29 April 2021

Take your pick - £130 PCN or a head on smash with a vehicle transporter?


Mr Mustard doesn't know the size of the vehicle transporter in this case but it will certainly have been a lot larger than the car, a white Audi A1 (you can look up certain vehicle details on government websites about road fund and MOT status for most vehicles). Realistically though, the best idea is to get out of the way of any vehicle which is likely to hit you, especially head on.

Clearly the anonymous staff who decide whether or not to cancel your PCN don't factor danger to the person into their decision making even though avoiding an accident is an obvious defence to a bus lane PCN. They think you should risk being smashed to pieces so that you don't put a single mm of car into the bus lane.

Note that there was only a minimal incursion so this is clearly not the case of a person hooning up the bus lane past a row of stationary cars. Also, almost all of  Barnet's bus lanes take you south so probably don't even need a restriction which covers 6-7pm (this PCN was for being in the bus lane at 6:08 pm on 29 October.)

It was also dark (sunset at 4:37 pm on the day in question) and thus making out clearly what was happening was harder for the driver of the Audi who was clearly a safe and sensible driver as were two more, who probably also got ticketed.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

28 April 2021

Barnet - blue badge stolen? - tough, have a PCN

The theory goes that councils are there, in part, to serve the public. That is the theory, the reality is cruel and unhelpful.

The adjudicator has done the best then can in accordance with their duties and the law. Mr Mustard doesn't know the outcome, as he wasn't acting in this case, but does hope that on fourth thoughts (they had possibly rejected the motorist at the informal stage and definitely at the formal stages and then decided to fight the Appeal so had already had ample opportunity to do the decent thing) some common sense and decency will prevail.

Challenges to PCNs are made in remote back offices or even home offices at the present. There is no independent oversight of the process. Mr Mustard thinks that if a council officer had to sit opposite the motorist and tell them why they were refusing the challenge that a lot of more sensible decisions would be made.

Mr Mustard doubts there are sensible measures in place to assist blue badge holders who are the victim of crime. The very least they should do is put the registration number of the affected motorist onto a white list for 6 weeks so that they do not get a PCN within Barnet during the time it takes to get a replacement badge.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

19 April 2021

Barnet - what price for correct signage?


Mr Mustard noticed an error when out and about in the borough, in Netherlands Rd, the bus only route through the middle of the road which is covered by a cctv camera which is very fond of sending out PCNs for £130.

There used to be a barrier which lifted into the air but it kept being broken (possibly deliberately) and parts had to come from abroad which entailed delays so this way the council make a profit rather than having a cost at this location. You have to be pretty negligent to drive your car through the wrong section. The blue arrow should not be there.

Mr Mustard emailed the Highways team

The reply surprised Mr Mustard

The reason for the surprise is the absolute duty on a traffic authority, such as Barnet Council, to erect traffic signs which correctly reflect Traffic Orders. It isn't an option to decide whether or not to erect correct signs, as this law states

Now tell Mr Mustard that Barnet Council don't put money above all other considerations?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

16 April 2021

Redbridge - not clear, intra vires and communicated.

The three pavement parking PCNs which were given out one after the other to three cars parked like the above one, in a road which had these signs everywhere:

have now been cancelled after the formal representations were made, the almost identical informal challenges having all been rejected based upon a misreading of the law by Redbridge Council (see previous blog). Redbridge probably finally worked out, thanks to other emails by Mr Mustard which contained complaints and his explanation of the law on signs, that if they rejected him again they would be facing him at the tribunal and as well as not being paid for the PCNs, if and when they lost, they would be out of pocket for three tribunal fees of £30 each.

Mr Mustard has been in front of a particular adjudicator who sometimes sums up the situation about PCNs as being that the contravention must be 'clear, intra vires and communicated' (intra vires = lawful by dint of having the legal power to issue the PCN). Mr Mustard tries to learn from what adjudicators have to say.

Here is what Redbridge had to say after having right royally messed up.

The first sentence should read 'that was affixed'.

No information as to when the consultation was carried out, how and when the residents of this particular road were consulted, if and when they were notified of the outcome, whether cyclists were consulted as cars are allowed to park in the cycle lane, and how drivers were told that the tarmac area was the extent of the section to park (in). An entire paragraph saying nothing of real use or relevance. What Redbridge haven't explained is how a driver knew, by signs, that he/she had to confine their wheels to the tarmac. Drivers from other boroughs would have no idea this was the council policy and only the most observant residents of Redbridge might work it out.

Mr Mustard had already explained to Redbridge Council that the sign means that all of a vehicle except for two wheels are allowed to be over the pavement. If a pavement is too narrow to allow for most of a car to be parked on the pavement then, following the council's own policy about free space for pedestrians, they shouldn't have allowed pavement parking at that location. Not everyone will know that RTA stands for Road Traffic Accident. Mr Mustard feels sure the council would disclaim liability for any accident regardless of how far a car was on the pavement.

The decision to cancel was really forced upon Redbridge as they were wrong. Note the complete lack of contrition or apology for having wrongly trained their traffic wardens and for wrongly having rejected perfectly valid informal challenges and for having put three law abiding residents through three months of worry.

Note also the defiance and the pre-judging of future PCNs 'which will not be cancelled' - that all depends upon Redbridge painting legally valid lines and erecting matching signs (don't hold your breath). In addition, enforcement authorities such as Redbridge aren't meant to pre-judge the outcome of a representation against a PCN, they are meant to judge it on its merits and without any thought to the income which derives from it. Redbridge Council don't appear to hold the Statutory Guidance of the Secretary of State in high regard in this respect.

Drivers everywhere, the ones who have to visit Redbridge, Mr Mustard should have made your life simpler as Redbridge will now make it crystal clear where pavement parking is to be allowed.

Mr Mustard thinks Redbridge Council may well feature in the blog again in the future if pavement parking is a measure of their (in)competence.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

15 April 2021

Councils falling out amongst themselves


Mr Mustard wonders if the stress on council budgets is so much worse than he realises when councils start falling out amongst themselves over £130 for what was clearly a trivial matter.

Enfield Council should be well aware of the legal doctrine of 'de minimis'

Enfield Council could easily have accepted the formal representations and suggested the Islington driver left a teensy weensy bit more room in future or one of the two parking managers could, after an amicable chat, have given way but instead we have council tax payer money being wasted in two councils whilst one side thrusts and the other parries and then Enfield throw another £30 down the drain to pay for the tribunal time and facilities.

Our low level functionaries aren't giving local government a great reputation by such behaviour.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

14 April 2021

Enfield Council knock themselves out at the tribunal


Enfield residents will be rightly mystified by Enfield Council taking Enfield Council to task at the tribunal and not doing a very good job of proving the contravention against themelves and coming out both the victor (as the Appellant) and the loser (as the enforcement authority) having poured the £30 tribunal fee down the drain.

There is no exemption for such a vehicle, not, by inference as it would have been mentioned, being an ambulance, to ignore the 'no motor vehicles' restriction (although there is an exemption for the dustcart) which seems a pretty poor oversight by whoever designed this particular 'low traffic neighbourhood' (LTN) and whoever it was should read my immediately previous blog about Hammersmith & Fulham where they have exempted all the traffic which has a legitimate interest in entering a particular area without undue delay.

In Enfield's case the scheme they have designed leaves the elderly laying in distress on the floor for the time it takes to drive around the edge of the LTN, possibly an extra hour at rush hour, but every minute matters at such a time so even 5 minutes would be an extra 5 too many, unless the driver breaks motoring law, for which he/she might get a rollocking from their line manager.

Enfield Council - time to go back to the drawing board and allow sensible access to LTNs and stop fighting yourself.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

13 April 2021

Imperial Road, Fulham


Mr Mustard used to drive across London quite a lot but no longer does. He has in the past used Imperial Road to get to Wandsworth Bridge but suggests you don't try it now as the council camera will get you and send you a lovely PCN in the post for £130, it will sting a bit.

Mr Mustard doesn't want to get embroiled in brutal LTN (low traffic neighbourhood) arguments (he is a cyclist as well as a motorist) but does want to say well done to Hammersmith & Fulham council as unlike other boroughs who have left residents unable to take the most direct route to their homes, H&F have allowed for residents and their visitors to enter through points which are prohibited to long distance traffic, see the clear map above.

If you have to visit your granny, or grandad, or any other resident relative, you can get a visitor permit that allows you to take the direct route without risk of a penalty. For that the council are to be commended and other councils should take note.

The explanation on the council website is here. So that's the praise part of the blog written.

Now the less postive part. Two contacts of Mr Mustard did go through one of the checkpoints. Mr Mustard made representations in both cases that signage was inadequate, in November and December 2020 respectively. For a parking PCN the council are legally obliged to serve a response to formal representations (those made in response to a Notice to Owner) within 56 days, there is no such time limit in the legislation for moving traffic contraventions but adjudicators normally find against the council once 90 days have passed by. The 90 day periods duly passed by for both PCNs and Mr Mustard smiled to himself. Then finally H&F stirred themselves and cancelled both PCNs without mentioning they had taken an age to put pen to paper (finger to keyboard in reality).

The letter doesn't actually say why they decided to cancel and is 'without prejudice' to their position, what position, of being incompetent? 'Without prejudice' means the letter cannot be produced in Court but PCNs don't go to Court so what is the point of including such nonsense?

Mr Mustard showed the letter to his Solicitor to see what he made of it and his opinion was:

'One and a half pages of hot air.  Why not just say we have decided to cancel it.'

Not very often you get a free legal opinion.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard