26 April 2022

Blue badge misuse - please don't do it

Auditors at Barnet Council looked at PCN cancellation processes last year. Here are some of the points they were concerned about:

Best not to cheat by using a blue badge when you shouldn't or use the same untrue excuse time after time as you'll put yourself under the microscope. In addition, Mr Mustard will not assist you if he thinks that you may well have cheated.

If you are a cheat, take the hint and stop now.


N.B. CAFT = Corporate Anti-Fraud Team.

25 April 2022


It is alleged that voters aren’t bothered about Partygate but Mr Mustard begs to differ. The Prime Minister of a Country should be of unimpeachable character and the voters who went through so much suffering when losing loved ones to covid are not going to let this go lightly. More lightly, bins themselves are actually a problem in Barnet.

Given that Mr Mustard can fix PCN problems he often gets asked to help in other areas, if he knows anything at all he will signpost the suggested solution. If he doesn’t, and he often gets asked to help with speeding offences, he just says sorry, no can do.

He got asked about a missing bin. Here is the relevant website information:



Here is the request for help:

I hope this finds you doing well. You have helped me out with PCN notices in the past! Might you perhaps have any ideas about to deal with this? I returned home from being on holiday for two weeks to find that both my black rubbish bins have disappeared-- perhaps someone made off with them. Barnet council tells me (1) they want £58 to provide a replacement bin and (2) they will not collect rubbish from a non-council issued bin (even one of the same design) This strikes me as completely unreasonable and a rip-off!! When I lived in Camden, they just replaced disappeared bins. I would very much appreciate your thoughts on how to deal with this. Thank you very much for your help Be well Donald

Mr Mustard replied quite quickly. 

Dear Donald I think that the council own the wheelie bins, they are not your property so why are you liable if they disappear? You might want to ask a freedom of information question about ownership?* I think the council has a statutory duty to remove your rubbish so I would demand that they do so. You might want to go to your local councillor for help especially as they want your vote at this very moment. 

(*Mr Mustard hadn’t looked at the council website when he wrote.) 

Quick as a flash, Donald contacted Mr Mustard again. 

Three councillors emailed and FoI request sent off. One Councillor already replied! Thank you for your help.

Later the same day, Donald was again in touch (a real page turner this story) 

Even more amazing: Councillor Redacted asked for my number and phoned to say that there is a person around the corner who essentially likes to nick bins. Councillor Redacted (who evidently lives nearby) walked past that person's house this morning and noticed two extra black bins there (which match the description of my missing bins). He said he wanted to explain what was going on. He confirmed that Barnet do own the bins. When pressed to justify the propriety of charging me £58.5 for a new bin, he said they are short of money, that the council want to motivate people to take care of their bins, and that I should think of it as a lease payment! I asked whether I should lock the bins up between collections. He eventually agreed that if the bins were on my property and not on the street, then their disappearance was 'a theft' and that I should not be liable for their loss.

Mr Mustard doesn’t see how the householder can be liable wherever the bins are stolen from, half a metre inside your boundary or five metres outside it having been left that close by the binman, if you are lucky. 

What can you learn from this story?

1 Coming up to an election is a good time to ask your local councillors for help, parties knowing that your vote counts, the only time when it does.

2 You don’t have to pay the council to replace their own property.

3 The council are short of money.

4 You can’t trust the council, they demand you pay to replace a bin which doesn’t belong to you.


Brent Council - continuous ignorance

Back in June 21 Mr Mustard wrote a blog about Brent Council trying to obtain more than one penalty charge when only one was due. They are at it again and trying for the double whammy of penalising a party who was not the vehicle owner at the relevant time. An independent adjudicator stopped their cunning game.


One of the 4 listed dates is incorrect, it should be the 7th according to the data above the text but that isn't important. We know there were 4 PCNs.

The adjudicator hasn't bothered to mention it as she found Ms Parkinson wasn't liable, but only one PCN can be given out for parking on a double yellow. Should the car remain there for days it can be taken to the car pound.

It is a mystery as to why DVLA reported a future keeper as the keeper prior to purchase. Not a usual error from DVLA.

The adjudicator has gently rebuked Brent Council for not allowing time to respond and given that in law they are allowed 56 days i.e. 8 weeks, they could afford to allow 6 weeks for the matter to be clarified by the DVLA although in the event they didn't do so.

There was clearly bags of evidence about the purchase which couldn't all have been invented for the purpose of avoiding 4 PCNs.

Brent lost over £100 in tribunal fees and wasted the motorist's time.

The PCNs themselves can still be chased as against the true owner as the adjudicator did not cancel them, only the Notices to Owner. Mr Mustard expects though that Brent will have given up now.


24 April 2022

Hillingdon post PCNs to safe drivers

Here is a decision by an independent adjudicator at the tribunal who has used his common sense and applied the law to a common situation, one Mr Mustard has often seen in Barnet. There is often congestion outside schools and unless the cameras are set up to show what is ahead of the driver the council should give the benefit of the doubt to the motorist but by doing that they don't rake in any money.


If you are innocent, don't pay at a discount but go to the tribunal. If you are consistent and credible you should win. Even better if you have dashcam footage.

It would be better if your passenger did not alight but that was found not to be the primary reason for stopping in this case, another adjudicator may view things differently.


18 April 2022

OCR ANPR failure

Here are the final 3 letters on a number plate. The very first vehicle registration in the UK was 'A1' so more correctly the plates were registration plates but have been called number plates for all of Mr Mustard's life.

Sorry it is slightly blurred, it had to be blown up a bit, from this.

The vehicle in question was parked in a resident bay with 6 months still remaining on the permit. The owner was surprised to be given a PCN for not having a permit. It is a PCN that is easily defeated as the car in question on the PCN isn't the one that is parked.

Mr Mustard has though made an informal challenge (the one you make in response to a PCN placed on the car) as if he doesn't the owner of the vehicle which has the plate which was erroneously selected will receive a Notice to Owner in a month or so's time and have the bother of dealing with a demand that is wrong (which becomes legally payable if you don't fight it).

The vehicle which was parked ends with the letters NVG but the PCN has been issued to NVC. This is an error which a traffic warden in a hurry could make but given that they supposedly observed the car for 6 minutes (Mr Mustard suspects they didn't, they checked the whole row of parked cars which took 6 minutes) this is a human error which seems unlikely to have been made.

More likely in Mr Mustard's eyes is that the plastic capped screw which holds the number plate on the car, as fitted by the garage, not by some fool trying to turn two ones (11) into a H to make a name, just happens to be over the horizontal bar of the G which makes it, if you don't look carefully, appear more like a C. The back of the car, was clear.

A traffic warden always notes that they checked all windows (for notes and permits) so had to walk past the rear number plate.

Having eliminated the possibility of human error what Mr Mustard thinks is more likely is that the traffic warden was using computerised equipment which reads number plates (Barnet experimented with these but didn't persist, he thinks) and in this case got it wrong. One presumes that the little computer then looks up the vehicle concerned on the DVLA database and it would have disclosed that the vehicle in question was a blue Toyota not the white Toyota (a different model) which was parked there. It is all very well to use technology to assist you in your work but it shouldn't and can't, take the place of a person's judgment. The PCN must contain a statement of what the Traffic Warden believes - if you don't look at the number plate on the equipment and compare it to reality, there is no basis of belief.


16 April 2022

Costs application falls flat

Here is the fairly short tribunal decision:

but much more detail in the costs decision:

Mr Mustard has seen other breakdown challenges rejected for lack of battery maintenance and not only in Barnet. Batteries are now maintenance free until they fail at which point you replace not repair.

Mr Mustard rarely asks for costs but when he does so (and the litigant in person rate is £19 per hour which would be applicable to him as a representative with Solicitors being allowed to claim the usual hourly rate for their location and length of qualification) he breaks down the claim by time spent on each stage; research, drafting the Appeal, attendance at the tribunal, travel etc. 

It was hopelessly optimistic to claim £1,192.50 without any supporting information whatsoever.

Would you let a passer-by jump start your car and then clean up your own battery terminals with baking soda mixed with water or would you let a garage fix the problem which was implied by the garage report not being supplied? Mr Mustard thinks that the Appellant was lucky to even win this case but they did so & that is the end of the matter. Hopefully their car will not break down again.



8 April 2022

Redbridge - can't even hand out PCNs properly


Mr Mustard hasn't been impressed by what he has seen so far of Redbridge's parking department but that does have the benefit of making their tickets easier to overturn.

In this case it looks like the traffic warden is, not to put too fine a point on it, a liar and not even a very good one. If Mr Mustard was representing Mr Yacoob, a complaint would be going in at this juncture.

Should you end up in a situation like this, as well as getting together with the other motorist, you can demand that the council produce all of the transaction history for the handheld equipment of the traffic warden as the system records every key press with an exact time to the second and what was printed and when. That might well have shown, in conjunction with timed photographs that the car had left before the PCN had even been printed?


6 April 2022

Lewisham Council's failure to faciliate a fair hearing costs them


Councils can pull the wool over the eyes of some motorists but trying to do it to an adjudicator, an experienced and qualified lawyer, isn't very bright. The adjudicator lazered in on the weak points of the council's response and cancelled the PCN accordingly.

You will get an independent hearing at london Tribunals, they are not on the side of the council or the motorist but dispensing justice without fear or favour.


5 April 2022

Missing mitigation in Redbridge

Here is a recent tribunal decision. It should be considered in the light of the fact that Redbridge Council were paid for the use of a parking space so had zero financial loss but wanted a windfall gain of £60. Instead they lost c. £30, the tribunal fee.

What Mr Mustard frequently sees in similar cases when you have paid for the wrong vehicle or location, or scratched off the wrong date on a voucher, is that the council use as the basis of their decision about your wrongful act and whether to 'let you off', the facts of the wrongful act i.e. they can't let you off paying for the wrong car because you paid for the wrong car, which is somewhat circular logic.

Mr Mustard thought about this problem and decided upon a particular approach. He would write this:

I made a mistake and paid for the wrong vehicle. I ask you to use your discretion to cancel the PCN and explain the reason(s) why you won’t if that is the case (which I hope it won’t be).

If you only ask for discretion, basically accepting that the contravention occurred and nothing else, then the response should be about whether or not the council will be kind and generous. Put on the spot they will find it much harder to say 'No, we are miserable mean people'.


4 April 2022

Hatton Garden robbery foiled

Mr Gold (not his real name) parked his car in Hatton Garden within the confines of a painted bay that usually had just the one parking sign but on this occasion didn't have one at all. Essentially, due to missing signage, the bay was a free bay (not many of those in central London). If this is a situation that you encounter take a photo of the car which includes in the background the location of the missing sign then you have proof of the facts at the time of parking in case the sign gets replaced whilst you are away from your car.

Mr Gold knew he had not done anything wrong so he made his own informal challenge (as representations against a PCN are known at the first stage). He expected a cancellation as he pointed out that the sign which had been photographed was from the next bay and so not applicable (although by design they are often the same but not necessarily so) and here it is.

The blue shop sign and yellow banner are not above the bay in which the car was parked.

The council's response was designed solely to try and extract £40 from an innocent Mr Gold.

The first line encapsulates the challenge and so that is what the response should focus on.

It doesn't matter if the CEO (traffic warden) observed the vehicle for 5 minutes or 5 hours, no contravention had taken place. Within that 5 minutes the traffic warden had plenty of time to note that the bay did not have a sign and so there was nothing to enforce (had it been a loading bay with Loading Only marked on the road the answer might be different).

The vehicle was not '8 yards from a time plate warning drivers of the restrictions in place' as that sign (which was more than 8 yards away) was in a different place, the next bay along, separated by a yellow line. It was no more relevant than a sign on the opposite side of the road or one in Hatton Cross.

In Hatton Garden the bays are individually numbered with the one the car was in appearing to be 13355 (which a motorist wouldn't know as the sign is missing) and the one which the traffic warden took a photograph of being 13354. If you pay in the wrong bay you get a PCN so the advice to pay for the wrong location number was bad advice. Here is one sample adjudication decision, there are hundreds of them.

The writer of this terrible rejection, whose name Mr Mustard knows but has decided to withhold, creates a non-existent duty on the motorist to make up for council deficiencies by refusing to park without payment and going somewhere else where the council has managed to maintain its signs to park and pay (Mr Mustard doubts they get vandalised much given the private security which operates up and down the road).

When a council employee says they are 'unable' to withdraw (they mean cancel) the penalty charge on this occasion they are writing piffle. If a council can't withdraw a charge when it is point blank wrong, then they never can. What they meant was that they were 'unwilling' to, a council has an absolute power to cancel any PCN including one that is 100% correct and obviously they can and should when 100% wrong as in this case.

A friend of Mr Gold knew of Mr Mustard and so matters moved swiftly on. Now that Mr Mustard has been interested in PCNs for over a decade he has some contacts within management at councils and Camden was one such. This way he can sidestep the restrictive rules about only making representations at certain times and bring to the attention of management a problem which would cause them more trouble if left to fester.

This is what he sent to a senior manager at Camden Council. Polite but pointed.

The manager was quick to act with Mr Mustard getting a response on the same day as his complaint was read. All of sudden, someone who knew what they were about was writing and the content was much more acceptable. No ifs, no buts, 'we were wrong, we will learn'. Lovely to see.

The only thing that bothers Mr Mustard at the end of this is how many other nonsense letters have been sent and led to wrongful payments by the innocent public but at least this one was quickly sorted.


1 April 2022

Will Newham Council relent on this PCN?

Here is the road in which the offending car was parked, probably on a double yellow (Mr Mustard didn't act as representative so doesn't have any photos), but don't judge the driver on that sentence alone.

This road is a parking design nightmare with every man (or woman) for themself and no chance of anyone having a nice green frontage as if you do that there is simply nowhere you can park.

Here is the tribunal adjudication decision, the contravention did occur so the PCN had to be upheld. Towing was a step too far though. The adjudicator did the best he could within the law.

What a day Mr Syed Naqvi had, a 12 hour shift on Xmas Day and a return journey to Hastings. The parking department should be awarding him the freedom of the borough, not taking his car away.

Newham's bank holiday policy is too harsh.

Mr Mustard wondered what the parking department would do in response to the nudge from the Adjudicator, would they decide to keep the money that had to be paid before the car would be released from the pound or would they decide to refund it? Mr Mustard decided on a bit of nudging himself, he emailed the Mayor of Newham. If he gets a reply he will let you know.

If you happen to know Mr Syed Naqvi of Croombs Road in Newham do please thank him for his dedication.