Sunday, 24 March 2013

Motorists drive the council back once again (times 47)

Mustang 67
There were 67 cases at PATAS in the week starting 11 March 2013. Of those 47 went the way of the motorist. The interesting cases, all of which resulted in a cancelled parking ticket, were:
A dropped kerb case where the council did not take sharp photographs at right angles to the kerb. If you come back to a parking ticket take your own photos of this kind before you move the car; the warden might take a picture at an angle to make the situation seem worse than it was.
A builder who went to load stuff that wasn't ready was still found to be loading. If councils have to follow that idea of Eric Pickles MP to give 10 minutes grace all those rapidly issued tickets will have to stop and the world will be a better place.
A man who collects donations for the British Heart Foundation found that NSL and/or Barnet Council didn't have a heart but the independent adjudicator did.
A lady sent a cheque in for 50% but forgot to date it. NSL sent it back, the lady was on holiday. By the time she returned it NSL insisted on 100%. The adjudicator felt, in essence, that was not fair and order that the cheque now be accepted in full settlement. Mr Mustard would have simply date stamped the cheque and banked it if there was no indication that it was not intended to be a current dated cheque. Possibly not strictly the letter of the law but a pragmatic solution.
A motorist who actually had proof of payment by phone had to go through all 3 appeal stages to get their parking ticket cancelled. Why? is the question that will never be answered.
Another dropped kerb which cannot be made out in the photos so the parking ticket cannot be upheld.
The note book kept by the traffic warden did not correspond with the times of the parking ticket. Notes have to be made at the time by the warden. You can ask for a copy of the notebook from the council to help with your appeal.
The London Ambulance Service had a ticket cancelled. Sadly no details are given as to whether it was on a 999 call or not at the time.
Another case had uncertain and vague evidence from the council. Result? parking ticket cancelled.
If you receive a letter of rejection of your argument that appears to be a template i.e. it doesn't answer your argument, that is a procedural impropriety so worth appealing against.
This is what the independent adjudicator had to say:

The council is under a duty to properly consider representations made to it in response to the notice to owner. On the appellant raising the issue I have read the council's rejection notice it appearing to be based on a template letter no reference at all being made therein to any of the points made by the appellant in her representations and I am not satisfied for that reason that the council properly considered those representations. I accordingly find that a procedural impropriety has occurred.
There were 14 cases in which no argument at all was presented. That could happen to you and is an easy win so keep on appealing.
Appeal informally after the parking ticket.
Appeal formally after the Notice to owner (use the same argument plus and new ones you think of).
Appeal to PATAS the home of the independent adjudicator.
Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Monday, 18 March 2013

A record week at PATAS

not many of these left
In the week which started on 4 March there were an amazing 118 Barnet appeals heard at PATAS by the independent adjudicators and 78 led to the parking tickets being cancelled. Another 5 were legally correct but the council were recommended to cancel or not collect them all the same. In a typical week NSL issue 3,000 parking &/or bus lane tickets on behalf of Barnet Council and the usual run rate of appeals to PATAS across London is 1 and a bit %. In this week the rate was more than 3%

Possible reasons are that people are getting fed up and are appealing more often, news is spreading about how to appeal or NSL are dishing out more unfair parking tickets than Barnet Council in-house staff used to do or because of the recession people fight rather than meekly pay up.

Let me give you a quick summary of the reasons why people lost their appeals:

- being in the loading bay - if the loading bay does not allow for 15 minutes free parking (a la N Finchley & Chipping Barnet) and you are not loading or unloading then stay out of loading bays. Drivers of HGVs will be grateful.
- dropped kerbs - do not make it hard for wheelchair users.
- being in the bus lane - at certain times they are for buses, stay out of them at those times
- parked on the pavement - stay off them
- incorrectly validated voucher - double check them
- used the pay-by-phone sign from across the road - don't!
- blue badge not on display - if you only ever use one vehicle why not permanently attach it to the windscreen?

These are all avoidable events. You need to park like you are paranoid because 50 traffic wardens truly are out to get you.

The parking tickets that were cancelled included a whole load where NSL / the Council simply didn't submit their evidence. Either because they knew they would lose so why spend the time or because they can't keep up which seems more likely. Once the Notice to Owner has arrived it doesn't cost you any extra to appeal to PATAS and it gives you another month or so to save up in to pay the ticket if you lose.

There was a case about not being within the bay markings. The guidance I have seen from London Councils is that a ticket should not be given for this contravention unless an entire wheel is outside the bay.

There was another case of pavement parking where the photos were so poor that you can't tell where the car is. If you get a ticket during the hours of darkness always check the photos on the council website.

An alleged case of a blue badge not being on display was not supported by a photograph and so the parking ticket was cancelled.

In another blue badge case the council's evidence was described as uncertain and so the PCN was cancelled. The moral of the story is that whereas the council will write to you in stiff terms that you are in the wrong once they get tested by an independent adjudicator they find the task rather tougher and occasionally get rebuked for misleading residents about parking law.

Some more photos were described as useless and thus the PCN was cancelled.

A parking ticket was given to a cancer patient who was parked on the footway. They had an emergency and needed to go for treatment. Although rejected by the council the independent adjudicator took a more sensible and sensitive decision and cancelled the parking ticket.

Someone parked across their own dropped kerb and got a ticket which they shouldn't have as they are only meant to be enforced upon demand and you don't ring the council to ticket your own car. Why are these tickets having to be appealed all the way to PATAS is what I don't get.

If someone else moves your car onto the pavement, maybe following an accident, then you are not liable and PATAS will cancel the ticket if they are convinced you are innocent (always tell the truth).

Keep those appeals flying in and it might make the council think about issuing fewer tickets.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Thursday, 14 March 2013

70 parking tickets cancelled by PATAS in a week

The week of 25 February was a good one for the motorist and a pretty bad for the council which we also have to pay for. There were 97 appeals which cost £42 each so around £4,000 was paid out and 27 tickets worth either £60, £110 or £130 a time will be payable (although not necessarily paid) so using £110 that would be about £3,000 coming in. The council need to look at the way in which NSL are careering about the borough looking for vehicles to ticket. More and more people are starting to appeal.
In the year ended 31 March 12 there were 1,409 parking appeals to Patas, and 79 for bus lanes, out of 150,000 PCN issued so approximately 1% of parking and bus lane tickets end up with an appeal at the PATAS stage. The week of 25 February saw 3.36% of an average week's parking tickets appealed which is an indication to me that all is not well with the issue of parking tickets. As the number of appeals rises the pressure will mount on the parking budget and more and more desperate parking tickets will probably be issued to get the numbers up.
23 of the appeals did not result in a hearing either because the evidence pack was not provided or because the council threw in the towel at the last minute. If you have a good case don't be put off by the council and/or NSL bluffing and blustering, hand on to the end and you might get a pleasant surprise.
Some notable cases:
Case 2130035540 ( you can look at PATAS cases here ):

The Appellant thought he had paid for parking his car, but it turned out that he had paid for his wife 's scooter (not me in case you were wondering) which had been parked and paid for in Westminster previously. It would appear that the same company operate the pay by phone parking for this Enforcement Authority and Westminster. As far as I am aware payment for parking in motor cycle bays is only required in Westminster.
The Appellant's complaint is that he had no reason to believe that the two Enforcement Authorities had a connected payment system (combined account) . I am aware that in Westminster the default system is that where there is more than one vehicle registered the last one paid for is the default vehicle when the next payment is made. So I assume that here as the last payment on this combined account was for the scooter in the area of the other authority, then that was the default vehicle.
However, unless clearly warned to the contrary, a person registered to pay by phone in this Authority would not expect transactions in other authorities to have any bearing. To this extent I agree with the Appellant. The Enforcement Authority have not produced any warnings or information given to users about the combined accounts. Whilst I imagine any automatic system may have announced the vehicle registration mark of the vehicle being paid for, that would not be sufficient given the assumptions against a combined account the motorist would have. To that extent the payment for the wrong vehicle was a systematic fault rather than the Appellant's.
In these circumstances, I must allow this appeal.
So you use the hated pay-by-phone system in other places, be careful.
Blue badge holders seem to have more than their fair share of trouble given to them:

She does not dispute where and when her vehicle was parked. She says she was displaying a disabled person's badge. It is common ground that if she was the contravention cannot be said to have occurred. The Authority has not provided me with any notes from the Enforcement Officer on that point but asserts that a note was made that no badge was seen. Four photographs have been produced but they are of such very poor quality as to be wholly uninformative. 

On the other hand Mrs. G has maintained the same account from the outset. She is a Barnet resident and the Authority does not dispute she holds a Blue Badge. This was an incident at about 17:22 on a late November evening. The natural light must have been poor or non-existent. On balance I accept the Appellant's account and find the contravention did not occur. Accordingly, I allow the Appeal.
Parking tickets without photographs or with blurred photos and vague notes were cancelled.
There is a redundant dropped kerb in Hamilton Rd and so the parking ticket was cancelled. If you get ticketed for parking across a dropped kerb which seems to have no good purpose then appeal it.
A redundant disabled bay which had been painted over and a proper CPZ bay not put there to replace it led to a cancelled parking ticket. Is there a redundant disabled bay put in for a particular resident who no longer lives there? if so, you can ask the council to remove it.
Don't panic, a nice traffic warden will help you?
The appellant appeared before me. She was in a very emotional state. She said that she had just come from a very difficult appointment at the Paediatric department from Barnet hospital and there were serious issues with her baby and she was she was so overwrought and having a panic attack that she stopped for a few minutes on the yellow line and got out of her vehicle to get some fresh air and calm down.
She had seen as sign on an earlier part of the road showing parking restrictions ending at 6.30 and did not expect that there were different restrictions in force at the location where she came to a stop. She stated that the sign shown in the photographs were a considerable distance from her vehicle and you could not see it as it was camouflaged by trees. She further stated that the CEO even saw the appellant and how distressed she was standing near the vehicle and yet still proceeded to issue a penalty charge notice.
I accept what the appellant says and believe that appellant stopped as a result of having a panic attack and am therefore not satisfied that the contravention did occur.

I have therefore allowed this appeal. (The sensible and human decision).
Another dropped kerb non-problem:
There is no dispute that this vehicle was parked adjacent to a dropped kerb outside the appellant's address she stating that she shares that address with a Mr D.
Parking adjacent to a dropped kerb is prohibited but an exemption is available where a vehicle is parked outside residential premises by or with the constant of the occupier of those premises - other than where a driveway is shared (which I am satisfied on the appellant's photograph of it this driveway is not).
The appellant seeks to rely upon this exemption.
She submits that she had the permission of her joint occupier, Mr D, to park her vehicle as she did. Mr Dredge has written in support. I acknowledge the council's point that no evidence has been supplied to show that Mr D lives at this property but I am prepared to accept that he does and that he consented to the vehicle being parked as it was and am satisfied on the appellant's case that she may claim the benefit of the exemption claimed.
Well done everyone. remember keep appealing, 3 times for every ticket.
Yours appealingly
Miss Feezance

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

PATAS week comm. 18 February - 57% win

The decisions this week were slightly down on last week but still nearly 2 out of 3 to the motorist. Before the council post a comment saying how well they are doing getting the parking contract on track I do need to tell you that in the following week the council are kicked around the park.
Notable cases this week nclude one where the motorist tried 3 times to get through on pay-by-phone and the final call was with by the traffic warden himself on the phone. The motorist drove away and he dished out a parking ticket; what a nice man! Here is part of what the independent adjudicator had to say:

It is well established that a motorist may take a little time to ensure payment of the parking fee, and that while that is happening he or she will not commit a contravention. That principle is exactly the same for pay by phone bays as it is for pay and display. I find that the whole of the time that Mrs M was parked she was attempting to pay the pay by phone charge. When she was unsuccessful she did what she was required to do, which was to move away. I allow this appeal.
The bay markings in Corringham Rd were not clear. The parking ticket was cancelled.
PATAS decision 2130027724
The appellant submits that the bay in which his vehicle was parked was inadequately marked bay markings being faded and worn he providing photographs in support. A faded bay marking is visible in the enforcement officer's first photograph but noting the absence of any site report in the council's evidence I cannot be satisfied on the papers before me that this bay is clearly marked in accordance with the legal requirements and I find that the contravention has not therefore been proved.

If you have a parking ticket at the same location that would be worth appealing,

There were some dropped kerb cases but I am going to write a guide to avoiding trouble with those tricky beasts quite soon so will not report on them here.
To save time NSL use standard letters. The danger with standard letters is that they can be used where the circumstances are not really relevant, as here, and then the parking ticket gets cancelled:

I have considered the evidence and find that the kerb marking is very worn, it is so worn as to be almost unenforceable.

The Authority is under a duty to provide reasonable signing so as to give the motorist fair warning of any restrictions, which are in force. Once an Appellant has raised the issue of inadequate signing, the burden of proving to the Adjudicator that the necessary standard has been reached falls on the Authority. The obligation on the Authority extends to ensuring that they maintain the signs and road markings so that they are clearly visible.

The Authority served a Notice of Rejection, stating that they had carefully considered the appellant's case, however other than repeating the response given in their letter of the 3 October 2012 the Notice of Rejection makes no mention of the main point in issue which is the visibility of the kerb marking raised by the appellant.

Regulation 5(2) of The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2007 imposes a duty on the Authority to consider representations and any supporting documentation and to serve a notice of it's decision.

This obligation does not mean that the notice of the decision should necessarily cover ever point raised by the appellant. However where the appellant has raised an relevant issue it is reasonable to infer from a failure by the Authority to address the issue in the Notice of Rejection that the representations have not been considered.
In this case from the contents of the Notice of Rejection I cannot be satisfied that the Authority considered the appellant's representations.
NSL didn't do very well on this next case either, surely they know how evidence should be presented to PATAS?:
The agreed facts are that Mr H's vehicle was parked as shown in the Civil Enforcement Officer's photographs and a Penalty Charge Notice was issued. Mr H says he was unlocking a padlock to a chain so as to gain access to some car parking spaces.

The Civil Enforcement Officer has noted that the vehicle was first observed at 10:56 and the Penalty Charge Notice was issued two minutes later, at the same time as the photographs were taken. No mention is made of seeing anyone.

Mr H says, and I accept, that there are three spaces which are cordoned off by a chain close to where he had left his vehicle. He was bent down low on the other side of the wall to unlock the padlock which was sticking that day, that may be why the Civil Enforcement Officer did not see him at first. He showed me photographs which he had sent to the authority together with a site plan (this is how to deal with any appeal you make, in good solid detail). That evidence was submitted to the authority but it has been very poorly copied in black and white (that is not in accordance with the instructions requirements for councils to submit evidence).

Mr H says he did not see the Civil Enforcement Officer until he came close to his vehicle to affix the Penalty Charge Notice. He spoke to him explaining what he was doing but the Civil Enforcement Officer ignored him and walked off. The whole episode was witnessed by Mr W, whose statement I have seen. Mr W was going to park in one of the other three spaces behind the chain.

Whilst the vehicle was parked on a single yellow line during restricted hours, Mr H was in the process of unlocking the chain. That is akin to opening a gate to premises where the vehicle can park. Mr H could not have driven through the chain and had to get out of his car to unlock the padlock. It is ludicrous to suggest that he should have found a legitimate place to park, come and unlocked the chain, gone to his car and then driven into the space.
I allow the appeal.
Now a case of a voucher not being fully completed. The contravention alleged was of being parked without payment. 
I have not found the council's presentation of its case easy to follow but as I understand its submissions this vehicle was parked in a pay by phone bay.  A motorist may it says park in such a bay if a valid voucher is on display in the vehicle.  This contravention occurred it submits because although a voucher was on display in this vehicle it had not been completed correctly.

 I note on the undisputed evidence before me that this voucher was not fully completed but that does not mean that the appellant parked without payment of the parking charge given the voucher was pre-paid.  I accept that a contravention may have occurred in this case but it is not that stated on the PCN. I am satisfied that the contravention alleged on the PCN did not occur.

I note the appellant's submissions on the point but I have no power to direct the council to issue a letter of apology in regard to its handling of this case or to require the relevant council officials to undergo training

That is an argument that other people may care to use. You can refer to PATAS case 21230029377. The usual detail which is missed is the vehicle registration number as the type on the voucher is tiny.
There was still a better than 50/50 chance of getting your parking ticket cancelled so keep banging those appeals in. Remember you might have to try 3 times to succeed (informal after the PCN, formal after the Notice to Owner using the same argument and finanlly to PATAS after the Notice of Rejection). 
Yours appealingly
Miss Feezance