27 February 2013

Move along now, no story here

Mr Mustard gets lost following someone else's info!

Mr Mustard has deleted his most recent blog posting as it was wrong. He was mislead by PATAS into believing that the camera car had been used to ticket a motorist during a trial usage and it wasn't the case, a traffic warden dished the ticket out on foot in the customary manner.

The parking process manager assures him there are no parking tickets issued by the cctv car and Mr Mustard believes him so that is today's non story out of the way. Mr Mustard will go back to his day job and keep his head down (until tomorrow!).

25 February 2013

Parked Parking tickets

Is your PCN in this office?
Word reaches Mr Mustard that stagnant parking tickets from 2010 and 2011 which had not been pursued at or after the Charge Certificate stage, when a ticket penalty is increased by 50%, and which in 2013 motorists will think have been written off and thus they have thrown their own paperwork away, are now being brought back to life and Charge Certificates are being sent out or, the next step, are being registered at the County Court as a debt.

Not surprisingly motorists are confused, astonished or angry, or all three, and are complaining to Barnet Council. Mr Mustard has asked the council this morning exactly what is going on and will get a reply after full investigation in due course.

The question of delay was considered in a Parking Appeals Service case ( Paul Richard Davis v Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea) in March 1998 which set out that councils should act in a timely manner. Over a year is not timely.

In their report for 1995/96 the Parking & Traffic Appeals Service said that a PCN should be cancelled if 6 months had elapsed since the issue of the Charge Certificate (which bumps the penalty up by 50%) and the penalty had not in those 6 months been registered as a debt at the County Court.

Since that time the Code of Practice issued by London Councils says, at para 170, a PCN should be cancelled if there has been a delay of 6 months at any stage of the enforcement process.

So now you know what to do if an old parking ticket appears out of the blue, complain. A request for compensation for distress might make the council move a little quicker to cancel your parking ticket as they should have done when they left it to rot of old age in the first place.

If you receive an Order for Recovery in respect of an old parking ticket you can send a Witness Statement to the County Court to roll the process back and allow for your appeal to be heard in certain circumstances, as follows:

The Witness Statement is an important legal statement which states that you did not receive either:

1.   a Notice to Owner, or
2.   a Notice of Rejection from the council, or
3.   a Notice of Refusal from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, or
4.   that you paid the penalty charge within 28 days of receiving it. 

On the form you will see ONE of 4 boxes to tick each of which relates to one of the headings above. Only tick one box.

Do not make a false declaration although how you could be found to have made a wrong statement about what happened in 2010 Mr Mustard is not sure.

Mr Mustard would be more inclined though in the first place to telephone customer services at Barnet Council (020 8359 7446) and say he wished to make a complaint and only after giving them a week to sort it out and them failing would he then send a Witness Statement if he was are at that stage.

If you live in Barnet you can also ask one of your ward councillors to help put right this obvious injustice. Find out who they are on this page

Don't pay; fight!

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

22 February 2013

the future of North Finchley

Friday Joke

Mr Mustard has shamelessly borrowed the following joke from his friends at Rapid Training who took his self taught motorcycling "skills" and added safety, control and good progress. If you ride a motorcycle and think you could improve, or even more so if you think you can't, spend a day on the road with one of their instructors and become much better and safer.

Stranded On An Island:

A man is stranded on a desert island, all alone for ten years. One day, he sees a speck on the horizon. He thinks to himself, “It’s not a ship.” The speck gets a little closer and he thinks, “It’s not a boat.”

The speck gets even closer and he thinks, “It’s not a raft.” Then, out of the surf comes this gorgeous blonde, wearing a wet suit and scuba gear.

She comes up to the man and she says, “How long has it been since you’ve had a cigarette?”
“Ten years!” he says.

She reaches over, unzips a waterproof pocket on her left sleeve and pulls out a pack of fresh cigarettes.

He takes one, lights it, takes a long drag and says, “Man, oh man! Is that good!”

Then she asks, “How long has it been since you’ve had a drink of whiskey?”
He replies, “Ten years!”

She reaches over, unzips her waterproof pocket on the right, pulls out a flask and gives it to him.
He takes a long swig and says, “Wow, that’s fantastic!”
Then she starts unzipping this long zipper that runs down the front of her wet suit and she says to him, “And how long has it been since you’ve had some REAL fun?”

