27 September 2021

The Unhappy Man (with a PCN)

So here we are in 2018, a lovely view of a local pub in Englefield Green and no single yellow line but the pub reserving road space (they may or may not have a delivery coming but still shouldn't put trip hazards in the road). There are no single yellow lines in this road at this time, only doubles to stop obstructive and/or dangerous parking.

The tall hedge on the right is now gone, replaced by a small development that is close to completion.

Mr Mustard contributes to the PePiPoo forum (silly name but a good site) where you can get good free advice on various problems with officialdom including for private parking charges which Mr Mustard doesn't fight.

He came across this question.

Mr Mustard took a look at the images which had been made available:

This photograph was taken by a traffic warden

Mr Mustard knew immediately that this wasn't a council sign (or else the sign shop is staffed by nincompoops, not the case, they are employed to patrol the streets). The reasons are:

- the screws holding the sign to the pole are not the way that signs are affixed, always done with an adjustable metal hoop at the back. Also, none of the pole should stick out above the sign.

- the roundel is correct but it is so universally recognised that no words are required. Oddly, you might think, the roundel means 'no waiting' not 'no parking'. Look at the similar signs where you are, they have no words and 'no parking' is not an authorised variant of the sign.

- Between means Tuesday to Thursday. The PCN was issued on a Monday so isn't valid.

- Between the time and the am/pm suffix should be a space.

- The arrow is superfluous. There is no line in the opposite direction. Guidance requires one sign within 15m of each end of the line and at 60m intervals on long lines.

In summary, only the roundel is correct (although Mr Mustard hasn't had the opportunity to measure it & it too could be wrong).

It may surprise you to know that traffic wardens don't know what the Traffic Order, which sets out the rules for each section of road, says. They rely on the same signs as the motorist. In order to issue a PCN the following applies:

If the traffic warden was competent, he/she would not hold the belief that a penalty charge was payable, as no contravention can occur unless adequate legally compliant signage is in place. 

Since this PCN was issued, two things have happened

1 - the line has been painted out and the signs removed. This is because the traffic section was asked if the signs and line should be there. At least the council can be praised for their swift action in that regard.

2 - The PCN has been challenged as to not do so would, at the next stage, make the registered keeper guilty by default.

Who painted the line and erected the signs remains a mystery. It could have been the builders who wanted more room to get lorries in and out of their site (the sign & lines arrived once work had commenced) or the pub, who seem to regard the road space as their own. It could equally have been anybody else but that will probably remain a mystery. Here is the scene today:

A barrel across the dropped kerb is partly understandable but still shouldn't be there.

Whilst we are on the question of signs, here are some more that Mr Mustard has spotted in his travels.

The sign above, seen whilst on a walk in Bramfield (try the lovely pub, The Grandison with good beer and food) makes the same 'No parking' error.

At least this sign in The Meadway ask politely and says Thank You.

This sign, numerous example of which were erected in Hampden Way, at the very edge of Barnet, also repeats the 'No parking' error. More likely than not, contravening vehicles will be relocated not removed. This doesn't look like an approved sign to Mr Mustard. He hasn't emailed the Parking Manager much recently, time to do so.  

Mr Mustard

Update 28 September:Runnymede Council say this (not the pub then!)

Until Mr Mustard sees the actual Order, properly advertised, he won't believe it exists.

22 September 2021

Barnet Council - crass and insensitive

Mr Mustard has, since 2015, fought roughly one PCN per annum PCN for a delightful elderly couple in their eighties, just the kind of people he likes to help. Let's call them Mr & Mrs B.

Mr Mustard received a phone call on his home phone from Mr B to tell him that sadly, after 62 years of married life in which they had done everything they ever wanted to do, Mrs B had died 2 months prior and he had a box junction PCN in her name. Mr Mustard made a house call. He found that the PCN had been issued at a location which Mr Mustard has always had over-turned on Appeal, outside Toni & Guy as the box extends beyond the junction with Bath Place, the clue is in the name 'box junction'.


The V5 registration document had not yet been updated, other matters like pensions being more pressing, and given that Mr B was likely to do it by post, it would take some time in any event. Mr Mustard suggested it might be something that Mr B could update online, perhaps with the help of one of his children. Mr B is pretty with it for an octogenarian so might even do it himself unaided.

Mr Mustard thought that one email to Barnet Council should rightly see the matter resolved, so he sent it.

To Mr Mustard's surprise he didn't receive a reply. Forwarded on in the post by Mr B was a letter addressed to Mrs B, yes, the deceased Mrs B. Here are the contents of it.

It wasn't a letter, it was an email that Mr Mustard sent.

It wasn't received on 6 September but on 4 September, the day it was sent.

The driver isn't the liable party.

The car hasn't been sold.

Apart from those errors the whole letter is based upon a premise that nothing is more important than one miserable PCN, a PCN that Mr Mustard would, based on previous history, beat at the tribunal should it get there.

Mr Mustard doesn't think it will as he has sent a complaint to the process manager. Here it is

There is a complete lack of objectivity in parking departments. In the rush to plug the holes in council coffers the employees forget they are meant to be public servants and ruthlessly chase every PCN to the bitter end. This one certainly leaves a bitter taste.

What a world we live in when one PCN is more important than the loss of a life.

Mr Mustard

21 September 2021

The council believes....

Here is a still photo taken from the cctv cameras which point at Rodborough Road in Golders Green into which you are not allowed to turn right from Finchley Road (you also can't turn right now out of Rodborough Road into Finchley Road, in fact, more emphatically, you must turn left so don't do the dog leg straight on to go to Sainsburys, that will be £130 on your grocery bill).

Here is what it looks like from a vehicle on the approach.

For a 'no right turn' the statutory placement of the sign is on the left opposite the junction (as near as practicable to that point) which Mr Mustard thinks should be opposite the 'no entry' bollard on that convenient lamp post. Barnet Council have put it a little further up the road which means the motorist is less likely to see it. Also, as it is past the junction it is intended for it might be advance warning of the next road being a no right turn, how would a driver know?

You can just make out, in the lower image, a reinforcing sign just after the junction, on the right hand side. This has been twisted, as it often has, and has featured in tribunal decisions as being turned away and as being after the junction so not adequate as indicating the location of the banned turn.

Now if you go back to the top picture what do you see, a white van with a cage which appears to be full of green sacks. Who uses green sacks Mr Mustard hears you ask? why Barnet Council of course. So what we have here is a Barnet street scene van (most probably) illegally parked on pedestrian crossing zig zags, a contravention so bad it is one of the few that the Met Police can still take action for, and that means that the 'no right turn' sign on the left will be much harder to see and only for a very short time. The test of signage is whether or not it is adequate. Mr Mustard doesn't think this is.

If you then cast your eyes to the right to find the non-statutory backup sign, between the bin and the black van, you can see that the sign can't be seen, no red and white circles in shot.

The way that these banned turns are monitored is by computer controlled cameras. They have been programmed to watch the traffic 24 hours a day and select from the footage some small sections which show when the computer thinks a contravention has been committed. An employee, probably of NSL, probably sat in an office in Dingwall, is then meant to review the footage and decide if the computer has correctly chosen an event which equals a contravention. Mr Mustard suspects that the process of watching one short clip after another for hours on end completely erodes whatever concentration or thinking ability the probably lowly paid employee has and they end up blindly ticking yes to every piece of footage.

In this case no thought was given to the fact that the right hand side sign was twisted (it isn't a legal requirement so that can be put to one side although if it is there it should be the correct way round) but even less thought, always assuming the illegally parked van was even noticed, was given to the visibility and adequacy of the sign on the left hand side of the road.

The law states that the PCN must state what contravention 'The grounds on which the council....believe that the penalty charge is payable with respect to the vehicle'. That belief cannot in all conscience be in the mind of the council on this particular occasion.

Should you receive a PCN at this location during the hours of darkness then you have a rock solid defence. The maximum speed on this road is 30mph which means that this particular sign must be illuminated during the hours of darkness. oddly, the sign on the right which is a sign that doesn't need to be there, is illuminated. The sign on the left which does need to be there, but a bit further forward, isn't illuminated. 

Mr Mustard thinks the council don't think hard enough about adequate and fair sign placements but just bang them up on the easiest poles which come to hand.

The PCN itself will be fought through the usual channels.

Mr Mustard

19 September 2021

The Mystery at White Hart Lane

The mystery has nothing to do with Premier League football.

It has to do with why traffic wardens issue a PCN to one car and not to another one which is more badly parked.

In this case the traffic warden has arrived by riding past a whole line of cars parked on double yellows and then stopped, ticketed 3 vehicles on a single yellow and then left again and ridden for a second time past vehicles on the same double yellow lines as if no contravention had occurred.

Thus the drivers who would be viewed as less guilty of wrongful parking get ticketed and the more serious ones park as they please (Mr Mustard doesn't believe for a moment that they all had a blue badge, the traffic warden wouldn't see those without a brief stop at each windscreen and the date of validity would need to be checked).

Mr Mustard wonders why the traffic warden zoomed off? He hears you think that it was because he got a call from his base on the radio to go somewhere else urgently. That is possible but the odd thing is that Mr Mustard was at the same place last week and the same thing happened except that on 12 September there were 4 traffic wardens studiously ignoring vehicles parked on the double yellows. All very odd.

There is a car boot sale going on at the Haringey Borough FC ground at this section of White Hart Lane. Is that part of the mystery?

Mr Mustard

sorry about the mark on the windscreen, now cleaned.

3 September 2021

Great Expectations in Rotherhithe - pay what you can afford (£5+) or free


Keep left means don't go right

Mr Mustard cycled down Palmerston Rd, Palmers Green, London n13 not all that long ago. It has been redesigned to be less of a through route as it is parallel to Green Lanes, an A road which is the natural and intended route for through traffic.

Looking at the image below there is a cctv camera on the black pole to the right of the cyclist. There is also a cctv camera warning sign which doesn't have to be near the camera itself, just dotted about the borough generally.

Mr Mustard wondered what the point of the camera was as surely no-one would be caught by it doing anything wrong at all but it was Mr Mustard who was wrong which he found out when he saw the multiple PCNs for Mr Klass. A further search revealed multiple PCNs for the same contravention by Mr Cimen.

What these two gentlemen did, as the decisions explain, is to go to the right of the centre island in order to turn right. You can legally turn right by going past the bollard, turning around and then going left but that takes a whole minute longer. Saving one minute 5 times has cost one of them £650 and the other one £520.

Here is the adjudication decision in the case of Mr Klass.

In a parking case the adjudicator has the power to recommend the council cancel a PCN or moderate the liability. They don't have that power in moving traffic cases and thus the adjudicator made a suggestion. It is the council who hold the power in such a situation as only they have the legal power to exercise discretion which they are on the whole very reluctant to exercise. 

In this particular location turning right isn't dangerous as the road you enter is one way. On the other hand there are multiple cynical refusals to follow the rules of the road and the unexpected is dangerous if another vehicle appears, perhaps a cyclist as this is a good route south for cycles from the North Circular.

Mr Musatrd doesn't suppose that deliberate contraventions will be committed by either gentlemen ever again but enforcing one PCN would have been enough to achieve the traffic management purpose without Enfield Council deciding to seize the opportunity to fill their coffers.

You have been warned.

Mr Mustard

2 September 2021

Time travel in Kensington & Chelsea

You probably don't know that Mr Mustard likes the Harry Potter books and films as he hasn't chosen to mention it before and as broomsticks don't get PCNs. It has however become relevant as time travel is apparently possible by traffic wardens within Kensington & Chelsea. If you have read or watched you will know that Hermione (pronounced her-my-oh-knee not her-me-own) Grainger once tried to be in two places simultaneously:

Hermione wasn't actually in two places at once, she rewound time and then performed the second set of tasks she wanted to do, using a Time Turner.

It is rumoured that all of the devices were destroyed but clearly one has avoided that fate and is used for the very important work of maximising the number of PCNs which can be issued by one person.

Coming up is a decision about two consecutive PCNs issued by one traffic warden who claimed two over-lapping periods of continuous observation of two different vehicles. The eyes can only focus on one thing at a time. 

Here are extracts of the two PCNs.

Had the PCNs said 'at x and y times' there could be no complaint but the usual argument of council back offices when rejection loading/unloading claims is that the traffic warden was there throughout (relying on the to and from times) and didn't see any unloading and so it wasn't happening. Firstly, that wasn't the truth and secondly, you can't always get the removals vans to the door. Here is what the adjudicator decided for one PCN (the other one being decided earlier by the simple way of accepting that loading was taking place).

Well spotted by the adjudicator that there was an inconsistency in the recorded times, they are all ace at that sort of detail, and agreeing that the two observations couldn't have been continuous, which wasn't helped by the traffic warden leaving the location between the stated from/to times as the data recorded on his hand held equipment recorded! (this data was demanded by the Appellant's representative for use at the hearing).

When two liveried removals vans are together at a location perhaps the logical thought isn't to scurry back and forth hiding behind trees or street corners (to function as an imaginary invisibilty cloak) but to ask yourself if someone really is moving in or out and give a much longer continuous observation (a real one) or to pop by 3 or 4 times to see if furniture really is on the move.

The back office don't escape criticism either. The furniture of residents in Onslow Gardens is more likely to be antique than Ikea (other cheap furniture shops are available) so leaving the van doors wide open doesn't strike Mr Mustard as the best idea and given that the loading was from the sixth floor it would take time so there will be periods of apparent inactivity.

Whoever rejected the representations, the person who then decided to fight the Appeal as well as the traffic warden all deserve a spell in Azkaban.

Mr Mustard