29 June 2022

Hackney Council boxing themselves in

Mr Mustard's attention was drawn to a decision of the independent adjudicator at London Tribunals when they ruled on a PCN issued to Hackney Council by Transport for London, so on a red route road. He can't believe he hasn't told you about this case before so if he has, sorry, and if he hasn't enjoy, it is a corker.

This is a quite short yellow box which even a not very competent driver ought to be able to avoid and the contravention occurred during the hours of daylight so no excuse there.

The corker of an excuse is that the council which employed the hapless driver had introduced 'traffic management measures' for which read low traffic neighbourhoods which stop alternative routes through residential areas or streets with schools in and make the traffic follow main roads until the final part of their journey. As the adjudicator notes Hackney Council were robustly defending these, Hackney's LTNs were the subject of judicial review, which they won in September 2021.

Attachments greater than 10mb get stripped off emails sent to the tribunal (Mr Mustard thought that no attachments could be added so he always inserts images into emails in line but has been corrected and so now does send small attachments).

Mr Mustard also happened to look at the whatdotheyknow website and found this disclosure, one that shows that Hackney Council didn't educate its own drivers very well about LTNs.

These 39 PCNs were a monumental waste of time as the money goes from the left trouser pocket of the council to the right hand one. As a moving traffic PCN is for £130 and can be paid promptly at £65 the council could or should have collected £2,535 from itself, perhaps some recipients fought the council i.e. the council was in both the blue and the red corner, and knocked itself out.
Sometimes one council penalises a different one. In this case a different Hackney council vehicle driver got caught in Waltham Forest, Hackney lost. The excuse was equally risible, the box wasn't 'necessary' and was counter-productive - to what wasn't argued.

Hackney did better against TfL on the next occasion because they were cleaning graffiti. It is a bit rich of an enforcement authority (TfL) to ask for evidence of something and then say they won't take account of it, why waste everyone's time?


24 June 2022

Barnet Council - automation gone wrong - charge certificates

Mr Mustard mostly reads decisions about Barnet Council at London Tribunals the home of independent PCN adjudicators.
This isn't the first time that he has seen the premature issue of a Charge Certificate, which increases the PCN value by 50% (from £130 to £195) and contains dire warnings about the county court, bailiffs and extra charges if you fail to act.
The problem with charge certificates is automated progression of PCNs. Everything possible to push a PCN forward through the process is taken without any human input whereas steps taken by motorists, such as starting an Appeal at the tribunal, rely on manual processing to freeze the process. The computer marches on relentlessly, an oversight or staff shortage in manual handling means that mistakes are made and illegal demands sent.


Accepting that errors can occur, even in the best run workplaces, it is what you do next that matters. A motorist who was unaware of the proper procedure and has the philosophy that a council doesn't get things wrong (however bizarre that thinking should be nowadays) may have been bullied into paying up at an inflated price and cancelling their Appeal. 

Luckily this motorist is made of sterner stuff. The area where Barnet Council could improve is that if they make this error they simply leave it until the hearing for the adjudicator to sort out, they may even get away without the error being noticed. The motorist is left worrying, in this case, for 10 days about the possibility of an increased financial loss.

Mr Mustard was brought up to admit to error. What Barnet Council should do when they make such an error is to contact the motorist without delay, apologise and tell the motorist that they have been put back to the correct place in the process. If what has taken place would lead to an adjudicator cancelling a PCN the council themselves should take that step.

Parking departments generally lack good manners.


23 June 2022

Newham Council - an inconvenient truth - never was the owner.

Mr Mustard's eye wanders when he looks at the daily register of decisions by independent adjudicators at London Tribunals and when he sees multiple entries he is tempted to click through.


When you click through you get the outline data about the vehicle and the alleged contravention and the text of the decision.

It is also possible to look at the excise duty and MOT status of the vehicle on the DVLA website. This vehicle has possibly been scrapped.

It is impossible to prove a negative, that you didn't own a particular vehicle as you will not have paid for it, insured it, taxed it, driven it etc. Anyone can register a vehicle, if they so desire, in your name.

What Mr Mustard doesn't get is two things.

The first is why PCNs from 2016 are only now reaching the tribunal, that alone is good cause for cancellation as the facts of the parking (if there were any) cannot be recalled from so long ago and so there is the risk of unfairness.

The second is why Newham Council didn't believe Mr Ersoy when he has clearly been the victim of identity theft and has a huge file of other PCNs which were cancelled by other enforcement authorities as none of them have reached the tribunal.

(Never having been the owner of a vehicle is a standard ground of representation. The registered keeper isn't, by law, the owner, that is a rebuttable presumption and once you rebut it the council have to prove you were the owner and they have zero proof.)

Newham's behaviour wouldn't be dictated by the lure of revenue of £520 would it? Yes, probably and sadly it would.


Haringey Council - verification code error

If you receive a PCN which you contest with the council you will, perhaps after 2 challenges but sometimes only one is necessary, it all depends upon the legislative process, receive a Notice of Rejection. That opens the door for a period of 28 days to a hearing with an independent adjudicator at London Tribunals.

Here is the rejection of the first challenge, known as the informal one, made in response to a PCN placed on a car.

Time moved on and then, more than 56 days after the formal representations were made, the formal Notice of Rejection was issued.(That itself was a blunder as for parking PCNs the Notice of Rejection must be served within 56 days so Mr Mustard was always going to win at the tribunal, Haringey threw the towel in the day before the hearing).

The verification code is, at least for the first 3 digits, easy to decipher. To get the first two digits simply deduct the date of the month from 100, so a letter of 2 May gives the number 98. The third digit is the number of the month of the year rendered as the corresponding letter of the alphabet if A = 1 and B = 2 , so in this case the code should have been 98E??? not 76L112.

Naturally the London Tribunals computer knows that 76L112 is an out of date code so it lets you enter the details of your Appeal but doesn't count it as a valid Appeal, it has to be checked with the council for validity. 

Given that you cannot phone Haringey Council parking department you can't fix this problem easily with a 2 minute phone call. You have to phone the tribunal who won't generally take your word for it but will instead contact Haringey Council.

Mr Mustard wouldn't have written about this, thinking it was a one off error but a second wrong code has landed in his inbox (despite not fighting many Haringey PCNs or at all at the moment due to cycling 50% of the time) and so Mr Mustard thinks there is a systemic error that the public need to know about.

You have already worked out that the code should have started with 83E and that 88C will be rejecting as appearing to be a Notice from 12 March 22 and the 28 days in which to Appeal would be long gone.

If you have such a problem please email mrmustard@zoho.com

To get around the problem if you are in receipt of a printed Notice of Appeal form you can post it to the Nottingham address and include a copy of the Notice of Rejection and point out the verification code error.



21 June 2022

Justice for (not of) Solomon

One would think by now that the law about continuous contravention would be clear to every enforcement authority in London but no, word hasn't gone as far out as Redbridge, who gave Solomon's car a PCN on 20, 22, 26, 29, 30 October and 2 November for being parked partially on the pavement. A review of the location in question, Chadwell Avenue, RM6 shows this to be completely standard.

Mr Solomon Adegun having left 2 wheels on the footway, just like everyone else in that area, had the misfortune to be selected to be a bad example by Redbridge Council and was duly issued with 6 PCNs.
Having made formal representations against all 6 PCNs to Redbridge Council, who rejected them all, the heinous individuals, hoping in the process to grab £660 out of Solomon's wallet. Applying the justice of Solomon would have seen them receive £330 but that was not to be. The independent adjudicator correctly identified that the car had not moved and that Redbridge were trying to make a super profit of £550. The adjudicator stopped the nonsense, cancelled 5 of the PCNs 6 of which which cost the council c. £180 in tribunal fees and awarded them £110 so they went home losing money.

Should you know Mr Solomon Adegun, who might live in Chadwell Avenue RM6, do please put him in touch with Mr Mustard as he would like to see a photo showing how far on the pavement the car was, possibly not far, or if Solomon was singled out for special treatment. Mr Mustard can be emailed at mrmustard@zoho.com


20 June 2022

Beastly in Bexley to the elderly

An independent adjudicator stopped the rotten treatment.

This is not the way that any council should treat an octogenarian, even one who clearly still has all of his faculties and fighting spirit, by rejecting representations and forcing him on a personal trip to Chancery Lane whilst covid still rages.

Mr Mustard salutes you, Mr Devine.


16 June 2022

Hackney - illegal pursuit of PCNs

Back in November 2021 Mr Mustard won an Appeal at London Tribunals that neutralised the Traffic Management Order prohibiting motor vehicles at a certain point in Mount Pleasant Lane - as the certain point which Hackney Council described couldn't possibly exist.

It is the case that decisions by independent adjudicators at London Tribunals don't set precedents, an adjudicator being able to decide one case one way and the next case, apparently the same, a different way. This is because cases turn on little factual nuances. However, in a situation whereby an Adjudicator has found a fundamental and clear flaw in a traffic order it is likely that the decision to cancel a PCN will be followed by other adjudicators. The odd thing though is that unless the motorist who got the PCN challenges the PCN on the grounds that the Traffic Order is invalid then the adjudicator, who probably decides 100 cases a week all over London and so won't remember a case he decided weeks or months ago, won't do what Mr Mustard did and look really closely at the description within the traffic order and a map and get his measuring tape out.

The adjudicator decides Appeals based upon the representations and arguments which have been made, not normally adding any of his own, being independent after all.

Here is the decision that must have put Hackney Council into a panic.

A council having discovered that a traffic order is effectively invalid should take the appropriate administrative steps to draw up a new order, correctly stating the location, and not take any further action against people who have outstanding PCNs. In addition, having realised that they have issued thousands of invalid PCNs they should proactively refund everyone affected. That isn't, unsurprisingly, what they did as PCNs are all about the money. Hackney Council told the local paper that everything was hunky dory, and unless the motorist challenged the validity of the traffic order, Hackney Council would present what they knew was an invalid traffic order to the adjudicator. Mr Mustard knows of two cases where the traffic order was challenged as part of the Appeal and Hackney Council quietly folded their hand on those two cases.

Mr Mustard also knows, as the register is a public document, of all these people who fought their PCNs in front of an indepndent adjudicator at London Tribunals and lost, because Hackney Council submitted as evidence a traffic order which they know does not have an enforceable location of contravention stated. This was dishonest.

Mr Mustard has a friend who is a retired lawyer and he now works pro bono (for free) for people who have been the subject of injustice. We can easily locate the school and the business but the other listed victims could live anywhere, although they most probably live in London. Mr Mustard needs your help to track them down. Please, if you know any of the people listed above, please show them this blog post and get them to click on this link for the story in the Hackney Gazette, and ask them to email mrmustard@zoho.com so that their details can be passed to the solicitor who will try and get them their money back.


13 June 2022

Stop the rot

Mr Mustard expects that most drivers/residents will know the Golders Green station area as will many coach travellers as it is a stop on some long distance National Express journeys (e.g. Manchester to London). Here is an aerial view

Mr Mustard didn't realise when he snipped the image but there is a handily placed bus to demonstrate bus scale, Mr Mustard having drawn a line to show a gap of 10.9m into which a bus is meant to fit at the lights if going south down the Finchley Road and navigating around the island with the clock on it.

Why is Mr Mustard writing about this subject? It is because of this tribunal decision.

Mr Mustard looked up the coach in question to find it is a Mercedes Benz Tourismo and longer than the gap between the traffic lights and the yellow box it was going over.

Thus, as Mr Thacker said, it is impossible to not overhang the yellow box.

As the adjudicator pointed out the stop was due to red traffic lights not due to a stationary vehicle so absolutely no contravention had occurred and this behaviour is, in the words of regular reader Fraser 'ruthless, venal and rapacious' and Mr Mustard would add stupid and procedurally unfair.

It is hard enough to safely drive a coach through London especially around busy junctions without having to worry if you might get wrongly ticketed by some numpty at NSL who doesn't know the rules and thinks that because the computer controlled cctv has selected this as a possible contravention, that it must be so. In fact, two people are meant to watch the cctv extracts before pressing the PCN button but Mr Mustard suspects that the task is either not being performed or not diligently or with any real thought.

Mr Mustard is going to send this case to the relevant labour councillor who can start to bring some common sense and some law abiding behaviour to the parking / PCN department.

The end (or at least perhaps the beginning of it for revenue raising).