30 September 2019

A week in the life of Mr Mustard

There is of course no comparison with Mr Mustard's somewhat comfortable life but most of his stories start with a picture and this is what he thought of. Mr Mustard will pick up the classic when he next sees it in a charity shop as he ought to read more but he doesn't have much free time and you are about to see why.

Do bear in mind that Mr Mustard has a full time job as a credit consultant / debt collector although he will often go work / PCN / work / PCN / work in order to have a bit of variety and keep up with both.

Here follows a list of the parking ticket related tasks he carried out last week:


Make formal representations against a Notice to Owner.
Provide advice on a private parking ticket - pointed towards the PePiPoo web forum.
Gave preliminary advice on 3 PCNs for a hire car whilst the resident's car was being repaired - the council were of no help in even mentioning a dispensation for such an event.
Rotherhithe tunnel - gave advice about a PCN for driving a VW Caddy through - yes it does breach the 2T commercial vehicle limit but the location is over signed.
Exiting a one way street in reverse due to a construction vehicle blocking it. Advised to phone the police next time who will either clear the obstruction or give authority to drive the wrong way. Had already lost at the tribunal - advised to pay up.
Gave advice on fighting a Notice to Keeper sent by ZZPS.
Provide advice on a private parking ticket received after a trip to LIDL - pointed towards the PePiPoo web forum.
Provide advice on a private parking ticket received after using a disabled bay - pointed towards the PePiPoo web forum.
Send authority to act letter out for signing.


Still in bed - receive and study a whatsapp message and two emails containing an informal rejection about a council PCN. Send advice to await the Notice to Owner.
Check all of yesterday's tribunal decisions and read any for Barnet.
Study a Notice of Rejection, find a flaw within the PCN, the location is not where the car was parked, send advice to start a tribunal Appeal and then do so once authorised.
Send whatsapp message to a motorist to phone the council to obtain a Notice of Appeal form so that the Appeal to the tribunal can be made in writing.
Receive an email from a delighted motorist that her PCN has been cancelled.
Wrote a blog post.
Exchange a few direct messages on twitter with a lady who now lives at the address of a man who is deceased and who is being bothered by a bailiff.
Answer a councillor's direct messages on twitter about a special permit blue badge bay outside the house of a centenarian so that she can help them the next morning (this was at 10:30pm).
Check a Notice to Owner is in the correct name as its issue was spotted and formal representations were made on line whilst it was still in the post.


Check all of yesterday's tribunal decisions and read any for Barnet.
Make the formal representations against the Rotherhithe Tunnel PCN now an authority letter is held.
Phone the tribunal as Mr Mustard only has one Appeal listed at 2pm and he has no evidence. Having checked the council website which has been set to zero he is pretty sure that the council have thrown in the towel but he does not want to disrespect the tribunal. They check and call back to say the Appeal will be allowed for lack of evidence.
Sent a letter to ZZPS that the Keeper will not be naming the Driver.
Consider a Notice of Rejection, recommend an Appeal to the Tribunal.
Complete form N180 for a court case that is being defended for a friend.
Consider a Notice of Rejection, recommend an Appeal to the Tribunal.


Check all of yesterday's tribunal decisions and read any for Barnet. Find that the council have given up on two PCNs. Email the two motorists concerned.
Start an Appeal.
Receive a Notice of Rejection by email and send it on to the motorist with advice to go to Appeal.
Check the status of 8 PCNs.
Email a motorist to see why his balance is now zero.
Email another person to tell them their PCN is now cancelled.
Start a tribunal Appeal on line.
Check for evidence on four upcoming tribunal hearings. Email one of the people concerned to tell them a charge certificate has been issued, that it is an error and they should therefore win for that alone.
Post some advice on the PepIpPoo forum about a PCN issued 3 minutes into a changed restriction in Hampstead High St.
Email yet another person to tell them their PCN is now cancelled.


Check all of yesterday's tribunal decisions and read any for Barnet.
Receive 3 emails containing various documents for 3 PCNs, save the images, sort all of it into order, make an informal challenge, verify one PCN reference and advise to wait for the next document on two of the PCNs.
Check the status of 23 PCNs.
Email a motorist to tell them to look out for their Notice to Owner.
Email information about why an early charge certificate is so naughty.


Check all of yesterday's tribunal decisions and read any for Barnet.
Write an extra ground of Appeal that the charge certificate was premature, upload to the tribunal and send a copy to the council.
Visit the vehicle hire company where Mr Mustard provides advice and deals with anything tough.
Check the status of the upcoming tribunal cases and find the council has given up on one of them. Tell the motorist.
Look at two PCNs he had missed when he was sent three at once. Make formal representations for one of them. Gave advice to await the Notice to Owner for the other one. 
Look at a Camden PCN and advise the motorist to make their own challenge on line as Mr Mustard's name won't help.
Look at a bus lane PCN, provide advice and write a blog about it.
Check 10 PCNs and find that one has been paid.


Check all of yesterday's tribunal decisions and read any for Barnet.
Look at a Regulation 10 PCN received in the post. Find an error within it. Advise the motorist.
Write a Review request for an Appeal that he lost outside London, where he never seems to fare as well, and sent it to the motorist to check.
Write a blog post.
Checked seven PCNs and find a charge certificate has been sent.

Mr Mustard is only fighting half as many PCNs as he was doing 2 years ago when he nearly lost control due to sheer pressure of work and parking. He hopes you understand why he tries to limit his help to those who need it the most

- the elderly and not so up with things 
- the physically or mentally disabled
- the poverty stricken
- council blunders

He hopes you have enjoyed this little insight into his world and will understand that whilst he always tries to respond quickly it isn't always possible.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard 

29 September 2019

POFA or not POFA

POFA is the often used shorthand for Schedule 4 The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. That law was introduced at the same time as clamping on private land was outlawed and gives a landowner (via their chosen parking management company) the right to demand payment from the registered keeper of the vehicle if certain conditions are met.

Mr Mustard doesn't routinely help people with private parking charges but does advise some friends who have a vehicle hire business and receive about 100 tickets (council and private) a week and does a few others just for the practice and the fun of it. Mr Mustard is happy appearing at the tribunal which runs very efficiently to a 30 minute timetable per ticket but can't spend his life sitting around at various county courts waiting to get in front of a district judge. He is though perfectly capable of dealing with a case on the papers and parking companies are usually happy to fight that way as it saves them paying a fee to the legal representative who would otherwise have to be in court.

Here is a Parking Charge Notice to Registered Keeper which a private individual sent on to Mr Mustard and asked for help with.

sorry the edges are cut off but they aren't needed
The rule set by POFA is that if the first document is a Notice to Keeper sent by post, it has to be in the hands of the Registered Keeper by the 14th day after the day of parking, so if the parking was on Friday 1st January, by Friday 15th January. In the above case Mr Mustard noted that the Notice was not posted until the day after the 14 day period has ended and thus would have arrived 2 or 3 days after the period had ended. That would give the Keeper a good defence to a POFA based claim. However, by the wording of the Notice, Mr Mustard came to the conclusion that All Parking Services were relying on a contract having been formed by the driver by the presence of signs, then applying to DVLA for keeper details under the basis of reasonable cause (which Mr Mustard doesn't think is reasonable as the parking company has no idea if the Keeper was the Driver on the day) and then sending what looks like a POFA compliant Notice to Keeper but isn't, it is simply a subtly worded letter inviting the Keeper to admit who the Driver was. This is a bad idea as often the Keeper will incriminate themselves as the Driver and they have the right not to (don't try this with a police speeding ticket, tell them the truth, as the law obliges the keeper to name the driver).

Mr Mustard sent a letter in this case to ZZPS who do all the chasing on behalf of All Parking Services (their details got cut off the bottom of the letter when scanned) which said the following

Your Notice is out of time for good service under the Protection of Freedoms Act and there is no other legislation which requires the Keeper to pay your 'PCN' (a term which a private parking operator should not use as it is liable to be confused with a council document) nor is there any legislative reason why the Keeper 'should' give you the details of the driver on the day in question.

