28 October 2022

Times stands still in Greenwich


This is a follow on blog to this one.

The above is a standard report called 'case history' and is clearly a chronological list of the main events. As you can see from the entry dated 23/11/2011 the motorist (in the form of Mr Mustard) was quick to make their first challenge, it is known as the 'informal challenge'. Mr Mustard keeps an eye on the on line PCN balance and checked it 16 times between 28 November and 8 April. On 8 April he noticed that the balance had reverted from £130 to £65 so he knew a letter of rejection was on the way. On that date he told the motorist that the end stop date for receipt of a Notice to Owner was 21 May.
As is now evident Greenwich had a back log on informal challenges (not Appeals, they are to adjudicators). If a formal representation is not responded to within 56 days a council is deemed to have accepted it but that rule does not apply to informal challenges (an informal challenge is one made against a PCN issued on street and a formal representation responds to a Notice to Owner or postal PCN).

Mr Mustard made a combined Freedom of Information and Subject Access request on 27 April and that was probably the event which woke Greenwich from its slumbers as shortly afterwards they asked DVLA for the keeper's details using a VQ4 request (these are done by computer). Now, it isn't clear whether or not the 1st VQ4 was actually sent nor how DVLA count 6 months (they may stop all November requests on 1 May?) but for whatever reason Greenwich didn't get the information they sought.
Had Greenwich issued a PCN after so long Mr Mustard would have relied on a lack of 'reasonable expedition' and hence unfairness as the Statutory Guidance of the Secretary of State says this:

That aside, on 26 May Greenwich Council decided to send a second 1st VQ4 request to DVLA. Clearly, Greenwich don't have a mechanism in place to ensure that they scrupulously follow parking law and they were also going to breach data protection fair processing rules and breach their KADOE (Keeper at date of event) contract with DVLA as 6 months had expired on 21 May (possibly 20th but it depends how you count).

Having failed to obtain keeper details Greenwich Council threw in the towel, about the only sensible thing they had done.

As it turns out, DVLA have built in a mechanism which prevents any council from obtaining information to which they are not entitled.

Whilst it is good that the DVLA don't release data out of contract, councils like Greenwich should be learning from their mistakes and should have programmed their software not to ask in the first place.

The DVLA aren't going to find wrongdoing unless they look out for it. They could improve their systems in this regard.


27 October 2022

A little parking knowledge is a dangerous thing


This is the road in question Argyle Road. It is a road in which any encroachment at all onto the pavement is going to cause a problem for prams and pushchairs, wheelchair users, powered or pushed, the blind, parents with children in hand etc
The council have solved the perceived problem of a lack of space by letting motorists take up some of the space which the council has clearly decided, when the road was created, to be the province of pedestrians, the pavement. Perhaps the solution is to be brave and maintain that distinction, it isn't as if the pavement is excessively wide. If there were no parked cars there would be adequate room for pedestrians etc. The council could offer free dropped kerbs if the frontages were paved in line with sustainable drainage systems so flooding problems aren't created by lots of concrete. There are other solutions of course, like car clubs and bicycles. It is only 200m to Hounslow railway station, does everyone actually need their car? Since this road was constructed cars have got way bigger and become larger than the infrastructure can support.
All that apart, the general rule in Greater London is that you should stay off the pavement unless there are marked bays. This shouldn't be a surprise to a driver as it is in the Highway code, you know, that guide you haven't read since you passed your driving test.

You would think that a company which makes its money from penalising people for going wrong in car parks (allegedly) might know a little about the law when it comes to the public highway but apparently not. Mr Mustard reads all the tribunal decisions each morning and odd cases catch his eye, like this one:

Once Mr Mustard had stopped laughing at this company being on the receiving end (if you can't take it don't dish it out) he checked back and found two other cases for them, which went back a few years.

An example of arrogant entitlement. Not driving a bus, stay off the bus stop, simples.

The idea in life is to learn from your errors. Clearly a bit slow at PPS.


unlucky parking suspension

A tribunal decision which went the wrong way for the motorist but the penalty and tow fee may or may not have been refunded.

A council does not have to tow you and make £200, it can relocate you for nothing which some would call 'customer service'.


26 October 2022

Schools not exempt from School keep clear markings

From the PCN tribunal

Note that like double yellow lines the restriction is generally held by adjudicators to extend to the middle of the road.

Note also that schools don't 'own' the keep clear markings outside their school (even though some like to put illegal extra signs on the road) and so can't give themselves or anyone else permission to stop on the zig zags.

Note that a council doesn't care who pays, they'll happily shift money out of the education budget into the parking one.


25 October 2022

Keep in touch if you struggle to pay

Here is the location in question, the same signs are back to back so this makes a virtual barrier, one the council makes a mint from by not installing rising bollards but installing a camera instead.

Mr X, whose identity Mr Mustard is at pains to hide and thus he has edited the place descriptions and removed small pieces of other information in the representation made to Islington Council but you still have the gist of the plea for mitigation - health and financial problems.


That was a considered request for clemency coupled with the promise of future compliance which is what councils claim to be their aim, not revenue raising. Mercy came there none.

A templated start to the rejection, the gap after 'letter' should probably say 'of dd/mm/yyyy' and besides, it was an email.

Not 100% accurate as relevant permit holders are allowed through.

The email has now been described as a letter and this paragragh was clearly a bespoke one. Some boroughs do let all blue badge holders through these restrictions as this restriction means resident blue badge holders can leave through the square but the wider group of disabled people can't do so, they will have to go around, if they know the way. If you do have genuine business on the other side of the barrier, perhaps a visit to your physio who lives and works there, it would be helpful if diversion signs were posted. AMW permits are issued to blue badge holders who live within:


Pish, this is over egging the danger. Police cars, ambulances, fire engines can all hell through, dustbin lorries can rumble through, cyclists should abound, blue badge residents will be driving there. Any motorist can drive into Lloyd Square turn around and leave again, there are parking bays on all four sides. Mr Mustard recommends you stick to the pavement if on foot.

The London Gazette, the Official Public Record of traffic orders, says the order is experimental and recent:

This is the most extraordinary statement which Mr Mustard has ever seen within a Notice of Rejection, a document which must have certain statutory content and then 'may contain such other information as the enforcing authority consider appropriate'. What is appropriate about saying the motorist should 'keep in touch'

Is this meant to be a friendly gesture but why? as the writer (whose name Mr Mustard is not releasing) has the power to cancel the PCN and has not done so. It isn't as if the stated illnesses are likely to change within the 28 day deadline or that Universal Credit or PiP payments will skyrocket.

Mr Mustard thinks that we may have run over a parking officer with a conscience and perhaps they didn't like the message their boss told them to write so decided to soften it a bit but without a clear indication of Islington's policy for the impecunious then these rather odd words about keeping in touch are pointless. Islington Council didn't have a policy on the exercise of discretion when Mr Mustard asked them a year ago.

Mr Mustard has accepted the invitation to start an Appeal to the independent adjudicator for which he has a technical argument which he will tell you later, if it works.

Finally, before you say the driver is an idiot who doesn't know his road signs, we are all conditioned by what we see. If you shop at Sainsburys in North Finchley and travel there by car, you have, for years, been driving into Ravensdale Avenue from the High Road as that is the only way you can turn into the supermarket car park. Look out of your windscreen and what do you see?

That is correct, no motor vehicle should enter Ravensdale Avenue, the plate below is an error, not being a permitted variant, the round sign already banning all vehicles, whether above or below the stated weight. No-one who lives in this street should be driving home. The same sign, without the weight plate, is at the other end of the road so zero traffic should enter from the eastern end. If Barnet Council can't even keep their signs correct, what chance the motoring public especially if you have entered Ravensdale Avenue a hundred times without receiving a penalty charge notice.


18 October 2022

The right Royal Borough of Greenwich


Last November Mr Mustard was asked to help contest a PCN issued for being on a single yellow line in Burnley St in Greenwich. You will note the absence of a time plate adjacent to the yellow line after which you should take the hint that you are probably in a CPZ (controlled parking zone). You will have driven past a zone entry sign somewhere, which sets the rules.

Mr Mustard sometimes writes very short challenges, this one, sent in November 21 said:

'The restriction was not communicated by adequate signage'.

It was in April 22 that the response came. Mr Mustard now knows that there was a backlog in responding to informal challenges at that time in Greenwich. Formal representations, made in response to the Notice to Owner, have to be responded to within 56 days otherwise the council has to cancel.

By contrast, the informal rejection was long.

Note that twice the recipient is told that if they don't pay now the discount will be gone. Well, Mr Mustard doesn't care about that as he doesn't intend that the motorist should pay anything in this case. Not taking the 'issue' (why not say PCN?) through the Appeals process loses the opportunity to pay zero. It was, naturally, a templated response, written using the help of 'LetterSmarti' per Greenwich's records. Mr Mustard read it very carefully and then asked some questions. Here they are, with answers and some further comment by Mr Mustard.

This response is patent nonsense. Saying the signage is inadequate is a fundamental challenge to the validity of the PCN, it isn't a request to be let off.

As the challenge made was about signage one would have thought the council would be checking what notes were made about signage. Mr Mustard has those notes which include 'Greenwich Town Centre CPZ' but the FOI response didn't tell him that. It is actually CPZ 'G' in any event.

Mr Mustard sees councils who falsely regret they haven't cancelled a PCN  or who empathise when they are doing the exact opposite. They should be banned from such annoying false utterances.


A precise and correct response, so rare.

This response was, to put it politely, patent nonsese. The PCN was for being 'Parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours' which means you were alleged to be on a single or double yellow line without a loading restriction (as otherwise the PCN would refer to loading/unloading). At this point a smart council would realise they are facing a worthy opponent who is going to identify all their errors and use them. Greenwich Council aren't smart.

As for the attempt to semantically explain away the difference between a restriction and a prohibition on loading, there is only one sort of traffic order which ever applies to loading/unloading which is to ban it and that is covered by both supposedly distinct words. This part of the FOI response was written by a weasel.

Now this was thoroughly unhelpful. 'Kerbside' which kerb? there are lots of them in Greenwich. Here is one example which Mr Mustard found without wasting any shoe leather:

The sign, which is at the edge of the Greenwich Town Centre CPZ does not have any loading restriction marked upon it and that is probably why the 'as above' non answer was given.

Finally, Greenwich have to admit they made an error. If you make an error that will be a penalty of £130, if Greenwich council make one it makes no material difference. Oh yes it does as the response, which has a financial impact, was materially wrong. One can only conclude that either LetterSmarti or the writer isn't very smart. At this point a sensible parking officer would have cancelled the PCN but no, they can't do that, they will spend the rest of the day crying into their tea if they cancel something, they are never wrong, except they are!

By the way, is is 900m from the single yellow line to the applicable sign. CPZs need to go, every line should have a clear adjacent sign.

Oh dear, another embarrassing response because the real answer, which is clear for us all to see, is zero repeater plates.

Hard to answer other than in the affirmative that there are no signs at the location as there aren't any.

After giving Greenwich Council plenty of reasons to cancel, Mr Mustard opened the door for them to do so. They did not walk through it which of course meant they were in for a longer fight as Mr Mustard was confident that he would prevail at the independent tribunal as he had other aces in his hand. 

Greenwich Council had just dealt Mr Mustard an extra card. The PCN was issued on street on 21 November 2021. The legislation says that a Notice to Owner must be issued within 6 months which would be 21 May 2022. Greenwich Council were offering to break the law. Mr Mustard smiled and put the file away and waited for time to pass. The PCN has now been cancelled which will be a story for another day, it does concern the 6 months but he doesn't think Greenwich have realised their error yet.

The end.