17 December 2019

Leaves on the lines


There are a lot of leaves on the ground at the moment, Barnet being so rich in trees, and this can lead to people thinking they have parked where there aren't lines, when there are.

The same goes for snow.

What the public are entitled to is clear information as to where a restriction starts and ends and what it is. This can be conveyed, since 2016, by signs or lines or both (a different road surface can be used to demarcate a restricted area nowadays, with Camden making great use of this near the British Museum).

The above car received a PCN as he found the lines to not be clear enough but as Mr Mustard could clearly see a yellow line both in front and behind the car he suggested not going to the tribunal as he expected the motorist to lose. Adjudicators take different views on this question and it is one within their factual judgment. Here is one such decision which Mr Mustard thinks is a bit harsh, there is nothing in the law that says motorists have to carry a broom with them:


On the other hand, Mr Mustard has a decision in which the Adjudicator said that if the council want to enforce in the snow, they need to clear the roads first. Here it is:

should read 'not visible'


Snow may have melted away between the time when the car was parked and when the traffic warden came along later (although Mr Mustard thinks they should not be sent out in the snow and ice for their own personal safety).

There have been a few frosty mornings. Occasionally Mr Mustard's girlfriend, who lives outside of a cpz, forgets to obtain a visitor parking voucher from him to display in the windscreen and then suddenly remembers at about 9 on a Saturday morning, an hour after the zone has started. So far the luck has been on her side and she has not been ticketed. One morning Mr Mustard looked out of the loft room window at the cars parked in the street and noted that all the windscreens were frosted over. That isn't a problem for residents vouchers as they are now electronic but for cardboard scratch off visitor vouchers and blue badges, they won't be visible after a hard frost and the traffic warden isn't likely to clear your screen for you. Logic, reasonableness and common sense would be that they have to walk on but no, Mr Mustard will bet you a pound to a penny that he will soon be dealing with cars displaying a visitor voucher, that have a frosted windscreen and a PCN tucked under the wiper blade, if it can be prised off the glass.

In fact, here is one of Mr Mustard's successes from 2012

Now Mr Mustard believes in playing with a straight bat and telling the truth but if traffic wardens are to start going about giving out patently unfair tickets when they don't have the grounds to believe a contravention had occurred, as they can't see if there is a voucher on display or not, then he won't be surprised if residents start saying there was a visitor voucher on display when there wasn't, as the council will not be able to disprove that assertion. Sauce for the goose and all that.

Let's see if Mr Mustard's inbox sees any of this type of unfair PCN landing in it.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

3 December 2019

The Wrong Approach - now righted

A resident emailed Mr Mustard with the above PCN and told him that he wasn't in Approach Road when he parked but in The Approach. A feature of the latest PCN software that Barnet Council use is that they put a pin on a map to show roughly where the PCN was issued, like this:


Clearly the PCN is a nullity for want of an accurate statement of the contravention, the locus being a vital fact. A challenge was sent in saying that the vehicle was not parked (= not waiting) in Approach Road, New Barnet. Here is the relevant part of the response, a rejection of the challenge:


The response is wrong, not just a little wrong, but 100% wrong.


How can a council, or their contractors, NSL, get something so basic as the location so wrong. Approach Road is adjacent to New Barnet railway station.




The two roads are 6 miles apart. It is very hard to muddle them up if the slightest attention is paid.



Now the motorist is asking Mr Mustard if he should pay. Definitely not is the answer as the council have accused him of something which is simply not true. The motorist will now have to wait for the Notice to Owner, and has all of the worry of a PCN hanging over him for all that time, & if the car is leased that will mean an administration fee has to be paid, one that should not be necessary if the council and/or NSL did their job properly. There is no guarantee that the formal representations in response to the Notice to Owner will be considered any more carefully than the informal challenge was, or wasn't, and then an Appeal will be made to the tribunal. It is only at that point that an impartial view will be taken of the facts by a body that doesn't have a financial interest in rejecting perfectly good representations.

Mr Mustard thinks it is time for a change when it comes to how the surplus from road traffic related PCNs should be spent. Let councils cover their costs and all of the surplus after that should go to a central body to spend on something charitable. Councils would rapidly cut their activities back to the minimum and focus solely on the traffic management purposes which should be their primary goal, rather then generating surpluses to reduce their wider budgetary pressures.

We also need an independent oversight body who can investigate why some councils keep making errors in their own favour.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update 3 December 2019

The Notice to Owner was issued on 30 October to the garage whose car it was.

Mr Mustard challenged it on 12 November pointing out the road error, providing maps.

Barnet Council refused for a second time to cancel on 26 November.

On 28 November Mr Mustard started an Appeal to the tribunal.
On 3 December he checked the PCN balance and the PCN has, at long last, been cancelled.

What a waste of time and money.

Barnet Council have had to pay a c.£30 case fee to the tribunal. They were always going to lose the case. Why didn't they cancel earlier? Because many people give up even when they are in the right.

Mr Mustard never gives up.

20 November 2019

Barnet Council - Capita - data harvest reduced

Capita recently demanded that Mr Mustard prove he was still entitled to the single person discount and he had a choice of completing the form they sent him or going on line and completing a form, as above. Mr Mustard started by having a look at the on line form and decided that his telephone number and email address should not be compulsory information.

Mr Mustard complained to Barnet Council and they have half agreed with him.

I can advise that the email address is collected to provide automatic notification to the customer that their review has been submitted successfully. As part of this notification the customer is given a reference number that they can quote if they have any queries about us receiving the online form. We do not send any other response to the review.

I am satisfied that the collection of the email address is not excessive and that the collection of this information is necessary and relevant to the processing of form.

The telephone number is collected in case there is a need to contact the customer about their form, however I agree that this should be optional field as alternative contact details are available. In my view making both the email address and telephone number mandatory could be considered as unnecessary.

With that in mind I can confirm that the form is being redesigned, making the email address mandatory, and the telephone number optional. This will become live in the next three weeks.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Mr Mustard does not agree with the reasoning as they could simply provide a confirmation of receipt reference number on line. If they want to contact you they can write as it is a property that is the subject of the enquiry, it isn't going anywhere, or they can make an email address optional should you want to be contacted that way.

Mr Mustard sent his response in by post and the form does not say you must supply an email address and a telephone number, boxes which Mr Mustard would have put a dash in anyway. Did Capita send an acknowledgement that they had received his completed form, no they didn't so they only want to send one if it doesn't cost them anything.

Did they tell Mr Mustard the outcome of their review?
No, of course they didn't, as they only get paid when someone loses their single person discount, so they want to cut out all possible costs, even at the expense of providing a resident with the reassurance that all is well.

Rather than being left in the dark, Mr Mustard has now written to Capita to ask them to confirm the outcome of the review and to see the data on which they based their decision.

Mr Mustard is also now going to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner to see if they agree that the collection of an email address on line is not necessary, it should be optional.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

19 November 2019

Barnet - the renegade council

The above image is from the Highway Code which couldn't be clearer, you can stop to load/unload on double yellows (provided it isn't explicitly prohibited by lateral kerb marks) and you can drop off and pick up passengers.

The below is from the council's own Traffic Management Order i.e. the council enacted it:


So given both of the above why are Barnet Council rejecting representations based upon a complete lack of knowledge of both the Highway Code and their own rules? Could it be the money?

Anybody who pays up in response to the council's incorrect interpretation of the law has been conned out of £55.

If you have such a letter send a copy of the challenge you made and the council's response to Mr Mustard (mrmustard@zoho.com) as he is going to fire an email into the inbox of the parking manager and ask him to get the law applied properly. Mr Mustard can't be sure but the rejection letter was probably written by an employee of NSL Ltd who really ought to know the law by now.

Within 24 hours of Mr Mustard emailing the parking manager, the PCN is being cancelled, an apology sent and retraining is planned.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

18 November 2019

Capita - not at all helpful

A minor gripe is that Capita left part of the postcode off their address.

The rest of the letter isn't of much use either.

The 2018 statement was wrong so must be chucked away.
The 2019 statement didn't arrive.

What is the recipient to decide upon receipt of this letter? nothing, as there aren't any figures with it.

What should it have contained?

A statement as at the date of normal pension age (NPA).
A list of the possible options.
A request for your bank details so that the arrears can be paid asap.
A calculation of the compensation which will be paid to the pensioner for not paying them for up to 2 years.

The letter as it stands merely tells you they messed up and then wants the pensioner to make the running.

Mr Mustard's advice.
Don't phone them and don't write (unless you don't do email) you'll need to complete the post code, it is DL98 1AJ

Mr Mustard would email and ask for the information that you should have been given on the NPA (normal pension age) and for the relevant facts and figures and options. You want everything in writing, phone calls can lead to disputes.

Having right royally messed up Capita should be going the extra mile to provide information & compensation to the adversely affected parties, not putting the onus on them to phone up Capita. They should be offering the affected parties individual appointments at which Capita can demonstrate that they have now got the pension records correct and explain the options available in each case.

Mr Mustard really doesn't understand why councillors don't kick out Capita given that this is just one more example in a long list of administrative incompetence. They are truly awful and yet on we trot lurching from one dreadful story to the next.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

14 November 2019

A decade has flown by

What you see above is the PCN which led to the creation of Mr Mustard, the wrongful PCN although Mr Mustard didn't realise it at the time. Since then he has fought at least 1000 PCNs and his win rate per thousand is about 850.

Before you get agitated at the thought that Mr Mustard is the sort of person to park where he shouldn't, here is the sign that is adjacent to the bay.

The bay is only restricted during the week. Anyone can park in it at the weekend.

That PCN, BA66081914, is the most expensive PCN ever issued by Barnet Council not for the £100 they didn't get but for the 850 PCNs worth c. £100,000 that they failed to collect and the £12,000+ they have paid out in fees to the tribunal. Before November 2009 if Mr Mustard received a PCN, which he did now and then, he just paid it.

What does the next decade hold?
Probably another 1,000 PCNs personally fought by Mr Mustard.
Perhaps an academy to train up other residents with the necessary knowledge and skills?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

9 November 2019

Are Harrow Council deliberately incompetent?

Readers with good memories will recall that Mr Mustard wrote about Harrow being horrible at the start of 2018, the back story is here.

It might have been the case that Harrow Council just got a little bit behind and their slowness was a one off which they should then have fixed. Unfortunately that is not the case as twice this week Mr Mustard has been contacted by clients who hadn't heard from Harrow Council for a year and then suddenly they did. If his clients thought the PCNs were over due to council neglect they would be correct in principle but wrong in practice as Mr Mustard checks every PCN twice a month to make sure nothing gets away from him.

The case with the worse delay has the following timeline:

You can see that Harrow Council have been sat on their hands for 33 months.

The Order for Recovery was sent to the same address as the PCN. Luckily the recipient had not moved home. If you had moved home in 2018 would you notify the council of your change of address from 2016? No, I didn't think you would. Nor would you have a postal redirection for more than 12 months, most people probably only have 3 or 6 months of redirection given how so much documentation now arrives by email.

Mr Mustard recommends that if you have had a Harrow PCN in the last 5 years that you contact them and ask them for the number (give them your car registration and date of purchase) and ask them to tell you the current balance of every PCN ever issued since you bought the vehicle and if it is not zero, to tell you the dates of all the statutory documents they have issued.

If you have moved you could do this even if you don't think you have had a PCN as it may have gone to your old address. Mr Mustard also recommends leaving a note for the incoming resident with your new address, as he did recently for a house he sold and he left a few parking visitor vouchers to help them in their moving in period - they were very pleased and have already dropped a final utility bill letter through his door. (Another tip, he read the gas, electric & water meters hours before they moved in and left a note of them at the property to save the buyers the time of performing the same task.)

What happens next to a PCN, if you don't file a witness statement (or statutory declaration in moving traffic cases) is that a bailiff will be instructed. If the bailiff finds the car, and most people don't move far and bailiff vans have ANPR, is that it will be clamped. As all of the paperwork will have been sent to your old address and you haven't been served with at least one obligatory statutory document Mr Mustard does not think you have been properly served but it is you who has the problem, a wheel clamp on your vehicle, which you may need urgently, so you end up paying. This is grossly unfair.

In this way, by being incompetent, Harrow Council and their bailiffs profit at your expense. That is unjust.

Once Mr Mustard has the current PCN sorted out, he will file a complaint with the council and if they don't apologise he will go to the LGO. He will also complain to the Iinformation Commissioner as the council, having abandoned enforcement of the PCN by their failure to act expeditiously, they no longer have the right to process your data.

After writing this blog post Mr Mustard decided to look through decisions made at the tribunal in October 19 & he found this one:

Councils are meant to learn from the decisions of Adjudicators, Harrow haven't learnt a thing and are plouging ahead with PCNs which they know is prejudicial.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

8 November 2019

Mr Mustard made a mistake - so did others!


Mr Mustard's client parked in The Grove near Finchley Central tube station, on a Saturday. She told him she had parked this way for years. Mr Mustard looked at the council's evidence on line and the sign which the traffic warden photographed, thus:
Mr Mustard thought the reason that this sign had been missed was because it was around the corner in Nether Street and therefore not driven past by the motorist who had driven up from Mill Hill. There are Regulations which a council must follow about installing and maintaining signage

Is the sign which was photographed 'on or near the road'? Mr Mustard would say not as it is on a different road around the corner but an adjudicator might find it to be adequate. However, for 'persons' using the road probably kills it in favour of the motorist as you must have been able to see the sign when driving in the road in question and you cannot. 

Mr Mustard looked back through google street view history and there hasn't been a sign since street view started on that section of yellow line in Nether Street.

Here from google is a photograph of the sign in Nether Street, the cable tie in the traffic warden's photo still being in place after the removal of the sign it was previously securing and there is a strap across the 'H'.





Mr Mustard made the informal challenge (against the PCN). He kept it simple as ever and the 'y' is next to the 't' on the keyboard which turned his 'not' into 'noy' a word he quite likes



Needless to say, the informal challenge was rejected 10 days later


They rarely consider any informal challenge carefully, as will be proved.

Was the sign located on The Grove? If you look for yourselves on google street map, turning in from Nether Street at the tube station end, you will see the sign the traffic warden photographed on the right and then no sign at all on the single yellow line within The Grove. The council have lied, again, in order to try and persuade the motorist to cough up £55.

Here is the council's map of traffic restrictions and signs in The Grove. There is no icon to show a sign within The Grove on the black and orange line. You can see a sign icon in Nether Street but none on the black & orange line, where the car was parked, only on the differently restricted green line in Nether Street. The council, or their sub-contractors NSL, are terrible at lying.




There is guidance on signs and lines, known as Chapter 3 of the Traffic Signs Manual. It isn't law but the council must have due regard to its contents. It says this


No-one can argue with the fairness of para 13.1.12 - the driver could not readily establish the precise restriction.


There was not a sign within 15m of the northern end of the single yellow line in The Grove as there wasn't a sign within The Grove at all.
Ignore the kerb marks about loading as that was not prohibited. These are stock images. What you can see is a little transverse mark which shows where the restrictions change, as they do between The Grove and Nether St, the change is not marked by a line on the ground nor signs at the changeover point.

When Mr Mustard received the council's letter rejecting the challenge, he went back over the facts to check them. He decided to start with the council's own map based traffic order. At that moment he realised his error when he clicked on the point where the car was parked and the rules popped up on the page.


This shows that the times when you cannot park where the black and orange line is located at 2-3pm on Mondays to Fridays inclusive. Mr Mustard smiled as immediately he knew he would beat the PCN (previously he just expected to beat it). He was annoyed though as the council had told him something which he knew not to be true with the sole purpose of trying to extract revenue from his client (who turned out to know the situation better than he did!).

What are the rules if a yellow line is not signed on the spot? (and let's take it that a sign around the corner in the next street does not, in all fairness, apply) It is the cpz entry sign that sets the times.

Down at the lower part of Dollis Road, towards Mill Hill, the place the driver came from, is this sign


which sign confirms the Monday-Friday 2-3pm times when you cannot park on an otherwise unsigned single yellow line (bays may have different times).

Who got what wrong?

The traffic warden got wrong that the sign around the corner applies. 
They should have thought that the absence of a sign meant CPZ hours apply.

Mr Mustard got wrong not checking the TMO map for the rules.
He was wrong to rely on the traffic warden's photo of the sign.
He should have wondered why his client had parked there on so many previous Saturdays without being ticketed.

The Barnet Council back office (probably NSL in Dingwall) got wrong the fact of the existence of a sign in The Grove. They refer to 'the sign' which must be a reference to the one photographed within Nether Street.
They got wrong not looking at The Grove on google street view, if they had looked back through 10 year's worth of google street view images they would not have found a sign in The Grove.
They got wrong not checking the rules for the location in question in the council's own map of the parking rules.
They got wrong that if there was a sign in the Grove it would say: Mon-Fri, 2-3pm.

Next steps

Mr Mustard's assistance was not disclosed in the informal challenge. It will be now as he will make a second informal challenge. Councils always tell you that you cannot do that but Mr Mustard disagrees as the PCN says

'If we receive representations before a Notice to Owner is served, from any recipient of a Penalty Charge Notice, those representations will be considered'.

The motorist does not yet have a Notice to Owner so is entitled to expect the council to do what they promise.

Besides, a factual error has occurred and it is in everyone's interest to correct this error as soon as possible. The motorist should not have the PCN hanging over them for a moment longer than necessary.

Mr Mustard is sure the second informal representations will be considered more carefully, as they will be accompanied by a complaint to parking management, who are all far to wise as to tell an untruth to Mr Mustard.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update 17 December: Mr Mustard complained on 10 December to parking management and provided his analysis of what was wrong. Clearly management agreed as the PCN has now been cancelled today. There was not a word of apology in the cancellation letter but there was a warning that the outcome didn't set a precedent at that location, it is panto season, oh yes it does.

5 November 2019

Lying - Barnet Council policy or just ignorance?

Mr Mustard doesn't, as usual, know if a Barnet Council employee actually wrote the above Notice of Rejection or if an NSL employee did, although formal representations are meant to at the least be decided upon by an employee of the council.

The part that is not the truth is the statement that you cannot board or alight (on a double yellow line) where loading/unloading is banned (as notified by double marks across the kerb stones). It is true that no loading also means no blue badge parking but this wasn't such a case.

What the car owner told the council was that his wife who was driving and was collecting him and two small children left the car in order to help him because he has a disability. That is perfectly proper behaviour. The rules for loading or unloading are different to those for boarding or alighting.

The council set the rules for each section of road. This is what they say about boarding and alighting.


The passenger was disabled and therefore as long as necessary is allowed for the purpose of boarding.

How do Barnet Council not know about their own Traffic Management Order? They should have known, particularly in this case, as the formal representations included this huge clue

Needless to say an Appeal is now being made to the independent adjudicator at London Tribunals. Costs can be awarded in cases where the council has been wholly unreasonable. The bar is set very high but ignoring the exemption in your own traffic order may well be seen to be.

Thus in this case Mr Mustard comes to the conclusion that ignorance can be no excuse. It looks like a cynical and deliberate refusal to accept the obvious.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


 


30 October 2019

PCNs - due adjustment



Mr Mustard found the above decision on the LGO website which he takes a look at from time to time. He has previously been critical of the LGO for not having teeth but they have bared them to Southwark and the decision is of application to every PCN issuing enforcement authority within England.

The entire report is well worth reading in full but if you are short of time Mr Mustard draws your attention to the critical elements on page 11

Mr Mustard considers that the PCN should tell you that if you cannot write in for any reason that you can telephone in order to make your challenge. In Barnet he suggests that until such time as Barnet catch up with this decision you should telephone 0208 359 7446 explain your disability and say that you want to make a representation by telephone in line with the LGO's decision. If you get a refusal that may well ultimately be enough to get an adjudicator at London Tribunals to cancel the PCN although given the difficulties with challenging you may not get that far as you are unable to write, without help, within the deadlines.

Mr Mustard has previously tried to use a council's failure to offer due adjustment as a point of Appeal to an adjudicator but has been rebuffed on the grounds that written representations and the Appeal were done on time (which was only because Mr Mustard did them and he cannot help every single person) which is a Catch 22 response. If the person with the disability fails to write on time they get timed out of the process. If they get someone else to write for them (assuming they can get help) they have followed the system so all is well. The question of prejudice is irrelevant. The council must offer due adjustment to every motorist as they do not know when they issue a PCN if the motorist suffers from a disability or not.

You should add the failure to offer due adjustment to every challenge that you make regardless of whether or not you have one. This way the council may act sooner.

The LGO's decision is very pleasing. The government is forcing more of the population to do everything using the Internet which contradicts the Equality Act legislation hat they themselves made law. Perhaps this decision will tip the playing field back to a level status?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

29 October 2019

An abysmal rejection

It was dark and wet in the Golders Green Road, the motorist missed the wide yellow line which is a clue that you might be in a bus stop. An understandable error rewarded with a PCN for £110. A copy of the PCN was sent to Mr Mustard. Hold on he said, the PCN says you were stopped in Russell Gardens, so the PCN is a nullity for want of an accurate location. Make the challenge on line and tell the council you were not in Russell Gardens and when they see you are correct they must cancel (a fine theory). 

Here is the representation, as made:

Kindly note that the alleged parking contravention did not take place as the road stated on the ticket does not have any bus stops. 

You have already guessed what happened next, yes the council rejected the representation. Here it is.

The letter starts with an untruth 'we have considered carefully'.

Firstly many Barnet residents will already have said to themselves that there isn't a bus stop in Russell Gardens because buses do not go down that road.

The council (and most probably NSL staff in Dingwall who are the processing back office) could have looked at the longitude and latitude of the camera at the time that the pictures were taken. That would have provided the location very precisely. Clearly they didn't do so.

The member of staff could also have looked at their own publicly reviewable records which now most helpfully provide a dropped pin of the approximate location. Clearly they didn't do that either.

 They could also have looked at google maps for Russell Gardens
where the red pin is and noted the absence of bus stops (the blue bus symbol). Clearly that third opportunity to verify the accuracy of the challenge was not taken.

What did the council do?
They issued a rejection letter with a standard templated wording.

What didn't they do?
Actually consider whether there was a bus stop in Russell Gardens or not.

Luckily the motorist has Mr Mustard's knowledge, experience and determination to see the PCN out.
They will though now have to wait and worry for the Notice to Owner to arrive and then go through the challenge process for a second time with no guarantee that the council will look at the second challenge any more seriously than the first one.
They may also have to make an Appeal to London Tribunals to get this matter put to rest.

It is a shockingly abysmal state of affairs that the council, whether via their agents NSL or not, rejected a perfectly valid challenge.

It can't be their addiction to revenue can it that has blinded them to reason?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update 6 November 2019: Mr Mustard told parking senior management of the error and logic and common sense have now prevailed and the PCn has been cancelled.

28 October 2019

Consultations by government



The consultation process has a chequered history in Barnet and Mr Mustard thought you might find the above judgment of interest if you are looking at any consultation that Barnet Council decide upon in the future. It is a long read, there being 222 paragraphs, but Mr Mustard thinks you can skip some of it and he suggests you focus on paragraphs 3, 18, 27 and then read from 139 to the end but by all means read it all if you like this sort of thing.

The summary at para 27 is a good outline to have in your mind from the off.


Enjoy this bedtime reading. If you think Barnet Council have failed in any future consultation please consult a solicitor who is an expert in local government law.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

27 October 2019

Sainsbury's - North Finchley

Last week Mr Mustard's alter ego had to pay a cheque into a Lloyds bank account for his work. There is no longer a Lloyds bank in High Barnet. He chose therefore to use the North Finchley branch. He thought he would park in Sainsbury's, do the banking and do some shopping at the same time. He needed milk, light bulbs, napkins, loose tea and he would probably have picked up some other items (red wine, always red wine on his shopping list) as he walked around the store.  It used to be the case* that you could park and leave within 2 hours without any fuss. Not any longer. Now you have to faff about paying £2 and then getting it back in store.

Guess what happened next? Yes, as soon as he saw the payment signs Mr Mustard drove straight out of the car park and parked on the edge of the cpz for free, walked to the bank and back, the exercise having done him good, and he bought what he wanted at his local Waitrose once home. Regular shoppers are probably going to get bored with wasting 5 or 10 minutes of their life lending Sainsbury's £2 each week for an hour and some will start shop elsewhere.

What else did Mr Mustard notice on a Wednesday morning at 09:40?
There were fewer than a dozen cars in the Sainsbury's car park.
When sales drop and stay dropped expect things to change.

If you can't live without Sainsbury's you will find that the New Barnet store does not have this rigmarole and has the same two hours free parking limit. It also contains an Argos which is quite handy and was very efficient when Mr Mustard used it last weekend, it being on his route.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

* possibly longer ago than Mr Mustard recalls.

26 October 2019

Bins - as you were


Advance notice surely, not advanced?
One of the drivers for changing the bin rounds a year ago was to save money by getting rid of Saturday collections and thereby make a saving on overtime. Almost a year later the 'teething troubles' are still ongoing not helped by a collapsing depot. To reduce the pressure on the depot by having fewer vehicle movements each day Saturday working is being reintroduced on certain rounds.

This will, of course, lead to increased staff costs and the planned savings from the bonkers big bang changes of 4 November 2018 are yet to be achieved.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Barnet Council - serious breach of duty of full and frank disclosure to a Court



Mr Mustard draws your attention to the Important notice at the top of the written decision of Her Honour Judge Hilder. Mr Mustard does not know who the parties are and does not seek to know. If you know, tell no-one and don't publish any names or addresses. You could get in seriously hot water for contempt of court which carries the risk of an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

Mr Mustard has reproduced this decision which is public as it may help others to stand up to Barnet Council if they are not behaving as they should in any other legal matter.

The whole decision has been reproduced verbatim. Mr Mustard has carefully read it and notes the following points in particular, using the decision's paragraph numbers:

'the Applicant' = London Borough of Barnet

3 - the Applicant demonstrated a serious beach of the duty of full and frank disclosure 

(in contrast at the tribunal last week when the Adjudicator picked the dvd out of the evidence bag she found it was broken, as a number had been for Harrow Council recently. Rather than let her adjourn the hearing for another dvd to be supplied Mr Mustard volunteered his own copy even though it proved the contravention had occurred and he then lost).

8 - this application was 6 months late (Barnet Council's application)

11 - when we try to contact social service's (sic) about this we contact the office and we get no reply on ringing us back who looking after my son.

35 - Barnet Council are accused of 'a lack of insight, even with the benefit of hindsight' (ouch)

48 - the Applicant's scope of consultation argument is misconceived.

49 - the Applicant's subjective view argument is a fundamental misunderstanding of the duty of full and frank disclosure. If it were to be up to the Applicant to determine whether a view which differs from its own is valid and therefore to be brought to the attention of the court or not, the duty of disclosure would be neither full nor frank.

51 - I do not accept that JDO's placement ....in November 18, could reasonably have been considered by the Applicant as non-contentious.

52 - the review process is not a rubber-stamping exercise

53 - In my judgment, the information available to the Local Authority by November 2018 strongly indicates that there should have been doubt.

54 - In my judgment, it is not appropriate for the body with consultation obligations to 'present' OD with a pre-prepared statement.
In this matter it amounts to a breach of the duty of full and frank disclosure.

56 - However, having received a response which was not the Applicant's liking, the Applicant then failed to put the result of the consultation before the court fully or indeed at all.
Thereafter, the Applicant went to extraordinary lengths to seek to avoid the Official Solicitor's participation in proceedings, including apparently choosing an alternative solicitor for JDO.

57 - The very real consequence of the Applicant's approach was delay and a longer period of unauthorised deprivation of JDO's liberty.

Clearly this is a difficult matter but Barnet Council have fallen woefully short of the standard of behaviour required of a public body. Hopefully they will learn from this decision and change their ways by improving their consultation approach and fulfilling their duty of full and frank disclosure to the court.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

23 October 2019

Whistleblowing

Lots of things go on at the council which employees are not happy with. It could be damaging for their career to go to their line manager or higher if that is where the problem sits. Barnet's bloggers always like to know what is going on so you can send them paperwork in confidence knowing that the source will not be revealed. One way of stopping your identity from coming out is by using an anonymous email address which disappears without trace not long after you have used it so even Mr Mustard won't know who you are so cannot possibly reveal your identity.

Here is a possible provider of a temporary email address and lots more are available with an internet search but don't use the council computer to do this. Don't leave a trail either by sending yourself a spreadsheet or other computer document. A printout scanned off site would be safest.

Mr Mustard is equally happy to hear from any current or former employee of a supplier to the council such as Capita or NSL if there is skulduggery afoot.

Regular readers will remember this story, the £2million fraud, and a not all that quick follow up has revealed further problems, the full details of which are not yet in the public domain. This from a report going to the Audit Committee on 30 October.

If you know what has been going on do feel free to send an email to mrmustard@zoho.com
or you can post documents to him at 21 Carnarvon Rd, Barnet EN5 4LX

The council should not be allowed to sweep things under the carpet. They are spending our money.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard