26 January 2019

St Johns Wood High Street - potential PCN refunds

This is where a contact of Mr Mustard's received a PCN here but the parking sign for this place was on the side of the hoarding. The sign isn't easy to find, given the number of other signs and also, by law, it has to face the carriageway. It is under the red light if you are struggling.

If you got a PCN in this bay, also when the sign was on the side, the City of Westminster will refund you, as they did my contact.

You don't see fairness like that very often.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

25 January 2019

Barnet motorists - hefty bills - are councillors really bothered?

a large bill if ever there was one
Mr Mustard read this story in the local Times newspaper


This snippet suggests that ruling councillors aren't bothered enough about air quality

What they are usually bothered about, in Mr Mustard's experience, is balancing the budget, which always includes a hefty contribution from the Special Parking Account i.e. from drivers.

Here is some procurement activity that they voted in favour of at a meeting of the Policy & Resources committee in December 18 at which councillors Cohen & Zinkin were both present

They plan to spend far more on implementing money raising levies than on air quality.

You have been warned. Best start the uprising now before they get too far into your wallet or purse & make the ULEZ look like chicken feed.

You can contact Dean here cllr.d.cohen@barnet.gov.uk 

& Peter here cllr.p.zinkin@barnet.gov.uk

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


24 January 2019

There may be trouble ahead

Mr Mustard receives a pension from the London Stock Exchange. It is only a modest sum, not even enough to keep him in red wine, but he still likes to receive it in the correct sum and on time. Today in his post he received a long letter which offered him no comfort whatsoever. Here are some snippets:

Oh dear. Mercer never put a foot wrong so why change them to a notorious supplier?

Mr Mustard doubts that there will be faster response times from a company who had to negotiate a KPI of 20 seconds to answer the phone up to 60 seconds which they still couldn't manage on behalf of Barnet Council. 

So why did you choose Capita? Were they cheaper and did they promise the earth?

 Someone will regret writing this puff piece later on.

We have immediately taken a retrograde service step. Why wasn't this in the contract to be in place from day 1 if Capita are so wonderful?

Translation: We are easily impressed and don't read newspapers or Private Eye.

Mr Mustard confidently expects the change of tax office to be less than smooth.

He will be checking his payslips very carefully.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

21 January 2019

Barnet Council found to be unreasonable

In this bay Mr Mustard's client was given a PCN for not having a permit. The bay had no sign so was, as every bay must have some sort of signage (it might be adequate to have words painted on the road for a 24 hour doctor's bay) so the bay was a free bay.

Mr Mustard took over at the tribunal stage and the PCN was cancelled. Mr Mustard thought that the council's behaviour was wholly unreasonable such that costs should be paid but such awards are very rare and he didn't prevail in his application.

Still, Barnet Council are unreasonable, just not quite unreasonable enough to have to pay any money out, which would have gone to the hospice in any event.

Time the law was changed to make compensation automatic for council errors. They pounce on yours gleefully, the playing field needs a bit of levelling up.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

15 January 2019

Ealing Council issue a permit for a non-existent car

Mr Mustard's client accidentally used the letter 'O' instead of the number '0' when applying for a residents permit. Ealing Council issued it with a letter O where the number zero should have been. When the traffic warden wandered down the street he did not find a permit with the exactly matching registration and so issued a PCN. Unsurprisingly the resident challenged the PCN as O&0 look pretty similar unless you are a typeface buff and then you know the letter is round and the number is oval. The council rejected the challenge but didn't point out the incorrect permit issue.

At this juncture Mr Mustard was consulted, he guessed the problem, got his client to talk to Ealing Council permit department and hey presto one cancelled PCN and the client told to correct the permit entry (why the council couldn't do it is a mystery).

Given that if Mr Mustard wants a part for his car or to park it using PayByPhone or RingGo he enters his registration number and gets told the make, model, age, emissions etc etc of his car, he doesn't see why the council can't check to make sure they are issuing a permit to an actual car in existence. Thus, he has written to Ealing Council as below.

What do you think readers? Ealing Council will agree and amend their systems or reply saying the onus is on the motorist to get it right, completely forgetting that it is their onus to check the paperwork and not issue permits to vehicles that don't exist?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

10 January 2019

Irony alert - Barnet Council failing to issue PCNs when demanded.

Paragraph 8 is correct in the context of this decision (Mr Mustard expects but the location is unknown) but adds the caveat that you can't park across your dropped kerb during the operational hours if you are inside a CPZ and there is a single yellow across the drop. You have been warned.

Paragraph 17 is amusing. Here is part of a case Mr Mustard is handling at the tribunal next week.

In this case the council issued a PCN without a request from the occupier and won't back off (although Mr Mustard has emailed the parking manager so that attitude may change very suddenly). The Highway Code is merely guidance and is incomplete advice. In England we hold a Driving Licence not License (grrr).

The tribunal have previously told Barnet Council not to say the CEO is a credible witness. That is a matter that the adjudicator will decide.

What is incredible is Barnet's attitude to the motorist, getting them to produce a letter from their sister which might be as convincing as a note from your mum to the school that you were sick yesterday, when you were skiving and wrote the note yourself.

Paragraph 20 doesn't say that the council charge you to have a white line painted.

Paragraph 21 is the one which will kill the PCN at the tribunal. Given the behaviour of the council in resisting the Appeal it looks like Mr Mustard will be making his first claim of 2019 for costs on the grounds of their wholly unreasonable behaviour. He only made one such claim in 2018 but council performance has steadily gone off in 2018.

There is a better solution for the council than making residents phone up for enforcement. Have an app developed. then residents can sit at home, press a button, send a photo if they wish, and have the request pinged to the hand held equipment of the nearest CEO. Mr Mustard doesn't defend people who park across the dropped kerb of others without permission.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

8 January 2019

Lewisham Council - automated stupidity

The scene is set, above. Note that the no entry signs are set a metre or two back from the give way lines. It was, in the adjudicator's view, when the Traffic Management Order is read, ok to drive up the road towards the camera and then reverse (the van in the picture is a handy illustration of the point near which the motorist in this case changed direction from forwards to reverse) as the prohibition is on driving along Giffin Street, which is to your left and right, and turning away from the camera into Frankham Street.

Here is the decision on the Appeal and on costs.

There is an unhealthy amount of automation in the world of moving traffic PCNs. this is because council's wouldn't make any money if they employed real people instead. This leads to an unhealthy reliance on computerised decision making which Lewisham have been brought to book over.

Additional points on which the adjudicator could have found for the motorist are that the PCN did not accurately describe the alleged contravention. 'Failing to comply with a no entry sign is a contravention but it was there in support of a prohibition on 'causing a vehicle to enter Frankham Street from Giffin Street' so the contravention as alleged had not taken place.

The council said about the PCN that it 'cannot be withdrawn' which is a pack of lies. The council can cancel what they issue, for any reason, even if they accept that there was a contravention.

Councils are always keen to warn motorists that false statements can lead to a Court fine of £5,000. Lewisham have got off lightly in this case.

The adjudicator boots out of the window the idea that costs should not be awarded because the motorist could have had his case heard on the papers. One of the good things about the tribunal (unlike outside London at the TPT nowadays) is that the motorist gets the chance to put their evidence in person and the adjudicator gets the chance to ask all the questions they need to in order to refine the arguments & fact find. Lewisham are lucky that the adjudicator did not order them to turn up to argue their case, a power which he opted not to exercise.

Mr Mustard finds all the time that enforcement authorities bend or misrepresent the evidence to suit their position, they often answer a different point to the one argued in order to try and negate the argument. They will say things like 'the  PCN was properly issued' which it was, when the real argument is about the facts of the parking which led to the issue of the PCN.

Before a PCN is issued a human being is meant to check the cctv to check that a contravention did occur. Mr Mustard is fond of parking up for 10 seconds in the middle of an empty yellow box at midnight to make sure the cctv verifier is awake and doing their job properly and not just ticking yes to a PCN. However, in this case, he thinks that a checker would be so mean that they would issue a PCN to anyone who went a metre past the back of the no entry signs and then reversed, which is not the reason why the signs were installed, taking a purposive approach.

We'll see if Lewisham learn. If they don't things could go badly for them.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

For experts; decision 2180445409

Barnet Council - Grants - April to Dec 18

Mr Mustard was looking for something else in the datasets but thought this list of grants by Barnet Council, for April to December 18 was worth bringing to your attention, due to the fact that there have been so few grants for an organisation which has a planned spend for the year of £982,328,000

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

7 January 2019

Weasel words in private parking - UK CPM

Mr Mustard doesn't generally touch private parking charge notices but when the motorist concerned is a blue badge holder and beleaguered by other health problems he does what he can to help, in this case by writing the challenge and then the Appeal to the IAS who will reject it as a matter of routine.

The driver in question accidentally strayed off the public highway onto a property frontage. The parking attendant was there, on site. Permission was asked of the attendant to park, he granted it. The driver then left and the devious attendant noted down the necessary details and took photographs in order to send a Notice to Keeper. What a snake.

The words above are from the (scant) evidence sent by CPM to the IAS. Never has the use of the word 'unfortunately' been imbued with so little of its real meaning.

The next paragraph of the evidence discloses the raison d'etre behind private parking 'management'. there is no management at all. The only reason the parking attendant is there is to collect the evidence in order to issue parking charge notices. Only one snag, the sign on site:

The motorist was unsure so did seek further advice from CPM's representative and then parked with permission. Whilst the IAS will brush such an inconvenient fact aside, a district judge won't, they will weigh up the evidence and decide if they prefer that of the motorist or of the parking attendant. The sign will speak for itself.

Probably best to never trust a private parking attendant.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard