28 June 2017

School zig zags - do your 3 point turn somewhere else

The above is the council's justification for school zig zags which have in the main been largely respected by the driving public with only 475 PCN having been issued up until May 17.

Mr Mustard wonders why a location, such as at the school in St Joseph's Grove in Hendon (right behind the town hall as it happens) therefore has restricted hours of 8.30am to 4.30pm whereas other schools have 2 or 3 sets of times, corresponding to the likely arrival and leaving times and possibly lunch times for a secondary school if lots of children are likely to be heading out of school. He can't see a need for a restriction at 11am for example.

Mr Mustard's client was unlucky. He was driving along and then realised he needed to go the other way, he pulled up on the zig zags to use the adjoining piece of road to reverse into and at that very moment another car came along and made it dangerous to continue with the manoeuvre so he waited, which made his stop a few seconds long and then the computer controlled cctv nabbed him. You can watch it here




Mr Mustard didn't think that was cricket so yesterday he wrote to parking management as follows, and he eagerly awaits their reply:

If you watch the cctv the car stops in order to reverse into the side turning and then go the other way. This is a perfectly reasonable manoeuvre but one which your camera picked up and then presumably a human being authorised the issue of a PCN. It is necessary to stop in order to reverse direction and normally it would be for a trivial time (de minimis) but in this case the driver very considerately stopped to avoid an accident as a car was approaching and then he reversed a few seconds later.

I agree that technically the vehicle stopped and that is a contravention but it is not the mischief that the zig zags are aimed at, which is parents/guardians/etc dropping off or collecting their children. There isn't a child in the cctv anywhere. I question the need for all day enforcement.

I think this is an unfair PCN and accordingly should be cancelled.

They might or they might not cancel, we'll see. If not, an adjudicator will get to decide the matter later on.

You, dear reader, will learn from this though, won't you?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

27 June 2017

Grenfell Tower

Mr Mustard is nothing if not a practical soul and he didn't want any further misery (such as a bailiff taking away the only remaining asset of a survivor of the fire because the statutory notices didn't reach the vehicle owner) heaped on the survivors so he emailed a contact at London Councils, the umbrella body for councils in London, as follows:

I thought it would be a welcome relief for people who have been through a horrific experience if every London enforcement authority were to have a look through its PCN files and cancel every PCN where Grenfell Tower was the DVLA registered address.

I would do it for humanitarian reasons if it were me but the PR would do the cause of council parking and traffic enforcement no harm at all as it gets battered when things go wrong (often by me!) and councils could show that they don't just care about the money.

If some sort of concession is already being discussed do please let me know.

If you are not the best man to deal with this email, please pass it on to whoever is, within London Councils
.

It wasn't long before a reply came:

Thank you for your email.

I can confirm that we have been liaising with RBKC (Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea) and a message regarding the cancellation of outstanding PCNs, warrants etc. for Grenfell Tower has been sent to all London boroughs. I can confirm that this has been met with a positive response.

I can also confirm that following discussions that RBKC have had with DVLA, the DVLA has made the decision to suppress the vehicle record for any vehicles identified as being registered to the two post codes for Grenfell Tower. As a result of this, where a vehicle keeper enquiry has been submitted on one of these vehicles (and hopefully this will not happen), the DVLA will only provide a notification letter that the vehicle is registered to this address but no keeper details will be provided.

London Councils agree that those impacted by the terrible events at Grenfell Tower do not need the added worry and burden of parking and traffic fines and we are all trying to ensure that this will not happen.

Mr Mustard had also been in touch with Royal Mail on twitter and they DM'd him their response but it is now available publicly:


Mr Mustard is quick to criticise when things are wrong but is pleased to see that, after the initial emergency response, minds were turned to possible repercussions. 

To RKBC, London Councils, Royal Mail & DVLA in particular, he says 'well done'.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

25 June 2017

Brent's blind bailiff

21 June - the view from Marina's flat
So here is Marina's car just after it has been clamped by the bailiff. This is private property for which a permit is required so the bailiff is trespassing, not attractive to break the law whilst trying to enforce it? Sadly the warden for the private parking company did not happen along.

Now it is the case that Marina did, due to some personal events in her life, fail to fully contest a PCN from Brent Council at Bodiam Way which people are always getting wrong. This is the spot.

Mr Mustard would probably have beaten the PCN but that is academic now, you become guilty by default if you miss a deadline.

Mr Mustard visited Marina on 3 June to discuss something else. He saw that the blue badge was on display in her car. He told her to always leave the blue badge on display and she said it always was. This is why, it makes the car exempt goods which a bailiff cannot take.


So after the bailiff James Alexander March had clamped the car Mr Mustard emailed his office, the firm of Newlyn, as he didn't have the bailiff's mobile. This is what he wrote.


Mr Mustard thought that quite quickly Newlyn would realise the game was up and remove the clamp, but no, this is part of their response.

Mr March has confirmed that as the vehicle was parked in a disabled bay he checked the vehicle to see if a Blue Badge was present, which it was not.

Flip, thought Mr Mustard the bailiff cannot see, as there is a blue blob in the windscreen which could well be a blue badge and the associated clock, the very ones which were there when he himself saw the car earlier in the month.

The bailiff came back to the premises on 23 June at which time he had a second opportunity to see the blue badge. No, he still can't see it apparently, as the clamp remained on the car.

Today Mr Mustard popped to have a look at the clamp for himself, and has taken a video. If the bailiff returns now he cannot fail to see the blue badge, if he can see and if he looks and once he sees it he must unclamp the car, but will he?



Solicitors have now been instructed and doubtless the parking manager of the London Borough of Brent will have to decide whether there is a blue badge in the car or not and instruct his bailiff accordingly. It is the council who are responsible for the actions of their bailiff (in a similar case a couple of years ago at Barnet the clamp was removed as soon as Mr Mustard brought the matter to the attention of management but Brent are, in Mr Mustard's experience, and based upon certain staff he has come across, slippery). It isn't denied that there is a debt but you can't ignore the law as a bailiff and use the existence of a debt as justification. Bailiffs have got draconian powers, they must use them lawfully.

Mr Mustard doesn't really think the bailiff is physically blind, but he is being wilfully blind.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Mr Mustard likes to fix problems before they are problems, by disposing of the PCN before it can be given to a bailiff. He doesn't have the time to deal with bailiffs as well as everything else and believes that prevention is better than cure.

The best place for bailiff advice is either your local free law centre or http://bailiffadviceonline.co.uk/

Update 27 June some time after 9am

Next step is, probably, a complaint to Brent Council as they are responsible for their bailiff's action.

Here is the bailiff's car as he removed the clamp. He is parked on private land which is for residents with permits only. He is a trespasser.

 

 

23 June 2017

Seven to One

OK, this is 15 but you get the idea
It is the norm for new Appeals to be listed at the tribunal 4 weeks after you submit the Notice of Appeal form. For administrative convenience all of Mr Mustard's cases are listed together so that they can be disposed of with the minimum amount of the tribunal's, and Mr Mustard's time, being taken. It is Mr Mustard's duty, as a professional lay representative (an oxymoron) to assist the tribunal to come to the just decision. Of course, both sides will stress the positive parts of their case and play down the negative aspects but the adjudicator knows and levels up the playing field. If the enforcement authority do not appear he tests arguments they would have made.

Four weeks ago Mr Mustard submitted 7 new Appeals all together in a batch, 2 for TfL and 5 for Barnet Council. A week before if he hasn't received an evidence bundle Mr Mustard goes looking for it and checks the balance on the council computer to see if it has gone to zero. Usually one or two cases get discontinued by enforcement authorities who are either too busy to prepare their case or recognise that it is hopeless, although if that is the reason they should have thrown in the towel at an earlier stage rather than incur a £30 tribunal fee.

Although Mr Mustard had two evidence packs to hand, he ended up with only one live hearing (and a Review, i.e. a second go at the cherry which Mr Mustard had asked for so was always going to go ahead, although he did not get granted a Review in the end, but that is a story for another day).

So here are Mr Mustard's thoughts on the 7 cases.

PCN1

Barnet Council had forgotten to re-offer the 50% discount in response to a challenge made to the PCN on day 14. That was a nailed on win so the council sensibly cancelled the PCN. Just so you know, if a PCN is issued on 10 June, day 14 is 23 June i.e. add 13 not 14 as the day of issue is day 1.

PCN2

The motorist had driven away the instant he saw the traffic warden and had been sent a PCN in the post. It was fairly certain that the traffic warden would have been held to have only observed and not to have started preparing a PCN. The council cancelled.

PCN3

The motorist had paid but not displayed. The alleged contravention was that he had failed to pay. That was an arguable point but the council decided to cancel.

PCN4

TfL issued a PCN which had a poor description of the location where the PCN was issued. If you do not get the PCN and have to rely on a document which comes in the post then the PCN falls at the first hurdle for lack of clarity. TfL sensibly cancelled when the Appeal was logged. They often do. They have of course tried it on earlier by rejecting the identical representations.

PCN5

TfL had probably had the PCN back in the post undelivered, a fact which they didn't want aired in public, so they cancelled.

PCN6

In this case Barnet Council had made a blunder within their evidence pack, no wonder when they can run to 100 pages, and once that was pointed out to management they cancelled the PCN. Fair play to them.

PCN7

The only case to actually have a hearing. It concerned a motorist turning right out of Oak Grove into Cricklewood Lane. The analysis of the actual Regulations about when you can turn right into a box junction are interesting and Mr Mustard did not have his copy of them to hand so couldn't argue the point, he will have another go on another day:

The PCN was cancelled though because within the Notice of Rejection it does not (currently) say that the tribunal may allow more than 28 days to make your Appeal if there is a good reason (like being hospitalised perhaps) even though it does say that in the notes which come with the letter. Mr Mustard still recommends that you make your Appeal in good time and if you use the on line system it only takes 5 minutes. 

Within the 28 days either pay up or Appeal, do not do nothing as that costs you 50%

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

22 June 2017

It takes 18 months for Ealing Council to do the right thing

The above image is Ealing Council's reverse date order log of all events for one PCN. If you look at the seventh line from the bottom you will see that it is a statutory document which has been returned. The only document issued at that stage was a postal PCN for a bus lane contravention. That should signal a pause in the process whilst the council establishes why the document came back (somewhere between the DVLA and Ealing Council the address got mangled, it was correctly recorded at DVLA). Did it stop the process? did it hell as like. The very next day the council issued the Enforcement Notice (not to be confused with a Notice of Enforcement) which is the bus lane equivalent of a parking Notice to Owner. From 15 October onwards every action taken by Ealing Council was ultra vires, 'beyond their powers', or just plain illegal to you and me, as well as immoral but council parking departments are often a moral free zone.

Mr Mustard's chronology in forward date order is easier to follow:

Following the filing of a witness statement, the council get the chance to reconsider their position and cancel, the smart choice, or to refer the matter to the tribunal. They chose the latter and then got hit with one of Mr Mustard's skeleton arguments, the type of argument which a certain adjudicator has said looks nothing like a skeleton, it being more than bare bones:


At this point many councils recognise they are in for a battle and gracefully withdraw, especially as failure looked inevitable on the PCN service point alone, but no, Ealing Council let the matter go to a hearing. Mr Mustard had 6 hearings that day and didn't expect that disposing of Ealing would slow him down much. The Adjudicator was more than fair to Ealing, who had been given 7 days notice of the skeleton argument so had ample time to respond to it, and he asked them to clarify two points which was too much for Ealing. Finally after 18 months of almost relentless pursuit (a bit of a hiatus in the middle) they withdrew the Appeal which automatically means the cancellation of the PCN.

Late is usually regarded as within 4 days of the hearing.

What a palaver, one which Mr Mustard is never defeated by, he simply reacts properly and in time to every piece of paper.

Ealing Council were bang out of order in continuing to escalate the case after the return of the postal PCN. Just looking at the file at that time would have revealed the address error and they could & should have sent a fresh PCN to the correct address or cancelled (a fresh PCN might have been out of time but that isn't the question today). The way they were headed the matter would have been with the bailiff before long and bailiffs don't listen to not had the PCN stories, they just take your car (generally speaking). Ealing Council are guilty, in Mr Mustard's view, of an abuse of process. What a pity there isn't a regular external audit scheme to check that they are not misusing their powers.

Councils have more power than they can be trusted with.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

21 June 2017

Haringey Council - double vision

A friend, Mr P, came to see Mr Mustard today and he brought with him the above PCNs.

Mr P, not the best man for dealing with paperwork but he at least keeps it all, has no idea how he came to have two identical original print PCNs.

Mr Mustard has never seen this before so he has no idea either. It just should not happen, especially with two different signatures by the same person, perhaps caused by the blurred double vision.

All Mr Mustard can say for sure is that a lot goes wrong in Haringey.

The representations are going off tomorrow, not sure which PCN they will be against, the one on the left, or the one on the right, or both? and there may be another story about Mr P and these tickets in due course.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

A little story about Mr Mustard's business from years ago. Clients used to ask him about service levels. Mr Mustard used to say 'we are average but everyone else that we follow is useless so we look fantastic' and then he would smile at his clients who were never sure if he was joking or not. For some reason Haringey Council parking 'service' reminded him of that.

20 June 2017

Tower Hamlets - no paying out policy

On 22 March, Miss A's car was towed to the pound. She paid the £65 PCN charge and a £200 removal fee to recover her car. Mr Mustard took up the cudgels on her behalf and a hearing at the independent tribunal ensued on 24 June. Mr Mustard/Miss A lost on the PCN but won on the tow away so £200 was directed by the adjudicator to be returned 'without delay'.

As of 20 June the refund had not been made (a bit rich when you can only recover your car by paying instantly) so Mr Mustard decided to ask for the procedures which are in place to ensure that the council do follow the decisions of adjudicators, which they are legally bound to do.

Here they aren't:

That can't be right surely. The council will have plenty of policies and procedures to make sure you pay on time, as well as a 50% supplement if you miss the 28 day payment deadline, but none at all to make sure they issue refunds quickly. 

The council have a general duty at law to be procedurally fair; clearly they aren't.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard