfortunate use of a bailiff.

Marvellous, a technical solution which should be foolproof. A recognition that any recent crossing might slip through but will be swiftly dealt with and direct contact details to assist - the inability to talk to people is one of the problems when automated systems go rogue.

Mr Mustard hopes that the disappointment is about the bailiff's actions as once your car has been clamped and you have to drive your kids to school some distance away you really don't have many options except paying up. Hopefully the bailiff will have to pay something towards the problem he created.

Another heartfelt apology here and a generous payment in compensation. The single mum had to go into overdraft to get the clamp removed so will have incurred some bank charges. Mr Mustard happened to open this apology when he was sat in the waiting area at London Tribunals, it warmed the cockles (he had just won 1 lost 2) of his heart as this was the first time in 5 years of asking that an enforcement authority has realised the damage that their blunders do and has realised it is right and proper to make amends by paying more than a token amount of financial compensation. Most authorities think is enough to cancel a PCN, which just isn't enough. The stress of a wrongful situation is enormous.

The lady in question was rather pleased with the outcome
Even though she lives on a very tight budget the lady in question offered Mr Mustard some money. He declined as he works pro bono (for free), and is fortunate to be comfortable, and he derives the most enormous pleasure from sorting out difficult problems. He merely asked that when she was clearing out clothes and toys which her children have grown out of that she donates them to a North London Hospice shop. Enfield or Winchmore Hill can expect a large delivery soon.

Gosh, the third good news story that Mr Mustard has written in the last month. His readers will both disappear if he carries on like that.

Seriously, Mr Mustard thinks that his years of bashing away at wrongdoing are starting to bear some fruit. Some parking managers go to the trouble of replying to him in minutes and out of hours and that is appreciated.

Only a fool ignores Mr Mustard.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

3 July 2018

TfL are a disgrace - in the nature of a guest blog

The facts:

I hope you're well. I'm afraid I have another query for you on behalf of my parents. I will try to keep the facts brief but can provide more detail if needed.

- parents have moved house, new owners called this week to say they have some post for them. Parents collected post to find 2 charge certificates from TfL for non payment of PCNs (congestion charge)
- new owners of house state that no previous correspondence has been received (i.e. The Pcns themselves or any reminders)
- charge certificates state payment required in 14 days (i.e. by 8 august) otherwise they will register it as a debt
- I believe a statutory declaration is required (or two) to say that parents did not receive PCNs?
- reason for not paying congestion charge is that vehicle is registered under blue badge discount for my grandmother however the email sent by TfL to ask whether that should be renewed was sent to my grandfather who sadly passed away last year. Therefore email account not checked and discount expired around march this year.
- parents did have a mail redirect initially but this had stopped by the time PCN issued. However new owners are in touch and would / should have told them if they had post
- my dad (registered keeper) did not update DVLA until recently, however he says (I am asking him to double check this) that when he called them (in July) to update his address they told him they already had new address. Not sure how this is possible but perhaps they obtained it via an alternative source..? 

Any chance of success with this do you think? Presume first would have to attempt statutory declaration then if successful, make representations? Out of interest, when log in to TfL site it still seems to allow us to make reps even though supposedly you cannot do this once charge certificate issued.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give us!

Although Mr Mustard wasn't managing the PCNs he keeps an eye on things. One PCN was settled and the other marched forward through the process to the bailiff. He enquired what had happened.

Thanks for your email. Yes - it was a complete nightmare for my parents as you can imagine. TfL are a disgrace - despite my parents sending in the relevant stat dec signed by a solicitor etc, TfL managed to lose it. My parents then got another statutory declaration signed and witnessed etc and followed up with the TEC who confirmed all received and sent to TfL, and that bailiffs would definitely be put on hold. Next thing they know, very unpleasant bailiff at door a few days later. My parents were already in the middle of a major family crisis so had no option but to pay full amount (it was a weekend and nobody from TfL or TEC available of course).  (2 swearing fees of c. £10 would have had to be paid)

My mum called tfl on the Monday and TfL actually admitted they had failed to correctly notify bailiffs and agreed to cancel ticket. Now my parents are waiting for refund - who knows if it will ever materialise.

Thank you for keeping track of this - I have to say that I despair at organisations like TfL and others whose disorganisation and ruthlessness causes innocent people an extraordinary amount of stress and upset.

Please keep up your good work in helping people to fight back!

The problem is that parking departments automate as much of the process as they can simply because of the volume they deal with. TfL issue around 500,000 PCNs each year. Thus the personal input which would stop most stupid process errors just isn't built into the system and that is wrong.

The parents are out of pocket, they are due an apology for the error in instructing the bailiffs and should be compensated for the worry but that simply doesn't happen.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard