29 April 2020

Waste collection still not right

Residents have been sending photographs to Mr Mustard of their bins. Things haven't yet settled down since the great bin rescheduling of 5 November 2018 (the cunning plans should have been put on the bonfire).

There have been management changes. Jamie Blake, the strategic Director for the Environment left after 4 years and 7 months to go to Newham. The council website says his replacement is Geoff Mee. The street scene director, responsible for implementing the bonkers reorganisation, Ms Kitran Eastman, left in September 19, and word which reached Mr Mustard was that she was dead against the plans which is impossible if others design and then force through the implementation of a duff idea, what is one to do? You end up carrying the can if you don't get out. The head of HR has also changed but Capita provide that so where is the surprise. Also mentioned in the June 18 report to the Environment Committee was the Head of Street Scene Service Support, Mr Richard Gilbert who also left, in his case in April 2020 and joined Barking & Dagenham Council. Goodness knows who else who was involved in the designing and implementing of the November 2018 changes who has left for pastures new where bin rounds run like clockwork.

The pandemic has put extra strain on the service as there are more home deliveries and thus more boxes to dispose of.

The council have suspended green waste collections so much of it is ending up at the bottom of the black bins under general waste and bin men don't therefore see it when they open the bin lid and into the lorry it goes. The blue recycling was weekly then fortnightly and then back to weekly again at during the fortnightly hiatus random lorries were roaming the streets causing confusion in the minds of the public. Guess where some residents' recycling ended up when the blue bins were fortnightly, yes in general waste.

Two years ago the green bins of most the borough used to be collected on a Saturday on overtime and Mr Mustard hears that the plan is to revert to that system as, wait for it, it worked.

Ten or a dozen new vehicles were purchased to support the November 18 reorganisation. They turned out to be too big for a number of Barnet's streets, the older ones which were built when the horse and cart was the dustman's transport of choice. Larger lorries were ordered as some genius thought that would reduce the number of trips to the tip but they proved to be impractical. More new dustcarts are coming in 2020, they will be the same larger size so equally limited.

The Oakleigh Park depot will soon approach its third birthday. The subsidence at this white elephant, for which the council overpaid by £millions, is spreading. You will note if you drive down there some buttressing on the pavement in Oakleigh Road South. 

Time banded collections were introduced in Mill Hill. That led to innocent people being given fixed penalty notices after the council themselves failed to stick to the collection times. Banded collections work in organised councils, we are talking about Barnet though.

Mr Mustard hears that the contents of recycling lorries are getting rejected at Hendon Tip because they are contaminated with food (food collection is paused but the waste has to go somewhere) green waste (partly thanks to the introduction of charging although collection is also now paused) and builders' rubbish as the Summers Lane Recycling Centre is closed as are many commercial tips.

So there we are 18 months after a reorganisation which was meant to save £1,200,000 a year. Needless to say it hasn't, with huge costs spent on agency staff, over 40 of them on some days. They have now all been stood down, Mr Mustard hopes we have sufficient permanent staff remaining especially as some must be off due to the virus and as they cannot self isolate in the cab. The bin lorry staff are doing their best, give them a friendly wave when you see them. Management's failings are not of their making.

What Mr Mustard suggests is we turn the clock back to the start of 2018 when, apart from the odd missed collection, everything worked and then consider changes, test them out one at once, implement them if they work and put them aside if they don't. The big bang approach led to a big mess, tinkering will not fix that.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

25 April 2020

Barnet Council cross the line

The registered keeper of the car with the doors open has been sent a PCN after stopping on the double yellows to board a child, this is an exemption provided you are reasonably quick about it. The PCN though isn't for being on the double yellows, as they cannot be enforced by cctv, but for being

As it happens 'restricted area' is not defined in legislation. What the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 say about the markings on the ground is this:

Note that the prohibition in para 2 refers to stopping 'on' the markings. For a long time Mr Mustard would win at the tribunal if the vehicle stopped in the middle of the road, not over the marking themselves. Then, on 2 August 2018, an adjudicator with decades of experience decided what would become a key case at the tribunal and thus a decision which his colleagues were very likely to follow (and it wasn't a decision that Mr Mustard disagreed with)

Thus it is clear that Adjudicators regard the school keep clear markings as applying to the centre of the road, the same as for single and double yellows.

Why, Mr Mustard hears you ask, was the car on the other side of the road sent a PCN? Automation is probably the answer. The school markings are monitored during the applicable hours by a cctv camera. It selects short bursts of footage which the computer decides is a contravention. Those clips are then watched, in theory, by a human being who has to decide if a contravention has occurred or not. It is perfectly possible that the operative charged with this task popped out for a fag, a cup of tea or a jimmy riddle whilst the clip was running and simply ticked the yes box to this being a contravention when he/she got back to their desk.

Mr Mustard will fire an email off to the parking manager whilst simultaneously making representations through the usual channels. He doubts this PCN will live for long.

Simple logic, if stopping on the double yellow is part of the restricted area so is the disabled bay the council have painted there.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

The PCN didn't live long once Mr Mustard emailed parking management directly.

That is a proper apology.

24 April 2020

Hammersmith & Fulham - pandemic parking enforcement

Mr Mustard is moving to Fulham. Not only have they answered the FOI fairly quickly, they have slacked off parking enforcement more than any other local authority in London and ... oh, musn't spoil the story.

Mr Mustard is sorry to see so many traffic wardens off sick.

Mr Mustard is delighted to see so many traffic wardens doing something else, H&F must be one of the few boroughs which still manages its parks properly. Social distancing in a densely populated borough such as H&F will really help to keep the numbers of infected people down, stats by borough here.

Now that is what you call cutting back. Codes 01 and 02 are single and double yellow lines, with and without loading restrictions.
Code 62 is parking on the footway.
Code 21 is a suspended bay.

Please also don't block anyone's drive (as you may get towed, Mr Mustard didn't ask about towing away as he didn't want to ask too many questions) park in a disabled bay or on crossing zig zags.

By far the safest borough in which to be a traffic warden. Note the use of bodycam in the parks.

Hammersmith and Fulham get Mr Mustard's star prize, this round of applause, as they have truly backed off enforcing and found other more useful duties for the wardens (Mr Mustard just hopes they have been properly trained and are using nudge theory to educate people to stay apart).

H&F have just shown up every other council in London when it comes to parking (TfL are to be praised as well for suspending the LEZ, ULEZ and congestion charge).

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Lambeth - pandemic parking enforcement

The absence rate is towards the top of the table.
Good to see the staff redeployed to Food shelters (food banks? it isn't clear).

This absolutely isn't an answer as it was up to each council whether to follow the guidance or not and set their own policies. London Councils is an umbrella body which cannot tell an enforcement authority when not to enforce. Mr Mustard asked for a proper answer (Mr Mustard had already read the guidance before he framed his question).

Doh, Mr Mustard failed to question the guidelines but never mind now. This probably means that PPE is not being issued to traffic wardens. If you see a traffic warden in Lambeth feel free to comment at the end of this post.

Update: Lambeth sent some further information which was to their credit:

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Croydon - pandemic parking enforcement

Croydon also managing to get a prompt response out - well done Croydon.

Another borough which has magically avoided sickness absence by traffic wardens.

A fairly common slackening of enforcement, not enforcing in residents bays or pay bays whether on street or in car parks. Barnet still charging in pay bays starting to look like a mean exception. It must be better to have cars in car parks rather than the High Streets in order to leave more room for delivery lorries.

More unprotected traffic wardens walking the streets getting or giving out the virus.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Sutton - pandemic parking enforcement

Well done Sutton for getting your answer out promptly.

That's good, zero traffic wardens off sick. An amazing variance from one local authority to another.

That clear as mud approach really isn't helpful, are you safe to leave your car or not?

Try not to become a 'persistent issue' whatever that is and you should be ok. Mr Mustard is completely lost about whether you should park on a yellow line(s) or not, the word 'essential' is not defined.

You do have to note that Sutton were quick to respond to lockdown even if they are giving out mixed messages. Overall they have slacked off parking enforcement pretty extensively whilst leaving the door open for themselves not to which is not entirely satisfactory.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


Barking & Dagenham - pandemic parking enforcement

Another borough which has managed to get the response out quite quickly.

Mr Mustard can't help but keep thinking that many councils are missing a trick in not redeploying staff to other duties that would be of more use in the current climate but if they outsource (no idea if B&D do or not) that takes time and negotiation.

A refreshingly clear answer, everything can still be enforced. Mr Mustard looked at the link, it is unclear.

A CPZ refers to the times of yellow lines usually being set by zone entry signs. Mr Mustard thinks that what the council mean is that you can park for 30 minutes in a residents bay without penalty rather than on a single yellow.

No gloves, no mask - forget the science, common sense would suggest these cannot do any harm.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

23 April 2020

Tower Hamlets - pandemic parking enforcement

Another council which has managed to get the FOI response out before the usual 20 days. Well done Tower Hamlets.

 More traffic wardens sick than in any other London council so far.

The contraventions which are not being enforced are for residents and pay bays, both on street and in car parks. You will not be ticketed for being parked outside of a bay or space but it is still good policy to not park that way.

The PPE may have been a response to the high sick rate.
Wiping down unique kit every day should prevent transmission of any bugs from one traffic warden to another (although Mr Mustard doesn't know the size of their base and thus whether they can social distance as they clock on and off).

Not ticketing for not paying will not cost the council much as there is hardly any traffic.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update from a local resident - 24 April

The Tower Hamlets CEO base is pretty cramped.

The CEOs are directly employed, so might be subject to a more paternalistic employment relationship than those with NSL, APCOA etc.

Yesterday I saw three CEOs walking line abreast with about 1-2 feet between them, so not particularly conscious of the need for social distancing.

22 April 2020

Bexley - pandemic parking enforcement

Bexley Council answered quickly but not fully and rather inconsistently.

Other boroughs with outsourced traffic wardens managed to answer these questions.
Bexley answered the PPE questions which related to the same outsourced employees so were inconsistent.
By the time they decide what other more useful duties the traffic wardens could be employed for, the pandemic will possibly be over, councils really aren't very nimble, especially when they have to negotiate with a third party to change anything.

Mr Mustard has asked for this question to be properly answered as the answer isn't clear although it appears to be the case that there isn't a contravention they won't issue a PCN for if they have the time and resources.

Scaled back isn't really helpful, either the council are enforcing or they aren't, they really should make their mind up and be clear. One man's dangerous or obstructive could be another's perfectly safe and reasonable, especially as traffic is about 5% of what it once was.

Pretty good on PPE, no surprise that masks cannot be found. In future planning scenarios this sort of equipment will be stored away in case of need, until it goes out of date or the pandemic is forgotten.

Bexley not really scaled back much but looking after their non-employees better than most.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

21 April 2020

Croydon - pandemic parking enforcement

Croydon have answered pretty quickly, 14 days, having warned Mr Mustard that they might be delayed in responding due to the pandemic so well done Croydon Council for that.

You know the questions by now.

That is good, not a single CEO (traffic warden) off sick. Perhaps they work from home or have a huge depot, or all work different times but whatever it was, something has stopped them from being sick.

'Supporting the police' usually amounts to them going into parks, telling people they should move on and then phoning the police to report loiterers and the police may or may not have the time at that moment to follow up the report.

So that is residents bays (there should be an apostrophe but it is never used on signs) which you are safe to park in and not paying to park in a car park (and perversely staying after the expiry of paid for time which you didn't need to pay for) and permit bays in car parks are free to use. If however you park for free outside of the bay marking a PCN is still possible, although whether traffic wardens will visit a car park Mr Mustard does not know. Always best to park neatly. Stay out of loading bays, doctors bays, disabled bays etc unless you qualify to use them. Stay off the pavement (except where marked) away from dropped kerbs and off yellow lines during their hours of operation.

No PPE. That really isn't good.
Clean assigned equipment should be the norm.

Overall, a reasonable relaxation of enforcement by Croydon, they'll still be able to issue loads of PCNs to the unwary.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

16 April 2020

Havering - pandemic parking enforcement

Firstly well done to Havering Council for getting their response out in a few days.

Being outside in all weathers; does that make people more or less likely to be off sick? Being a traffic warden is a stressful job so that could also be the reason for absence as could the virus but pointless asking given the lack of testing.

Just one traffic warden furloughed? Perhaps they were asked if they wanted to be?

When it came to question 4, the list of contraventions which are no longer being enforced, Mr Mustard was sent quite a list, but in a vertical format so he has had to type it out again.


4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 30, 31, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, 48, 49, 55, 56, 57

Off-street (i.e. car parks)

70, 71, 73, 74, 80, 82, 83, 84, 85, 90, 93, 94.

Which leaves the following (paraphrased descriptions) which are still available to be enforced and therefore probably are being:

On street

01/02 - Single and double yellow lines with or without loading bans.
25 - loading bays
27 - next to dropped kerbs (or raised roads i.e. up to pavement level where people may cross the road)
40 - blue badge bays
61/62 - parked on the footway
63 - parked with engine running
99 - stopped on a pedestrian crossing or zig-zags

In car parks

81 - parked in a restricted area
86 - nor parked correctly within the bay
87 - parked in a disabled bay without a blue badge
89 - exceeding maximum weight, height or length
91 - parked in an area not designated for that class of vehicle
95 - parked for the wrong purpose
96 - parked with engine running

All moving traffic and bus lane contraventions are still being enforced.

If in doubt face masks really ought to be provided but care home workers should be prioritised for them if they cannot be obtained and traffic wardens put on other duties without public contact?

Havering have gone far further in relaxing the parking enforcement regime than many other London local authorities. The residents bays are free to park in as are all pay bays. Well done.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

9 April 2020

Merton - Pandemic parking enforcement

Here we go then with the same FOI questions as you saw Ealing answer. First of all, full marks to Merton Council for such a prompt answer.

Merton only issue about half as many PCNs as Barnet so presumably have about half as many traffic wardens (CEOs). A pleasingly low sick absence level. Not pleasing that they have not transferred any traffic wardens onto other duties in these exceptional times.

Just the same as Ealing, with the notable exception of enforcement around schools, so almost business as usual.

A worrying lack, just as in Barnet, of personal protective equipment (PPE) for traffic wardens. Traffic wardens could have the virus, not know and transmit it via a PCN.

'School safety zones' are becoming more common although they don't exist in the Traffic signs manual, 2019 edition. They are marketing speak for sections of road which you can't drive down at certain times of day.

The website is misleading, as the Traffic Order says nothing about the restriction only operating in term time and Mr Mustard wouldn't know the term times for Merton if he was passing through. The sign below also doesn't say anything about operational dates. The council may not enforce outside term times but if so they should cover the signs over.

This is a sign from Frinton Road.

Rather oddly, if you enter between 9.30am and 2.45 pm you also mustn't stop on the yellow zig zag markings outside of the school as they restrict stopping from 8am to 5pm. A completely illogical arrangement (unless it has been changed since April 19 when the google car went down the road).

This sign, the 'flying motorbike' sign (and which means 'no motor vehicles' of any type including vans, buses, lorries etc) will have a delayed action in creating a safe space as in Mr Mustard's experience, borne out of talking to motorists who were just about to wrongly pass the same sign in Connell Crescent, Ealing, it is one of the least known signs in the Highway Code. Thus it takes many months for compliance and better safety to be established by the blunt instrument of receiving a PCN in the post during which time the council wrings its hands in sorrow, wonders why their scheme isn't working effectively and coincidentally pockets tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds from PCNs. A council which implements a scheme which they know from other boroughs' statistics won't work instantly and fully is morally repugnant.

Anyway, regardless of how effective the sign is, Merton are, perfectly properly, not enforcing these signs during lockdown, and there shouldn't be many vehicles about anyway. They will probably catch the same motorists later so what would be better, from a public education point of view, would be to send zero value PCNs and an explanation of the sign and their locations in order to help achieve the road safety objective.

So that is 2 points to Merton who have hardly backed off parking enforcement.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard