30 December 2021

2021 - A quiet year for PCNs

Due to Covid and people's changing transport patterns and lower mileage the number of PCNs which Mr Mustard fought was lower than the previous year. The following numbers take no account of PCNs which Mr Mustard has told people to pay, ones where they drove the wrong way or stopped bang in the middle of a yellow box and for which the only sensible thing to do was to pay the 50%

When Mr Mustard suggests fighting a PCN he wants to see it through to the end, the tribunal, although more often councils see the wisdom in his argument, knowing they are in for a c.£30 tribunal fee otherwise and probably no income.

Of the cases aside only 9 were cancelled at the informal stage, the earliest opportunity to respond to a PCN placed on your car (there isn't an informal stage for yellow boxes and other moving traffic contraventions). What this tells you is that you don't have much chance of a cancellation unless you resolve to see your PCN all the way to the tribunal. The statistics were affected by one person who couldn't get a permit during lockdown and still left their car in a resident bay for weeks. This was resolved with the help of a councillor in Haringey.

DNC means that an Appeal was started at London Tribunals but the council threw in the towel without a hearing. They could have cancelled earlier and not wasted the fees.

The PCN being refused was the hoped for outcome as the 50% discount was offered again, this being a hire car where the rental company was dropped in it.

You can see that Mr Mustard prevailed at the tribunal on 45 times out of 56 which is a win rate of 80% and overall he beat 116 of the 128 PCNs he took on which is 91% - not bad.

The end.

29 December 2021

Due adjustments - PCNs - the theory


Succession planning


Photo courtesy of The Roslin Institute, The University of Edinburgh, UK

The photo above is of Dolly the Sheep who was, as everyone knows, is a clone.

Mr Mustard needs to be cloned, well his brain does, you might not want to look like him.

The reason is that his creator, Derek, has gone cycling mad and is planning an epic journey. Let him tell you.

Yes readers, Derek here. I'm planning a journey like no other. In 2020 I cycled 2,000 miles in 6 weeks (Land's End to John O'Groats and then Inverness to London) and this year I cycled, along with many others, from London to Glasgow to highlight environmental concerns. In 2022 I am booked to cycle the length of the Hebrides with the starting point being in Glasgow as it happens (I will probably cycle to the start and back from the finish at Inverness seeing various family members on the east coast on the way back down). I also plan to cover several thousand miles and so whilst I will have my laptop with me (for work purposes) and could therefore fight PCNs of an evening, I want to have some time to myself.

I don't want to fail to help the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill and the poverty stricken who have previously relied on my help and who don't know when a council is trying to hoodwink them like I do. That is why I want someone else to be able to take over my role of giving free assistance and asking only for a voluntary donation (if the person can afford to make one) to the registered charity of their choice.

In 2009 I knew nothing about parking PCNs until I got one which turned out to be wrong. Acting like the vast majority of motorists I could easily have just paid it at 50% and forgotten all about it but I'm not like that, I want to know things. I therefore want to find someone who wants to know everything I have shoved into my brain in the last 12 years about council PCNs for parking, bus lanes and moving traffic contraventions (banned turns and yellow boxes etc) and who can then give their spare time over to helping those who can't so easily help themselves. It is a very rewarding, if somewhat odd, hobby. You do meet lots of interesting people.

There is the option for those people or businesses who could fight but don't want to be bothered with the paperwork, to offer a commercial service. You need to be literate, like a polite argument, inquisitive, organised and computer savvy as online is the quickest way to find things out and to fight a PCN.

Could this be you? Do get in touch by email: mrmustard@zoho.com

The end.

27 December 2021

Barnet Council don't care about people, PCN revenue first


Clearly if an adjudicator (whose hands are legally tied, he cannot allow on the grounds of mitigation or it just being the decent thing to do) makes a recommendation to cancel, which is what the legislation carefully allows for, the assumption in the legislation (wrongly) being that a council will use its powers sensibly, it must be the case that if the adjudicator was instead a council employee deciding on challenges to PCNs he would have cancelled. Why don't the council cancel? because they want the money.

Before making the decision the council should be made to sit in front of the motorist and his wife and explain why they will refuse the challenge.

Remember: In London you can't park on the pavement except where it is marked out to allow it.

Outside London (in England) you can park on the pavement except where it is banned by signage.

Easy to understand how this motorist, who has enough on his plate at this time, went wrong.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update: 27 December 2021

One of Mr Mustard's assiduous readers followed up for the outcome of the adjudicator's recommendation. The answer was that the council refused to follow the clear steer of an adjudicator, who only rarely use their legal right to make a compelling reasons recommendation. Here is the council's flawed reasoning.

The adjudicator has already decided that the PCN is legally valid so what the council are being asked to do is to exercise their discretion to cancel as a goodwill gesture and as the adjudicator has no power to consider mitigation.

Therefore the reasoning to justify not cancelling as a goodwill gesture should have been why being kind isn't reasonable in all the circumstances. The justification the council have used is that the contravention had occurred which was an agreed fact and they haven't in fact done what they were asked to do.

Never ever make the mistake that the council will put the public first, they put the money first.

The end.

23 December 2021

PCNs - exercise of discretion - #33 Westminster

No policy here either. Kerbside management policies are before the event, not after and not what was requested.

The online link was updated after Mr Mustard's request, no attempt has been made to see what was changed, as current discretion cancellation policy is the main interest.

Oddly, there is a reference to City Council policy but the FOI request for policies drew a blank. Very odd or else it simply illustrates that websites are a collection of fancy words not backed up in reality.

The end

Mr Mustard would provide TfL's policies but he forgot to ask for them at the same time and so will provide those in the new year.

PCNs - exercise of discretion - #32 Wandsworth

Usual question, no real answer.

The end.

22 December 2021

PCNs - exercise of discretion - #31 Waltham Forest


London Borough of Waltham Forest PCN Cancellation Procedure by MisterMustard on Scribd

Whilst there are 56 pages of blurb the vast majority are stating when there wasn't a contravention. There are some nuggets though.

Page 8 sets out some common sense consideration which should be applied. Grace periods are quoted but Mr Mustard doesn't know if they are adhered to or not.

The mitigation policy is mostly set out on page 11.

Page 12 tells us that you can load or unload from the pavement. Mr Mustard doesn't recommend that except when there is absolutely no alternative. Someone must stay with the vehicle to explain about loading to any passing traffic warden.

Page 19 tells us that you can park for free for 15 minutes in pay bays all over the borough. He checked a sample location and yes, the sign does tell you this.

This lets you drop off your dry cleaning or pick up a parcel etc. Very decent of the council. Still better for you to walk though if you live within a mile of your local shops.

Interestingly, Waltham Forest don't enforce parking across private driveways, see page 26.

The notes about multiple PCNs on page 35 have forgotten to say that if a restriction is in force 24 hours a day that there is only one continuous contravention and so only one PCN is legally valid.

If you contact the council when you are at the charge certificate stage (page 41) when 150% of PCN value is payable, they will accept 50% if you ask. Who said it isn't all about the money? Will they also consider out of time representations?

On the same page it is pleasing to see the council is open to complaints about process, other councils try to deny that this should be allowed, when of course it should as the role of the tribunal is limited by legislation and does not include complaints.

On the next page the paragraph about addresses looks wrong. You can ask the council to write to you at any other address for your convenience.

The note at 15 on page 42 tells us that the council themselves did not write this policy, which leads to the assumption that NSL wrote it. It also makes Mr Mustard wonder what else NSL do that the council really should do, such as the consideration of formal representations.

The end.

Redbridge Council - risibly optimistic

Mr Mustard's attention has been drawn to a recent decision involving Redbridge Council who wanted costs because a motorist was a bit slow in providing evidence which was not strictly necessary, most people telling the truth about their circumstances, as in this case, but parking departments treating everyone as rotten liars.

Clearly Redbridge Council didn't think very hard before making their application for costs and had both barrels of the gun clearly aimed at their feet.

The rule is that costs are rarely awarded. Here is Mr Mustard's experience from 2018.

Here is the outcome

Redbridge should know how bad things have to be before costs come into the equation, the answer is pretty bad.

The end.

21 December 2021

PCNs - exercise of discretion - #29 Sutton

Sutton's document about the exercise of discretion is mostly about circumstances when there isn't a contravention which doesn't need a policy other than that the PCN should therefore be cancelled.

There is an odd reference to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal which adjudicates on PCNs issued outside of London, not within, so not within the boundaries of the London Borough of Sutton.

Discretion Guidance Sutton Council by MisterMustard on Scribd


20 December 2021

Barnet Council - trip over their own shoelaces

Mr Mustard has read the complete judgment in this case.

You can read the entire judgment here. Mr Mustard has picked out the highlights for you to save time but a read of the entire judgment is possible on the link above.

Put in layman's terms, a Mr Shah tripped up on a badly maintained Barnet pavement and was seriously injured. Barnet Council admitted liability and then when they found out that the claim was going to cost them a lot more than they thought they tried to change their mind (resile) but the High Court made them eat their words.

Comments in advance of each extract: The outline.

Barnet's chronology was short on detail.
Liability wrongly denied
Mr Shah's accident was a serious one.
Barnet Council are incompetent
WO = work order.
Barnet Council admit liability: there should be no going back on that.
The route of Mr Shah was obvious to anyone who looked at an online map.
The lack of other complaints doesn't prove there wasn't a defect only that other defects hadn't been reported.
Several problems with Barnet Council's evidence.
Barnet Council evidence is 'hopeless'.
Barnet Council described as 'barely credible' which is almost accusing them of lying.
Why wasn't a better search made for evidence by staff within Highways who knew how to find it?
Conduct of Barnet Council - they didn't invite Mr Shah to the site inspection when he could have identified the trip hazard. Rude, unbusinesslike and, in the event, expensive.
Barnet Council - inefficient
Barnet council - inadequate record keeping.
Barnet Council don't convince the judge that they have much of a case should they be allowed to fight it.
Barnet Council largely ignoring Mr Shah and laying tarmac over the location didn't help them.

The trial of  the application by Barnet Council to resile from their (change their mind about) admission of liability and of the claimant Mr Shah for judgment to be given in his favour will have cost thousands. Costs are usually awarded to the succesful party so Barnet Council have wasted more of our money. They may say they could have won and there sometimes are surprising judgments made but based upon what we can all read here of the exhibited incompetence of the council this case was only ever going to go one way.

Barnet Council Highways department. Remind Mr Mustard who ran that in August 2018. Yes, Regional Enterprise Ltd, a company 51% owned by Capita. This has been earmarked for return to the council in 2023. Were the councillors who made the decision told about this legal case which was heard in July 2021 and the judgment was handed down in September 2021 such that highways knew about it? Probably not is Mr Mustard's guess.


PCNs - exercise of discretion - #28 Southwark

Coming soon - Mr Mustard's request may have prompted or speeded up this policy.


PCNs - exercise of discretion - #27 Richmond

A short and therefore not at all sweet set of discretion policies from Richmond but it is a start.


Croydon Council Covid cash-in

Mr Mustard is indebted to a friend for bringing this tribunal decision to his attention. Clearly he sits and reads the register even more than Mr Mustard does!

It seems that Croydon Council are more concerned with balancing the books and keeping that lovely PCN cash flowing than in beating the pandemic. The world is unbalanced, and not a better or healthier place, by the voracious appetite of councils everywhere for PCN income.

Mr Mustard hopes that Croydon Council come to their senses and cancel.