30 July 2021

NEPP - compounding their error by being late

 

Above are the time limits for sending a Notice to Owner in a regulation 9 (served on street) parking PCN situation. This post relates to the third PCN in the previous blog post, a PCN that shouldn't have existed in the first place.

Sub-para 'a' refers to a situation whereby a witness statement has been filed as a document went missing or another defined set of circumstances had taken place.

Sub-para 'b' refers to a situation as a hire vehicle or a vehicle sale such that it is perfectly reasonable to issue a fresh Notice to Owner.

Sub-para 'c' relates to payments which have been made and perhaps allocated incorrectly.

None of a, b or c applied in this case, thus 'd' applied. The time limit for serving a Notice to owner was 6 months.

Following a complaint which Mr Mustard made about processing in this case which had reached the charge certificate stage NEPP thought they could send a second Notice to Owner and so they did do just that. NEPP now say it wasn't a real Notice to Owner but a copy Notice to Owner (which Mr Mustard hadn't requested) and instead of bearing Mr Mustard's address (he having given that address as good for service on the registered keeper) it should have had the previous address on it, the one from which Mr C had moved.


Mr Mustard didn't know it (supposedly) was a copy of a document so he made representations. On that day, 17 July 2020, Mr Mustard was in Manchester having got that far from Land's End. He was in the hotel whose bar and restaurant were closed due to an overabundance of Covid safety measures and was enjoying his dinner from ASDA which contained a large element of red wine. It would have been foolish of Mr Mustard to have ignored the Notice to Owner as it looked and felt like a Notice to Owner and ignoring time limited statutory documents leads to hell.

The representations which Mr Mustard made were simple, the Notice to Owner was out of time. On 14 August he received a Notice of Acceptance although the council cancelled on the grounds of discretion. It would be much better if they simply accepted they were wrong, three times wrong in this case.

1    The PCN was not valid as there was no new contravention, just a continuous one which a penalty had been paid for.

2    The Notice to owner was a nullity as it was served out of time.

3    The duty on the enforcement authority (acting by its useless agent NEPP) is to consider the representations which are made and decide if it accepts them or not. They didn't get a mention in the Notice of Acceptance so it amounted to a procedural impropriety.

Had Mr C not had the benefit of representation by Mr Mustard he would have ended up paying all three PCNs.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


29 July 2021

NEPP - yet another grasping parking ticket issuer

 


The motorist made an error and had his rear wheel on double yellows. One PCN is perfectly acceptable in the circumstances but three is extortionate. It didn't make for a good weekend.

Days and times of issue

Clearly the motorist, let us call him Mr C, didn't see his car as otherwise he would have moved it after the first PCN.

There is no excuse for the traffic wardens, the second and third of whom should not have issued a PCN having seen their colleagues work affixed to the windscreen. It is no wonder that the public think that traffic wardens get paid for issuing more tickets when meritless illegal PCNs are given out.

Just so you know NEPP is the North Essex Parking Partnership which operates on behalf of Colchester Borough Counci, Braintree, Epping Forest, Harlow, Tendring & Uttlesford councils. They should be experts in PCN issue and processing. They aren't.

Mr Mustard advised Mr C to pay the first PCN in time at 50% and challenge the other two on these grounds.

As you did not move the car there was one continuous contravention so only one PCN is due.

Usually another PCN is not issued until 24 hours after the previous one.

Both of these representations were rejected. NEPP were wrong to do so. It's as if all they are interested in is money.

The PCNs ended up being processed at different speeds. This is what NEPP said later

Saturday PCN
Formal Representation received on 14th January.
Accepted on 13th February on grounds that this was served within 24 hours of the initial PCN

Sunday PCN
The third would not automatically be cancelled for being the same contravention, as it was not within 24 hours.

Mr Mustard had rather expected NEPP to cancel both the second and third PCNs as each one was issued less than 24 hours before the previous one (although there is no magic about a 24 hour period in this case) but they fooled him by saying that PCNs 1 and 3 were more than 24 hours apart but that is to ignore the fact that only one contravention had occurred.

Later on, Mr Mustard made both a complaint and out of time representations which led to a cancellation, as follows.


It is true that the vehicle was parked in contravention but a penalty charge notice had already been served, and a second one illegally served, so this third PCN was not correctly served.

Discretion isn't in it. They should know at NEPP that they are in the wrong.

The final paragraph is empty puff and weak, 'may' be held liable, no, as only one PCN can be served for one contravention.

Cancelling a PCN makes NEPP want to have the last word but that is churlish behaviour when they are in the wrong.

If a council had to pay a motorist the value of an illegal PCN they might be less trigger happy when issuing.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

28 July 2021

Edinburgh - two PCNs within 24 hours

It isn't beyond the skill set of the software coder to design a PCN issuing system which doesn't allow a PCN to be issued when it isn't lawful such as when only one contravention has been committed. There isn't, of course, any money for the council in such a move. There is reputational damage but councils seem to be more interested in revenue raising than what people think of them.

Today Mr Mustard goes north of the border to Edinburgh where they don't know parking law. Here is an extract from the Adjudicator's decision in the case of Mr S

The council's submissions were, in Mr Mustard's view, imprecise and confusing (absolute garbage) and didn't, as they often don't, get to the heart of the matter; they are often obfuscatory (Mr Mustard cuts through nonsense like that and a professional lay representative was also instructed in this case).
The adjudicator swiftly reached their conclusion

Point 1 is trite law.


Point 2 is an interesting aside. Mr Mustard once considered a vehicle which managed to commit three simultaneous contraventions which possibly were being partially on the pavement at a dropped kerb with double yellow lines. 

The adjudicator then rubbed the council's nose in their actions

For 18 years The City of Edinburgh Council have accepted that only one PCN can be issued to a vehicle on double yellow lines which does not move and yet they issued two PCNs in this case.

Are they stupid, forgetful or dishonest? Who knows, what they have, in common with Brent, Barnet & Hillindon Councils whose shenigans have recently featured on the blog, is a propensity to make mistakes in their own financial favour. How convenient.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard 


25 July 2021

Nutley Terrace - Camden

You need to stay out of Nutley Terrace (from Fitzjohn Avenue) between 8 and 9am and from 3pm to 4.15pm as my inbox is filling up with requests for help and a moving traffic PCN is hard to beat.

This is the warning sign if you come straight across into Nutley Terrace from Nutely Terrace (i.e. across Fitzjohn)


This is the warning sign as you come down Fitzjohn
Out of hours the signs are covered up which I think is wrong as they don't get imprinted on your brain.
Warning sign as you come north up Fitzjohn. The lovely trees make the sign hard to see.
A nearer view
The next turning to the north, Netherhall Gardens, which has the same restriction but doesn't get the same amount of traffic.

I have put the photos here so i can send a link to people rather than a 37mb email.
 

22 July 2021

You did nothing about a PCN - same here

 

The PCN processing system is carefully designed to bring finality to a PCN if a deadline is missed although it is matched with a fallback system in case a document goes missing.

As is often the case Mr Mustard received a phone call out of the blue from someone who knew someone whom Mr Mustard had assisted in the past. Mr Mustard can't give out informed advice over the telephone and always says the same thing 'Please send copies of everything'.

Four PCNs duly hit his inbox. They had all been issued in mid May for contravening a new 'no motor vehicles' contravention. They were for a location in Camden at which Mr Mustard had challenged one PCN the previous day, as luck would have it, so he knew the ins and outs of the location. There is an argument that the signs aren't accurate and that they are mis-placed but that is academic if you get timed out of the process.

As well as four PCNs Mr Mustard received four Charge Certificates dated at the end of June and early July.

The law is that you get 28 days, starting with the date of receipt of the PCN, in which to make your representations on a moving traffic PCN. Most councils allow a few days extra to account for any possible postal delay. If you make representations after the 28 days, the law says that councils can 'disregard' them. To 'disregard' is to ignore. That wouldn't be helpful so what most councils do is write back saying you are too late (that is businesslike and to be applauded). If you are late because, say, you were in hospital for the month Mr Mustard would expect a council to actively consider the representations as it would be unfair not to.

Mr Mustard enquired as to what had happened between the PCNs and the Charge Certificates being received, in case one of the fallback provisions applied and they are, in brief

1.  The PCN was not received.

2.  Representations were made but a reply was not received.

3.  An Appeal was made to a traffic adjudicator to which no response was received.

It was too soon for option 3 to be applicable and clearly option 1 was not applicable. That only left option 2. Mr Mustard asked the motorist in question, let us call him Mr P, what he had done between receiving the PCNs and receiving the Charge Certificates. The answer was 'nothing at all'.

Mr Mustard sent his advice.

I am afraid that I am unable to help you. My expertise is in fighting PCNs on time.

The advice didn't seem to be that welcome.

Is there really nothing you can do? Any advise ?

Sometimes Mr Mustard just has to tell it how it is and so he did. The PCNs do warn you what may happen if you do nothing, the penalty may rise by 50%

Nothing legal.

Pay up is my advice and act on PCNs as the system is designed to time you out if you don't respond.

Mr Mustard is not here to get you out of a pit that you shouldn't be in. Never ignore a PCN. Whereas £260 could have settled all four PCNs in the first 14 days, the sum now due is £780. Best get your act together everyone.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

12 July 2021

Spaced out at Dart Charge

 

Mr Mustard's friend Bella has a personal numberplate, which she inherited and decided to keep and use.

A couple of years ago she received a PCN from Dart Charge for not paying to cross. As she has had an auto pay account for years that was a bit miffing. She phoned Dart Charge at the time, they were polite and helpful, which to be fair they usually are, and they squashed the wrong charge and put her registration on a (long) list of vehicles which have to be personally checked.

Oh dear, it went wrong again last week. Bella duly phoned up Dart Charge, keeping Mr Mustard in reserve in case the big guns were needed, and the unhelpful man at Dart Charge tried to blame her for having a space in the numberplate as that caused problems for their cameras. Everyone knows that ANPR cameras have their faults but with the supposed personal check as well the PCN should not have been generated.

The plate was properly spaced, it was fitted by the garage, a main dealer, to her new car when she purchased it and much like 110 TON above, an image taken from a police advert about how the spacing should look (it is defined to the millimetre in BS AU145e) Bella's two numeric three alpha plate has the correct spacing between the two sets of data and that is how the plate will remain. Let's see how long it is before the next blunder, hopefully never.

Even though you know the PCN is wrong you must deal with it or legally you become guilty by default. A terrible system.

If you do receive a Dart Charge PCN because you had never heard of the Dartford Crossing you will often find that if you phone them up (0300 300 0120) the helpful people there (as long as you don't get Mr Spaced Out) will let you pay the £2.50 (or whatever) crossing fee and cancel the first PCN. That is decent of Dart Charge as the aim is improved compliance not revenue rising after all.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard