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

1 comment:

  1. I have to say, I would not have been offended with the use of the word "love". It is a diminutive expresssion of perhaps too much familiarity. but very common, and not disrespectful in my opinion. I have also heard "m'duck" and others. What I do take exception to is not having any explanation of the contravention. If a CEO can issue tickets, he must know the law about them, surely ?
    (you're probably puzzled at my sympathy with the CEO !!)


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