And the man replies, “My God! Don’t tell me you’ve got a motorcycle in there!”

19 February 2013

1.5m people in UK don't have a bank account

The wrong question - Pay-by-phone is the elephant in the room

When coming round from his slumbers one recent morning (a lovely image for readers to have in their head) Mr Mustard heard on Radio4 that 2 million people did not have a bank account in the UK (or Britain or England - Mr Mustard was only half awake). Well he thought that is 2m people who face great difficulties if they want to visit Barnet and we do want them all to visit Barnet at some point but why bother when paying for parking is such a pain and it is easier to go elsewhere and have an easier life.

The exact figure of the number without a bank account is unclear. The Daily Telegraph has it at 1.5million. Looking further afield Mr Mustard found a report from the Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services which looked at the area of financial exclusion in 2009. That found that 100% of Danes have a bank account, 98% of people in the UK and 49% in Bulgaria so those Bulgarians who move to Barnet in the future are in for a rude awakening.

The parking reviews which are currently being carried out across the borough are proceeding at snail's pace, not asking the right questions and not resulting in the steps which are necessary to allow everybody easy access to a payment system that meets their needs.

Let us see them

Now the perceived parking problems had to be put into order of importance. That leads to a problem. Is it a bigger problem that parking is £2 an hour or that if you don't have a credit/debit  card you cannot pay? everyone will have a different idea.

In North Finchley 54 businesses said it was the cost and 48 cited the pay-by-phone system as the main concern but another 18 said the lack of pay&display (by which they are taken to mean cash meters) so taken together that is 66 who think it is the payment method which is the most important. The cost of parking was reduced although much more could be done by the council to actually attract people to the High Street rather than not putting them off but nothing of import was done about aboutcash payment options.

In Chipping Barnet, which has fewer shops, there was a lower response but 20 of the 38 respondents cited pay-by-phone as the main problem. 4 others said the lack of coin operated parking meters. Did that lead to cash parking meters being re-introduced? No.

Finally for now, Edgware. 19 responses here. Largest complaint, yes you guessed it, pay-by-phone.

The "wrong" method of questioning was used. What the council should have asked was closed questions such as:

Would you like cash parking meters to be re-instated?

Mr Mustard suspects that the answer would have been yes in 99% of replies but then the council would have been obliged to do something they don't want to do because they want to save the costs of collecting the cash which is to Mr Mustard's mind completely the wrong way of looking at things.

If you are a business in a town centre yet to be surveyed please write "I want to see coin operated parking meters in this town" on every page of the questionnaire.

Let people who want to pay-by-phone do so. Let those who want to pay by coin do so. In business the customer is meant to be king but here in Barnet we have been scuppered for now by the soi-disant King of Bling (Brian Coleman signed the DPR to remove parking meters and scrap them and it will take a bold decision by Dean Cohen to put them back and Mr Mustard has yet to see him do anything bold).

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

15 February 2013

Topical Friday Jokes

in Britain -Complaints to Councils
Extracts from letters written by council tenants:

1. It's the dogs mess that I find hard to swallow.

2. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

3. I wish to complain that my father twisted his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage.

4. Their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

5. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the other day that blew them off.

6. My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

7. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

8. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path. My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.

9. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

10. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster, and 50% are just plain filthy.

11. The next door neighbour has got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.

12. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

13. Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny colour and not fit to drink.

14. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and now is in three pieces.

15. I want to complain about the farmer across the road. Every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up and it's now getting too much for me.

16. The man next door has a large erection in the back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

17. Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third, so please send someone round to do something about it.

18. I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man on top of me every night.

19. Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife..

20. I have had the clerk of works down on the floor six times but I still have no satisfaction.

21. This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broke and we can't get BBC2.

22. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it.

13 February 2013

Exposition, or, I wanna tell you a story

Below are the independent adjudicators comments following an appeal to PATAS for the heinous crime of being inside a CPZ zone on a single yellow line in Hoop Lane (many of whose motorists go to appeal)

Although I am prepared to accept on the basis of the Council's site photograph that the vehicle was parked on a single yellow line there is no evidence of the presence of the required timeplate or CPZ signage. The Council might have been better advised to provide a plan of the Zone and evidence of the presence of signage at its entry points rather than devoting large parts of its case summary to a general exposition of the law relating to restricted streets. I am not satisfied the Council has proved the restriction relied on was clearly and correctly indicated and it follows that the Appeal must be allowed.

For those that don't know, and Mr Mustard had to check as English is a tricky language, an exposition is:

a systematic interpretation or explanation (usually written) of a specific topic

Whatever it is or isn't the independent adjudicator wasn't impressed. He would, it seems, have preferred some facts and so he cancelled the parking ticket as the case wasn't proved.

One thing is true is that fings ain't what they used to be in parking since NSL took over. 

Weren't NSL meant to be experts at this parking enforcement malarkey? their actions don't suggest that. As One Barnet contracts go this ain't a good un.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

11 February 2013

Who was better informed after the meeting?

The report that follows is by a clear thinking, intelligent and dynamic resident of Totteridge ward. Barbara Horn Jacobson, who is a member of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services. Thank you for giving up your time Barbara.

Meeting of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association

The advertisement for Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association open meeting on 5 February reads  ‘OneBarnet’,  ‘Deputy Leader to speak: outsourcing explained’ , ‘An opportunity to learn what is being outsourced and why recycling is being brought in-house’,  ‘Cllr Daniel Thomas, a Suburb resident and Barnet deputy leader, will speak’ ; we might have added ‘at long last’.  For more than two years Cllr Thomas has been one of the two Cabinet members leading the One Barnet Programme ("OBP"), pushing it ahead without consulting or informing the residents, and refusing to listen to the more than 8,000 who have been informed by BAPS and have signed the petition for a referendum.

Elsewhere it was said that the meeting would be ‘factual, not political’. Another aspiration not achieved. At the meeting Cllr Thomas declared that he is a politician and wants to be re-elected, so perhaps it was with the election of 2014 in mind that he accepted the invitation to appear before this small gathering of his neighbours (about 40 residents of the Suburb and 10 residents from other parts of the borough) in the hope and expectation that they would approve of his version of the OBP. It was not to be. (the number of days to the next local elections is in the sidebar to the left. You can count Harper & Thomas down & out)

not a picture of confidence, bricks behind, bricking it in front
Cllr Thomas started confidently, extolling the excellence of Barnet’s public services – the third most efficient in London’, with one of the ‘most low-cost back-office’ operations – yet stating the need to save money because of the cuts in central government funding. That might have been deemed to be factual, but the explanation of ‘transforming the council’, of a ‘new relationship with citizens’, that Barnet was moving to a commissioning model, and the way in which the savings would be made – privatisation – was purely political.

He explained that the next wave of outsourcing, the DRS, would be a joint venture (JV), that it was a ‘new concept to put these services out’, and would give the council more control – not, presumably, more control than full ownership, only more control than complete privatisation. The JV would also provide scope for the council to make money, as other councils would come to Barnet to do their planning work (have you seen the planning yearbook for 2013 and the low performance percentages of Barnet Council - 29% of planning permission for minor developments granted within 8 weeks whereas Bexley managed 72% and Brent 80% - why would another local authority give up a well performing department in favour of such poor performance?). Current staff were not trained to be commercial, so are being replaced with people who are. He admitted that work on the JV was and would remain on hold until after the judicial review of the NSCSO contract. (This on-off JV question is very confusing. Cornelius said councillors would decide, the council website says JV is just an option We are currently reviewing, in discussion with sponsoring members, the option of a joint venture. Thomas says it will be a JV. What the heck is going on, is there a power struggle, anyone thought to ask residents?).

He repeated the well-rehearsed lines: how much adult and children’s services cost, how much the Capita contract would save, what a small proportion of the budget the NSCSO is, that risks were mitigated by a parent-company guarantee, that the contracts would be monitored and could be bench marked if necessary, that without these measures council tax would have to be increased by 38 per cent – again failing to say ‘over ten years’. He said bringing recycling back in-house was proof that the Cabinet was not ideologically driven. But, contradicting himself again, he said that the One Barnet Programme was a [central] government pilot. He and Cllr Andrew Harper, in attendance as the HGS ward councillor, seemed surprised to be met with nothing but scepticism and opposition. (do councillors live in a bubble?)

The newly informed residents questioned the validity of the monitoring system, the risks of and lack of competition inherent in a 10-year contract, the probability of failure, the way the ‘customer services’ would work, whether procurement was being outsourced (the councillor had neglected to itemise the services, just referring to them as ‘back office’), whether councillors should have lower allowances or were needed at all. These residents told the councillors that monitoring and KPIs allowed companies to ‘game the system’ – that is, assess their own performance as compliant even when it was not – and that no private supplier of public services had delivered the savings it promised. They countered Cllr Thomas’s claim that NSL was delivering on budget, and told him about the 60% parking-ticket-appeal success rate, which he and Cllr Harper said they would have to look into. The residents were not impressed by Cllr Thomas’s explanation that private companies made savings over what he had said were the very efficient Barnet services by paying their staff less and giving them fewer benefits but offering them better career opportunities. They exposed the inconsistency in his saying Capita had up-to-date software and systems for running Barnet affairs but somehow need to invest £13 million of Barnet money in IT, which Capita would then own. They did not accept that financial penalties for failures and the possibilities of renegotiating aspects of the contract after four years were sufficient safeguards, pointing out that the council would be tied up in legal arguments by Capita to counter any penalties.  They suggested it would have been better just to hire top managers from the private sector to run council services more efficiently than to contract out. Cllr Thomas’s explanations of why the council couldn’t run the public services as well as a private company sounded like he just thought the job was too difficult for him. (Mr Mustard has come to the conclusion that councillors can't be bothered to sort out management who are not up to the job and councillors think that contracting everything out will be easy and their problems will disappear. Different problems will take their place. All we see instead is that staff problems are harder to resolve because they are someone else's staff and so you can't discipline them. A case in point is the NSL traffic warden who told Helen Michael of Cafe Buzz that she was only fit to clean the toilets and that complaint should have been dealt with the minute he came off shift, in fact he should have been called back to base the moment the complaint was made. He is still patrolling North Finchley as Mr Mustard has seen him. At the least he should be exiled to Edgware (Mr Mustard has nothing against Edgware - he just wants the warden a long way away from Cafe Buzz)).

Cllr Harper said monitoring would also result from feedback by individual residents. He was asked how much impact those individual’s voices would have when the Cabinet ignored a petition signed by more than 8000 residents. Cllr Thomas trotted out his ‘that’s only 2 per cent’ of residents line, and the dismissive ‘people will sign opposing petitions’; does a politician really think he’s scoring points by suggesting that his electorate are so stupid? We countered that the 8,000 was not a result of canvassing the entire borough, that BAPS was trying to get only 7,000 signatures. We could have added, 8000 is a lot more than the 11 Cabinet members solely responsible for the OBP.

Cllr Harper’s other contribution was to say that the Tories had frozen council tax, a comment that was almost jeered. (Mr Mustard does not want his council tax frozen at the expense of people who have needs that society should meet)

Harper: remind me how many beans make five? Thomas: I'll have to get back to you on that one.
In reply to a question about Capita’s appearance on the Barnet website, Cllr Thomas said that Capita had started working with the council after the decision in December to award the contract. There was no opportunity to ask whether the parties should have waited until signing the contract before this work began. (We have seen Capita appear on the website already).

The foregoing is, of course, a summary, not a verbatim account (except where quotation marks are used), so comments are not attributed to individuals. There were no voices supporting Cllr Thomas’s presentation. While there’s no knowing what the silent minority thought,  on their way out, the residents were offered the Barnet Spring March leaflet, and I think only one declined it.

It is interesting that the Cllrs Thomas and Harper did not initiate this event, and that elsewhere in the borough Tory councillors have not appeared before their constituents to explain the OBP. After this showing, they will probably be even more reluctant to do so.

(Picture credits: @barnet_rebel - why not follow him/her on twitter)

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

8 February 2013

FOI Club - 11 February at 7pm in North Finchley

The 11 February at 7pm. A change of venue to be more central in the borough to the Bohemia public house, details here, and a slightly extended agenda to the Mr Mustard FOI, Social and Parking Ticket Club (yes, a catchy name, a Mr Mustard t-shirt to whoever comes up with the best alternative name)

bang opposite Cafe Buzz

near Tally Ho corner in North Finchley.

Mr Mustard looks forward to a chat and a beer with you.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Injustice (where? in parking? surely not?)

use one of these perfectly properly and lose your appeal!
Parking tickets are utter madness at any time and cause great affront. One is entitled to be outraged when you follow the rules and then have a parking ticket issued to you which is upheld by the independent adjudicator, not through some fault of the motorist but of Barnet Council.

Here is what the adjudicator said following an appeal from Monday:

The appellant says that she made every effort to comply with the conditions of use of the designated parking bay. She says that she went to nearby shop to buy a parking voucher. She produces a voucher which had been scratched out to show the date, and the time of arrival as 4 minutes after issue of the Penalty Charge Notice.

The evidence of the officer is conclusive of the fact that the bay in which the vehicle was parked was a 'pay by phone' only bay. There is no provision for the obtaining and display of a voucher. The sign is clear and unambiguous.

The appeal is refused.

Here is a sample of the type of sign (not for the exact location) that is used in "pay-by-phone" bays 


This sign does not mention that you can pay by voucher or that you can pay at paypoint. That information may be on the tall thin secondary information sign that is on the other side of the pole but the independent adjudicator in this case did not know that and the pay-by-phone signs on the shared use bays in Mr Mustard Road do not disclose the existence of vouchers.

The pay-by-phone bays will now have to be renamed "Pay-by-phone or voucher or paypoint or credit or debit card at meter bays" - doesn't it just trip off the tongue?

Questions are tumbling over themselves to be asked.

Why did the formal appeal not pick up that Parking Vouchers are a perfectly proper way of paying? (Probably, and as Mr Mustard doesn't act for this motorist he can only surmise, because the appeal was on the basis of having purchased a voucher and the rejection will have been that too long was taken to do so)

Would the council have decided to cancel the parking ticket when they saw the notes from PATAS because they knew that the decision was based on a lack of knowledge of vouchers in Barnet? (Extremely unlikely)

Does the Traffic Management Order (TMO) mention these new Parking Vouchers that traders are encouraged to sell? (Possibly not and this is a question that Mr Mustard has asked, in general for all pay bays, of one of his council parking contacts. They are probably having a bad day now.)

If not mentioned in the TMO will all the TMO have to be updated? (Yes and it will take ages).

Did NSL (on behalf of the council) send PATAS as part of the evidence pack a complete copy of the TMO or just a short extract which is what is usually done as they can run to dozens of pages? (Probably an extract and so if anything about Parking Vouchers is in it the adjudicator will not have seen it).

Did NSL send a copy to PATAS of the tall thin sign which is shown above? (Even if they had, which is doubtful, it doesn't mention Parking Vouchers).

Does every "pay-by-phone" time plate in the borough need changing? (oh dear, another headache for parking client side -  Mr Mustard isn't expecting a Christmas card).

Why should traders sell Parking Vouchers that are useless? ( They cause more trouble than they are worth. It would be much better to have more free bays in town centres to encourage trade and to put meters in car parks that take cash, credit/debit cards, tokens and smart cards.)

Once Mr Mustard has the answers from parking client side, so will you.

As an aside there is a box on the voucher which includes the instruction in tiny type to complete your registration number. Do that or get a parking ticket. Mr Mustard has suggested this box be removed at the next reprint as a 1 hour voucher is hardly likely to be used by two vehicles.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Update Friday 8 February 2013

A member of the parking client side has been in touch. This is speedy work which is to be commended. The response is:

I do not agree with the excerpt “There is no provision for the obtaining and display of a voucher”. The Traffic Management Order for the bay in question (TMO 2008 No 17 – Schedule 20 – Item 555) and the amending Traffic Management Order (2011 No. 78) defines the methods of payments accepted here in Barnet, including the displaying of Parking Vouchers (I have only attached 2011 No.78 as 2008 No 17 is over 60 MB).

I can confirm that authorisation has been given by the Department for Transport for our signage. I am therefore satisfied that said signage is compliant and within the law.

It is my belief that the Adjudicator was right to refuse the Appeal, but refused it for the wrong reasons, it is also my belief that the Penalty Charge Notice should be cancelled as the Adjudicator has in my opinion made a mistake.

So the good news is that the injustice will be corrected and it was a one-off at Patas and hopefully it won't happen again. 

The question to which we will never know the answe ris what would have happened if Mr Mustard had not read the PATAS decision.

The Friday Joke by NSL "does not set a precedent"

Number plate redacted by Mr Mustard

Do you remember this photograph, which is the car of a friend of Mr Mustard supposedly parked on the pavement?

Is it a Ford Fiesta or an E-type Jaguar? who can say. 
Is it in Hendon or Childs Hill? again, who knows.

Acting on the advice of Mr Mustard the motorist asked if there were any better photographs. She did so using the on-line appeal form but did not actually say she was appealing. This was the response:

We have carefully considered what you had to say but we have decided not to cancel your Penalty Charge Notice.

Taking further advice from Mr Mustard an email was sent to barnet@nslservices.co.uk again asking for any extra photographs which might show the alleged offence, still without making an appeal. This time the answer was very different.

We have considered everything in your email including any evidence enclosed and are pleased to tell you that we have now cancelled the Notice, and that you should hear no more about this matter.

Nevertheless, we must emphasise that this decision was taken on procedural grounds and therefore does not set a precedent.
So she writes the first time and asks for photographs and gets told that the matter has been carefully considered.
She writes a second time in identical terms and the second time the matter was only considered, (not carefully like the first time?) and the parking ticket is cancelled on unspecified "procedural grounds". Joke 1 is that the procedural grounds are the balls-up by the traffic warden in taking unclear pictures.

Joke 2 is that having done nothing wrong the motorist is told that having their unjustified parking ticket cancelled does not set a precedent. Not for the motorist maybe but it wont be the last time that the traffic warden takes inadequate photos so no, it won't set a precedent. NSL will tell you that photographs are only secondary evidence which is true as they are not obligatory but they are persuasive. If there isn't any primary evidence, what proof is there?

If you are in receipt of a parking ticket after dusk visit the council website and look at the photos. If you cannot tell that is your car and the road you are in, appeal as soon as you have the parking ticket, appeal again after the Notice to Owner and then appeal a third time to PATAS. The chances are that you will get the ticket cancelled.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 February 2013

The Friday Joke - The London Borough of Catch 22

Catch-22 is a satirical and somewhat historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953, and the novel was first published in 1961. It is set during World War II in 1943 and is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the twentieth century.

Among other things, Catch-22 is a general critique of bureaucratic operation and reasoning.

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Bomber Pilot Orr was crazy and could be grounded. 

All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. 

Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. 

If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

Someone at Barnet Council or NSL is evidently a fan of this book. See what argument they presented at PATAS the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service. The adjudicator's comments follow (the parking ticket was cancelled):

On parking a vehicle a motorist is of necessity allowed a reasonable, in normal circumstances brief, time to do whatever is necessary to validate the parking; and while this is actively in progress the vehicle is not in contravention. The motorist must of course act promptly, and not spend time in any other activity whilst doing so. After a few minutes a CEO would be perfectly justified in issuing a PCN leaving the motorist to explain to the Council, or an Adjudicator, why it took so long.

In the present case the Appellant has provided a satisfactory explanation. The observation period is brief and I see not reason to doubt the Appellant's evidence that at the time of the observation he was engaged in obtaining the necessary permit from this very elderly lady. He was entitled to do so and I do not accept the Council's suggestion that he was required to park elsewhere, obtain the permit and then bring his vehicle round to park. As it transpires the vehicle was not in contravention and the PCN was incorrectly issued.

Mr Mustard isn't sure whether he should laugh or cry at the council's desperate attempt, possibly inspired or started by NSL who present the evidence to PATAS, to extract £110 from a motorist who was visiting an elderly person, the very kind of Big Society activity that the council claims it is in favour of. If we took the council's argument back in time as applying to cash meters you would be at risk of getting a parking ticket in the time from reaching a car park applying the handbrake and turning off your engine to reaching the parking meter, inserting coins and returning to the car with your ticket, you then would be told that you shouldn't have entered the car park in the first place until you had paid!

This argument is ridiculous, patently absurd. Barnet Council need to go and stand in front of a mirror and give themselves a good dressing down.

Barnet Council - a complete joke.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard