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


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

21 October 2019

Amazing coincidence

When your PCN reaches the tribunal Barnet Council often put into evidence (at item C) their processing notes. The notes can be revealing as to the thinking which goes on.

In this case two different back office workers put the same notes, displaying an identical choice of words, on the same file a week apart.

Anyone would think that there is a set of ready typed rejection notes to try and make out that deep thought has been given to the representations rather than a standard formulaic rejection.

Of course there wasn't a permit on display. The motorist had just parked and popped to a nearby property to obtain a visitor parking voucher. The council are rejecting the representations because the permit/voucher was not on display from the very first second of parking. Mr Mustard is sure that he has previously written about the preposterous attitude of the council in this matter and he will keep on doing do until some common sense is bashed into the back office and/or management.

Civil Enforcement Officers don't ensure anything except that a whole load of PCNs will be issued by them every day. Permits are no longer displayed as 99% of them are now electronic records.

No-one was arguing that the Owner wasn't liable (if anyone is).

Saying that a permit was being obtained isn't mitigation, it is a direct challenge to the legitimate issue of the PCN.

Mr Mustard hadn't seen this attitude from Barnet Council for a while and now he has two similar cases in both of which the observation time by the traffic warden was zero minutes.

Do not pay if you were genuinely obtaining a Visitor Voucher but ask Mr Mustard for help (mrmustard@zoho.com)

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

19 October 2019

Barnet Council break the law?

There are two possibly major problems with this PCN.

The first is that it is (probably) an illegal demand for money as moving traffic contraventions are subject to the rules set out in the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003 which includes this limitation

Time to serve is extended if the council requested the keeper details from the DVLA within 14 days of the alleged contravention (that is usually automated) and the DVLA did not supply them 28 days of the alleged contravention.

The second problem, which the council cannot easily swerve the effects of, is that they have sent a Regulation 10 (drive away) PCN instead of a moving traffic PCN.

Please check your postal PCNs for such errors. If the council make an error, just as you may have done by stopping within the yellow box, the council don't get to put their greedy hand into your wallet or purse.

Mr Mustard loves a good council blunder and despite coming up to 10 years of pointing out to the council their mistakes, they just keep on occurring.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

17 October 2019

Fixation Theatre

This company were at the Grange Big Local and Mr Mustard offered to blog their flyer, so here you go. Fun for 3-18 year olds.

9 October 2019

Blind to the facts

It is usually a good idea to stay off the pavement, especially a nice newly laid one, even if you know the council don't enforce at this location. The PCN in this case, was for partially dropping the driveway entrance, being 'adjacent to a footway lowered to meet the level of the carriageway' in parking legal speak. The thing is, the driver had permission to be there so should not have been given a PCN.

This is the informal challenge (the first challenge of a possible three, the one made in response to a PCN placed on the car) which was sent in to Barnet Council.

Amazing how the council, via their agents NSL, can send back a response which deals with points not made and omits the ones which were made.

What does Mr Mustard have to say about this response?
  • They haven't carefully considered anything.
  • Here is the relevant part of the 2003 Act which the council rely on:
  • The council have ignored the request for proof that enforcement was requested by the householder - as they don't have it?
  • The Act does not include any (as in all) dropped footways, only certain ones.
  • Rule 243 does not say what the council says it does, it is specific to wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Rule 243 is also only guidance not the law.
  • The motorist did not say they 'were unaware parking in this manner was not permitted' - someone is too fond of cut-and-paste.
  • There is no tactile paving at the location - an error of fact renders unsafe the decision to reject the informal challenge.
  • The dropped kerb is for vehicular access, not a safe crossing point, as this is what is opposite the driveway

It is the council (NSL?) who are blind to logic, reason and the facts. Anyone would think they rejected informal challenges in the hope that the innocent motorist will give in and pay up as many do but not if Mr Mustard is fighting your corner you won't.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

In their first contact with Mr Mustard the motorist said they were going to pay the PCN, they had a conspiracy theory that the council was after them, not so, they are after everyone equally as their budget hole is enormous.

Having done one of his periodical PCN checks Mr Mustard has found that this one has now been cancelled. A wise move Barnet Council.