The Keeper is not going to name the Driver and you have no evidence as to who it was.

That letter was only sent this week so Mr Mustard can't tell you the response as yet. He will later.

At the weekend, Mr Mustard popped down to see his friends at the vehicle hire company and asked them if they had any demands from the PCN Admin Centre as they shouldn't release details of the hirer unless obliged to by POFA. He was given this one:

You can see straightaway that there is more content in this Notice to Keeper/Hirer and this is for a site where a ticket was put on the vehicle on the day. The Notice isn't perfect but that isn't the reason for this blog, the reason is to make you stop and think and decide at the beginning if you should be naming the driver or not.

You can easily find a copy of POFA on the internet. Schedule 4 is fairly short.
Paragraph 8 sets out the rules for a Notice to Keeper after a Notice to Driver was issued. That cannot be served until 29 days after the parking event.
Paragraph 9 sets out the rules for a Notice to Keeper when nothing was served on the day. That has to arrive within the 14 days starting the day after the parking event.

Get your analysis correct at the beginning and you will avoid a whole heap of trouble.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

28 September 2019

Bus lane breakdown

Just when Mr Mustard thinks he must have seen the full spectrum of council effrontery along comes another outrageously wrong PCN to try and fill the budgetary needs of Barnet Council.

In the above shot the blue Honda at the bottom of the picture is stationary and there isn't a driver within the car.

The black car heading down the screen towards it now has two choices. 

The first is to move to the 'wrong' side of the road and overtake the Honda when it is safe to do so. This may be some time given that we are on the A5.

The second is to cut into the bus lane for a short distance, very short given that a check on google street view shows that the bus lane ends where the solid white line ends so any incursion could be said to be de minimis (too trivial for the law to concern itself with) and undertake the Honda.

Clearly the Audi chose the safer undertaking route. One would think that the council or NSL person who reviewed the cctv footage in this case would have used their common sense when watching a Honda that didn't move at all and not authorised the issue of a PCN. The person who looked at the cctv did not use their common sense, they duly sent a PCN.

The motorist concerned made a challenge fully expecting the existence of a stationary car to excuse their short incursion into the bus lane. They were wrong. Their challenge was turned down and the letter rejecting the challenge doesn't mention the broken down car at all, it simply says you can't be present in the bus lane for any distance at all.

Barnet Council wonder why they are unpopular. Mr Mustard knows why as does every right thinking and fair minded person.

Mr Mustard will be seeing you at the tribunal Barnet Council. This PCN won't put a dent in his 86% success rate.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update 1 October 19: The PCN has been cancelled and a full apology sent for 'any inconvenience this matter may have caused' - Mr Mustard thinks that quite a lot of inconvenience was caused. Flowers, a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, all three, or £65 (50% of the PCN value) would not have gone amiss.

27 September 2019

Heading towards a computer monopoly

If you have a Formal Notice of Rejection of Representations (you having challenged a postal PCN or a Notice to Owner or an Enforcement Notice for an alleged bus lane contravention) from Barnet Council it will now contain the above section. Not all that long ago you were sent the Appeal Form with the Notice of Rejection but not any longer. Although it is the case that many people use the on line service to start their tribunal appeal not everyone is au fait with computers and the elderly or disabled are less likely to use them. You now have to phone up for a manual form, and your 28 days start to expire. Mr Mustard thinks that the move towards forcing everyone to do everything on line is a retrograde step. There should be choice which includes using the Royal Mail.

What Mr Mustard would like you to do is to start phoning for an Appeal Form (even if you plan to use the on line system) as he wants to test how efficient it is. When you phone up you might get voicemail so just leave a message. If you get a person, give them your PCN reference and car registration and they should send a form to you the same day. Please let Mr Mustard know afterwards how long it took for the form to reach you.

Whilst we are discussing Notices of Rejection if yours does not offer the discount for paying you would be giving money away for possibly nothing if you meekly pay up at this stage. Far better to send a copy to mrmustard@zoho.com and Mr Mustard will start your Appeal on line and be your representative at the tribunal hearing (he goes there often!) as you have nothing to lose. The proviso is that if Mr Mustard saves the day for you, you will send at least £25 to the North London Hospice (if you are poor you don't have to do the donating part, you could give time as a volunteer if you have it or goods to sell if you are having a clear-out).

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Greenacre Walks - The Queen's Highway - 13 October

24 September 2019

Love - an apology

A lady made the mistake of parking on the grass verge where a few other cars had done the same. It wasn't a place that had previously known for being enforced but things can change. She paid the PCN at 50% but came to Mr Mustard as she was unhappy with how she, and her female colleagues, had been spoken to by the traffic warden ('CEO').

The complaint set out what had transpired that day in the words of the lady concerned.

When I was told there was an Enforcement Officer outside I quickly went out to talk to him. He had already put a ticket on my car and was in the process of issuing another on a different car. I asked him why I had been given a ticket and he replied, “You can’t park here, love.” I asked why I couldn’t park there and he just repeated, “You can’t park here, love.” I asked him but to call me “love” and could he answer my question. He then replied with something along the lines of, “Sorry darling, you can’t park here,” with a patronising emphasis on “darling”. I asked him again to not call me that and said, “If we can’t park here then where are the signs to say we can’t?” He said, “There doesn’t need to be signs, love. You can’t park here.”

At this point he was obviously doing this on purpose as he could see it was winding me up. A couple of other women there were now also telling him to stop using sexist language. He asked how he was being sexist and was laughing. He was obviously antagonising us and, by now as more people were arriving for work, was enjoying the show he was putting on.

A colleague told him he was being rude and sexist and he just laughed. He said in an extremely patronising and condescending way, “Well, what would you like me to call you then?” She said that Madam and Sir would be a more appropriate way to address people and he replied, “Well, MADAM, you can’t park here.” He then waved to everyone and walked up the road laughing.

I have never met such an arrogant, condescending little man as this before. But, what I don’t quite understand, is that I was told there was an Audi parked amongst the cars in that area but he didn’t put a ticket on it. A colleague (who’s ticket is one of the ones sent) told me that he skipped it, ticketed the other cars and then let the Audi driver drive off.

Mr Mustard then added in the terms of the complaint, as follows:

In summary, the traffic warden was rude, patronising, sexist, arrogant, unhelpful, partial, condescending, antagonistic, unprofessional and behaved in a way that is detrimental to the council's image. He is completely unsuited to his job.

An apology has now been received, although it took two reminders to get one:

Your complaint has been forwarded to me for reply, as I am one of the officers responsible for monitoring the parking enforcement contractor, NSL Ltd. I apologise for the delay in replying to you.

After reading your letter I requested a statement from CEO BT*** regarding his conversation with you.  In his statement he explained that he uses the word “love” daily and up until the incident nobody had been offended (as far as he was aware). He thought he was being polite. Since then, he has not used the word “love” whilst carrying out his duties, as he is now aware that it could be offensive or seen to be sexist. (Part of the problem is that the public don't complain enough so the council don't know what language is sued by traffic wardens. You rarely see a council officer shadowing a traffic warden as the provision of the service, and hence the supervision, is left to NSL)
He has apologised for his behaviour and explained he did not intend to be rude, patronising, sexist, arrogant, unhelpful, partial, condescending, antagonistic, or unprofessional.

I have spoken to the contract manager at NSL Ltd, as they employ the CEOs. I have advised him to remind all the CEOs that as front-line representatives of the Council we expect them to treat all motorists with courtesy whilst in pursuant of their duties.  We also expect motorists to treat them the same. BT*** has also been spoken to separately and reminded of his obligations. (The motorists involved were courteous despite the testing time and there is no need for this line in the apology as it is irrelevant. Having outsourced the service does not outsource the responsibility for council traffic wardens to NSL, the extra management layer does not excuse the council).

In relation to the Audi, BT*** explained that the vehicle “moved straight away” so he was not able to enforce it. (This is a pack of lies as the location was a cul-de-sac and the traffic warden had to walk past the Audi to ticket two other cars as a cursory inspection of the council's own evidence would have shown).

I’m sorry that you have found cause to complain. Please be rest assured that if a CEO has behaved inappropriately, we take it seriously and the CEO is dealt with accordingly.

Always good to get an apology. Any more complaints about that particular traffic warden, are not going to help him, he will simply have to be more polite in future. Please, if you are unhappy with how you are spoken to, send your complaint to parking.clientteam@barnet.gov.uk Make sure you also challenge the PCN which has to be to the email address on the PCN, or use the on line system, or write to the Sheffield PO Box (where the scanner sits).

It is easy for traffic wardens, just call people Sir or Madam.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

21 September 2019

Sign your rights away

Here is the side of view of some recent parking, the most left hand end is where the car which was given a PCN was parked. This is Golders Green Crescent.

From the end of the bay, this is the view of the sign; what sign? It has been engulfed by foliage. You can see how a motorist might have parked thinking there wasn't a restriction.

Now, from google street view, the scene, and you can see another bay to the right with a clear sign.

The hedge hadn't swallowed the sign at that point.

How can a traffic warden give out a PCN in such a situation? Sometimes by bending back the foliage and then taking a photograph. Not this time though, the sign is clear as a bell.

How can that be? Simple, the traffic warden photographed the sign from the next bay along and the white house is the clue in the background. Mr Mustard can hear you thinking; you are thinking that the sign for each bay can be different and you are correct, the sign within a bay applies to that bay alone.

Thus the traffic warden has been either a cheat or indiligent. It is helpful though as the traffic warden had to walk past the sign for the bay in which the car was parked to get to the one they photographed, well that excuses the motorist not seeing the proper, but hidden, sign.

Mr Mustard doesn't like injustice so he has filed a complaint. Let's see how long this PCN lives for. It would be fair to give the motorist £55 for this mistake, the same sum as they would have had to pay if the sign had been visible and they missed it.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update: 24 September 2019. The motorist has received a letter cancelling the PCN.

19 September 2019

Lack of logic

The guidance booklet is not a statement of the law
The is set out above. A motorist, let's call them Frank, parks with their blue badge on a one hour single yellow line. Provided that loading is not prohibited, notified by yellow marks across the kerb and a sign plate with times (except when there are two marks together which means 24 hours) a motorist can park for up to 3 hours on a single yellow line. The reason for the clock, or disc as it is properly known, is to enable a passing traffic warden to know when you parked in order to establish if you had been there for more than 3 hours. The clock has no function if the yellow line only operates for a single hour, that is very simple logic.

Along came a traffic warden, keen as anything to issue a PCN and duly did so because the clock, which wasn't needed, was set to the wrong time. That was mistake number 1.

Frank challenged, expecting logic to take over. It didn't and the above is part of the response received. That was mistake number 2 by Barnet Council.

Frank wasn't happy so off to his MP he went. The MP duly passed the query on to Barnet Council and clearly doesn't have much logic themselves, and meekly accepted the council's assurance that the council were correct and Frank was in the wrong. Here is part of the response.

A senior officer, one would expect, looks at queries from MPs. Well if they were senior they weren't much cop as they too got it wrong. Ironically the Statutory Instrument they quoted gave the correct answer about the situation. What a pity they didn't read it. Mistake number 3. 

At this point Frank contacted Mr Mustard who thought that the answers were not logical and so he carried out some research to confirm his thinking.

It doesn't help that the booklet you get with your blue badge overstates the law although it is safer to put your clock out every time you park so that you get in the bait and so that a zealously wrong traffic warden doesn't make you one of his victims

Mr Mustard wrote to the parking manager and all of a sudden some proper thought was applied to the situation. To save time Mr Mustard sent the manager the relevant section of the statutory instrument

To precis for you the above regulations say that you don't need a parking clock for restrictions which do not exceed 3 hours. It took two weeks but then the PCN was cancelled and a brief apology was given. No flowers, no chocolates, no bottle of wine though.

Frank was relieved and grateful and will, on Mr Mustard's advice, display their clock every time they park even though they don't need to.

Now you blue badge holders know and so you won't meekly pay up if any council makes the same mistake as Barnet did. Simply email mrmustard@zoho.com for free help.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

11 September 2019

Ealing Council - data hoarders

Monster storage
Mr Mustard has the useful habit of keeping an eye on every PCN which he has touched which is still, as far as he knows, live in a council's eyes. This can lead to him checking a PCN every 2 weeks for 3 years or more, and surprised though you may be at the thought, moribund PCNs do suddenly take on a new life sometimes. Recently Harrow Council, for example, suddenly having woken up sleeping PCNs from 2016 which they should have written off and started sending out Orders For Recovery, preparatory to instructing a bailiff. Pretty tough if you had moved 18 months ago, as being clamped will be the first thing you know.

Delay in processing a PCN should be fatal to a council's case if you can get it to the tribunal as this recent decision shows.

Mr Mustard has some 2016 PCNs from Ealing Council which he has been keeping an eye on. They had been to a bailiff whose behaviour towards a blue badge holder Mr Mustard had complained about. It is a rare council that does anything with a PCN after the bailiff has failed and having done nothing since 2017 Ealing Council should have at the least set the balance to zero, as they had abandoned chasing, or actually deleted the data in accordance with their stated policy. Mr Mustard thought he would find out how much old data they were keeping. Here is what he found out.

That is an awful lot of data and Mr Mustard cannot see that it is proportionate or necessary so he has challenged Ealing Council as below:

Let's see what sort of response arrives.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

10 September 2019

Traffic wardens not trained in blue badge abuse / fraud

Mr Mustard is fighting a PCN, and he has just started a case at the tribunal, where, the driver says, the traffic warden confiscated the blue badge because the holder, a juvenile, was not in the car. The motorist, his mum, says she was collecting him. Whilst Mr Mustard believes the motorist, he thought he would check the knowledge of the traffic warden and the training which enabled him to do his job properly. Thus, he asked Havering Council about the training of traffic wardens and was worried to receive this response:

Misuse of a blue badge is a fraud. Typical council semantics.

The removal of the badge caused extra difficulties for the young boy whose badge it was. Mr Mustard did get it returned pretty quickly by complaining to the Chief Executive of Havering who quickly delegated the task to a senior manager who arranged a same day interview of the driver, who was the holder's mother, and then gave the blue badge back to her, the driver on the day in question.

You can't blame the traffic warden for getting it wrong, as he hasn't been trained (although motorists are expected to digest without any error the Rights and Responsibilities guidance which runs to 34 pages) but he shouldn't be asked to exercise the powers of a blue badge fraud investigator (and make no mistake as soon as a badge is seized it is assumed that you are guilty) nor should he confiscate a badge, without being fully trained. It would be better if a traffic warden merely reported the suspicion of fraud to the blue badge investigation team.

Mr Mustard has further concerns about the traffic warden. This is part of his written report.

If it wasn't such a serious situation Mr Mustard would be smiling as he thinks of Allo Allo:
for "I was pissing by the door, and I thought I would drip in"
we have 'I was petroling on St Nicholas Avenue'
but this is no time for humour.

The other point Mr Mustard notes is that the traffic warden, who pulled up alongside the parked car which was on double yellows, asked the driver to move on before looking in the windscreen, where the blue badge was to be found. That speaks volumes about the attitude of traffic wardens. Anybody on a double yellow must be wrongly parked and yet tens of thousands of motorists in greater London have blue badges and the right to park for 3 hours on a double yellow (except where loading is banned, identified by yellow marks across the kerb).

The blue badge has been returned, then renewed just a month after the incident without any hesitation, no proceedings have been commenced or even threatened, but yet Havering Council want to force the motorist to the tribunal. The motorist won't have to attend, Mr Mustard will handle it. Will the council fight the tribunal Appeal or will they wisely throw in the towel and file a 'do not contest' form. Time will tell and Mr Mustard will let you know.

Mr Mustard is of course wondering which other London local authorities have untrained traffic wardens going about confiscating badges in an ignorant fashion. Best smarten your act up parking managers before Mr Mustard starts asking questions.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard