13 January 2023

Wandsworth Council - so slow, so incompetent, so illegal.

Mr Mustard had a PCN in Wandsworth and the council were so slow to respond that they lost by default. The law for parking, since May 22, says this:

Before May 2022 the 2007 Regulations said largely the same except that the requirement at b(iii) did not exist. As it happens Mr Mustard has not yet seen such a letter. It should be automated within the PCN process software as most things which adversely affect the motorist are.
Having seen one failure to send a formal Notice of Rejection such that it would be served, received, within 56 days and thus to allow 2 days in the post be sent by day 54, Mr Mustard decided to ask Wandsworth how often they were failing to comply with Regulations. It is assumed that enforcement authorities will use their powers in a way which is fair in all the circumstances. Mr Mustard sees so many different shenanigans that he is certain that they don't, at least some of the time, and different enforcement authorities have different tricks.

There isn't the same limit for bus lane or moving traffic PCNs for which an adjudicator will generally give a bit more leeway and only time the authority out after 90 days and this is why the request was tightly defined. In addition 'Notice of Rejection' has a defined meaning, it does not refer to the rejection of informal challenges made immediately after receipt of a parking PCN on street. The answer should have been that apart from the one Notice of Rejection of which Mr Mustard was aware there should be no other errors but of course there were. The response excluded the PCN numbers but that wasn't surprising.

So there we are, 378 errors in favour of Wandsworth Council, 378 acts of sending a Notice of Rejection when they were not entitled to.

Who thought it an acceptable timescale to send a Notice of Rejection 238 days after representations were made. A lot happens in people's lives in that time and a motorist could be excused for throwing their paperwork away after 180 days having decided the council has given up.

The thing to do as members of the public can't be expected to know these arcane rules in the same way as Mr Mustard and others experts do is to out your case on PePiPoo here and get expert help for free and to stop cheating enforcement authorities from relying on your lack of knowledge and as there is very little sanction if they break the law.


10 January 2023

Van hire violations - TfL guilty of illegality

When you rent a van and contravene parking or moving traffic rules (stopping in yellow boxes, banned turns etc) liability for the PCN can be transferred from the hire company to you if certain details are on the hire agreement for agreements lasting up to 6 months (less a day).

Transfer for long leases is possible by another method.

Years ago Mr Mustard was introduced to a Barnet based hire company by a mutual acquaintance. Let us call them BV. Mr Mustard only helps BV with their problem PCNs as they employ a person to deal with the routine.

If a PCN can be transferred to the customer then it is. BV routinely provide a copy of the hire agreement as proof that the rules for transfer have been complied with. BV had a little white Euro 6 compliant van. They hired it to SL (hirer #1) for a period of almost 5 months. Here are the hires for those 5 months.

SL stopped with half the van in a red route bus stop on 27 January.

On 28 January TfL asked DVLA for keeper details.

On 29 January DVLA supplied the details of BV.

On 31 January TfL sent a PCN to BV.

On 4 February BV supplied the details of SL.

On 16 February TfL sent a fresh PCN to SL who didn't immediately deal with it but did finally pay up on 4 May.

So far so good. SL returned the van early by arrangement. It was driven after that by a number of law abiding renters who all avoided incurring PCNs. Notable by their mistakes was hirer #6 who made the classic error of using the Rotherhithe Tunnel which now has a van gross vehicle weight limit of 2 tonnes. This has caught out tens of thousands of drivers as there are far too many signs to take in at once.

What should have happened next for each of the April PCNs was that TfL should have asked DVLA for the keeper details on each of those dates and sent BV a PCN for each alleged contravention. This is in accordance with the London Local Authorities and Transport for London 2003 Act.

TfL didn't do that. They sent PCNs to SL who knew they were a mistake. He phoned TfL who told him to make representations. SL did not do so and you can partly understand why, he had returned the van, he knew he was not liable, he probably assumed the errors would be corrected. In August the PCNs had progressed, even though TfL knew they had the wrong man, and they got sent to bailiffs.

It was only in November that Mr Mustard got involved. He complained to TfL and that was when he discovered that TfL keep a secret database of hire agreements and although they ask DVLA to confirm ownership in relation to every single PCN they only use that to check the hire company is still the same and if it is they skip the legal requirement to send a PCN to the hire company, let them make representations and then transfer liability to the hirer, because TfL think they know who the hirer is. That is the big flaw in their 'approach' as TfL blithely call their illegal acts. 

BV tell Mr Mustard that only 60% of hires complete on the pre-planned end date and so TfL's database will often be wrong, as it was in this case. Innocent motorists should not be dragged into the PCN process for other motorists. Having obtained the facts from TfL (they had to be dragged out of them, requiring 3 emails over 6 weeks, silence often a clue that you have hit a painful nerve) Mr Mustard has now made a complaint and pointed out what Mr Mustard considers are data processing breaches and demanded action:

1        Forward this email to the officer responsible for data breaches to consider whether TfL should self report.
2        Forward this email to the officer responsible for ensuring that TfL (and their contractor, believed to be Capita) strictly follow the 2003 Act and follow it in future when issuing PCNs by sending the PCN to the keeper as registered at the DVLA on the relevant date.
3        Delete the entire database of vehicles on hire or at least stop adding to or referring to it.
4        Cancel the five PCNs which have been illegally sent to an innocent party.
5        Apologise to both BV and SL and make offers of compensation.

BV have been deprived of five £18 PCN processing fees which hirer #6 should have paid.

Mr Mustard will update you when he gets a response.

In the meantime Mr Mustard wonders if any other enforcement authority in London has decided upon the same wizard wheeze to save time and postage. If you are reading this, you work at a council in London and you have an illegal database like TfL (or heaven forfend you all share one) Mr Mustard suggests you run for the hills as he is coming for you.