Sunday, 25 January 2015

PATAS - w/c 19 Jan 15 - the sh1t hits the fan

from the Saracen Joust (may not have got this quite right)
Yet another week passes by at PATAS. There were 860 new Appeals lodged, down below the usual 1000 because of the seasonal break. Give it two weeks and numbers will be back to normal. Of those 860, some 35 cases came from Barnet and this is the expected 4% so Barnet seems to be getting back to normal as well.

There were 64 actual hearings (there is at least a 4 week time lag between lodging an Appeal and it being decided) of which 43 went the way of the motorist. That is a 67% success rate. The council threw in the towel on 14 cases to avoid the time of preparing evidence and if they had contested them all I think the motorist would have won 58%. If the environment committee vote in favour on Tuesday, as I suspect they will, there are going to be 12 new members of staff to deal with challenges to PCN in-house, and to prepare evidence packs, so we ought to see better more consistent decisions and more Appeals being contested by the council. Motorists equally need to sharpen up their act.

The reason for my headline this week is that for the first time that I can remember there was an Appeal against an Event Day (Saracens) zone PCN by a fan of Saracens. If that person doesn't know when match days are, why are uninterested members of the public expected to? He still got his PCN cancelled as the council had produced signs for the wrong location.

There were two Regulation 10 (drive away) PCN which came in the post. In both cases the council could not show that they had started to prepare a PCN on street rather than merely observing and so both PCN were cancelled.

There were also two PCN which were cancelled on the grounds that the suspension was not properly signed.

Keep those Appeals coming.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Sunday, 18 January 2015

PATAS - w/c 12 Jan 15 - on hire

find them in Shaftesbury Ave
This week at PATAS everyone had got over Xmas and things proceeded as normal.

What wasn't normal though was that somehow Barnet accounted for 63 of the week's 869 new Appeals which is 7% when really they should only make up 4% of the workload. I must make some enquiries as to what is going wrong as a month ago Barnet were at 2% but it has turned out to be a flash in the pan.

There were 35 Appeals heard of which 25 were won by the motorist so that was 75% which is a good win rate and worth the time to complete a simple form.

The one common theme in this week was that there were 5 cases in which Barnet Council (NSL) accepted at the last minute that the vehicle was on hire. Why do they make hire companies send in formal representations and then file a PATAS Appeal form when it is blindingly obvious that the PCN should be transferred to the person who hired the vehicle (except for bus lanes where the hire company are stuck with the PCN.)

Yours appealing

Miss Feezance

Sunday, 11 January 2015

PATAS - w/c 5 Jan 15 - got it taped

This week was a busier one although not yet full speed. There were 826 new Appeals registered of which 68, that is 8%, came from Barnet. This was twice the rate at which appeals should arrive for Barnet cases. I keep saying that and eventually the council will get things on an even keel.

There were 40 Appeals actually heard and the council threw in the towel on 16 of them thus wasting PATAS fees of about £500 (it is usual over the holiday season for them to decide not to bother as they are short handed, probably). That helped the motorists win 31 out of the 40 cases which is a win rate of 78%. It doesn't matter to the motorist if they win after or without a fight, you just want your PCN cancelled and the result is the same, nothing to pay.

There were three cases of note.

In the first one the motorist was delivering what was described as a cassette player, which if it was the size of a paperback book, wouldn't qualify for the loading/unloading exemption unless it was being delivered in the course of trade. The council put in evidence a photo of the cassette player but it is hard to assess scale without anything else in the picture, as in mine above. However, I don't think they said it is really a boom box and weighs 6.8 kilos. The motorist was allowed the loading/unloading exemption and the PCN was cancelled.

In the second one the council (NSL) said the motorist never had a residents permit which he, of course, produced a copy of to the adjudicator. Once an adjudicator sees an untruth they tend to turn against that party as they don't know what they can rely on. The PCN was cancelled. Note that you therefore need to stick to the same truthful story throughout all three rounds of challenge.

In the third case a car was partly in a bay and partly on a single yellow line. The PCN was for being parked outside of the bay marking. Here is what the adjudicator said:

It is not disputed that the Appellant's vehicle straddled a shared use bay and a single yellow line. It is also not disputed that the Appellant had a permit entitling him to park in the shared use bay, and that the yellow line was not operational.

The Appellant said that he had made more than one enquiries with the Authority and he had been told that the above manner of parking is permitted. The Authority disagreed. It said that is was not permitted and that even if the advice was given, it was erroneous and the Appellant should have followed the terms and condition on the permit.

Despite the Appellant asserting that parking in such a manner does not constitute a contravention, the Authority has not indicated what provisions in the Traffic Management Order creates such a restriction. I have found a reference to parking outside bay markings in Article 23 of the TMO but the Article also refers to parking places for which special provisions are specified. There are no special provisions specified for the bay at Alba Gardens. There is therefore a reasonably strong argument that no contravention had occurred and that the advice given to the Appellant was correct.

I do not agree that the Authority can disclaim any erroneous advice by reference to its terms and conditions. First of all, the Authority has not provided evidence of the terms and conditions. Secondly and by reason of what I have said above, there is no evidence that such a term and condition is legitimate. Thirdly and bearing in mind that it is a shared use bay, the Authority's argument would mean that the restriction applies to permit users but not those who pay for the parking. The suggestion is untenable. In any event, a general proposition that an enforcement Authority may penalise a motorist who has acted on its erroneous advice cannot be right.

I am allowing the appeal.

If you are telephoning the council for vital advice it might be best to tape the call.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

PATAS - Twixmas + 1

I didn't expect much to be happening at PATAS during this time as the staff and adjudicators deserve a break and who wants to be dealing with parking tickets between Xmas and the New Year? oh yes, councils everywhere as traffic wardens were on the streets as usual.

Adjudicators were off with the odd reported case probably being just a delayed date posting until 2 January when normal service resumed. back office staff processed new Appeals as they are time sensitive and there was a surge in cases from Barnet for some unaccountable reason. Of the 676 new Appeals lodged between Monday 29 Dec and Friday 2 Jan some 60 of them, that is 9%, came from Barnet. Barnet Council only issue 4% of the PCN issued in London and Appeals were therefore twice as numerous at Twixmas than they ought to have been.

There were 13 Appeals decided upon and 9 went the way of the motorist. That is 69% and means that, on the average, it is always worth appealing.

Have a happy 2015 and keep out of the way of traffic wardens.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance.

Friday, 2 January 2015

PATAS - to Xmas 14

From 15 to 23 December 14 there were 1,402 new Appeals lodged at PATAS. Of those, 84 were from Barnet which is 6% and higher than it ought to be if Barnet were equally represented at PATAS as between other London boroughs.

The number of actual hearings for Barnet cases was only 21 and of those 15 were won which is 71% so a number of happy motorists with an early Xmas present (deserved naturally).

Very little to tell you about except these two cases in which I repeat the findings of the adjudicators:

Bunns Lane Car Park

This case revolves around a penalty charge imposed for straddling car park bay markings.

The officer colour photographs regrettably show only half a story.

The other half is illustrated in the photographs taken by the appellant.

The appellant is a highly qualified engineer working for a government agency. There is no question in my mind about any "doctoring" of the photographs she has presented. On the basis of these she has a strong case for penalty charge cancellation.

These illustrate how features do in fact block the neighbouring  space from practical use by other motorists (with the possible exception of solo motorcyclists). There is illustrated in the appellant photographs what appears to me to be a damaged steel structure substantially intruding into that neighbouring space and there is also a post with a rubber movable footing. 

It is my conclusion that given that the that adjoining space cannot be seen in practical terms  as a bay and the perimeter marking at the heart of the Council case has no practical function currently, the straddling of the crucial marking cannot properly underlie a valid penalty charge. I have on that basis decided to allow the present appeal. A different conclusion in my view would be preposterous.

I have decided to record that the angles of the officer photographs do appear to have been selected in a way that I have seen as unfair. I regret that I believe I must comment there is a flavour of deliberate  deception in those officer photographs. I would urge the Council to be hesitant in future about pursuing like penalty charges for straddling the particular surface marking which is critical to its case in this particular appeal.

In any event I have recorded this appeal as allowed.

and then an obscure case about advertising your car for sale:

The allegation in this case is using the vehicle in a parking place in connection with the sale or offering or exposing for sale of goods when prohibited. The Enforcement Authority's case is that the vehicle had a note displayed advertising the vehicle itself for sale. They rely on Article 21. of the relevant Traffic Management Order to establish that this is not permitted.

So obscure is the alleged contravention in this case that this is only the 24th appeal against such a PCN according to PATAS records. I note that these involve only 2 Enforcement Authorities and that London Borough of Barnet appear never to have persuaded an Adjudicator to refuse such an appeal.

For my part I take the view that it might be different if a car dealer were parking a fleet of vehicles for sale at a particular location but in the circumstances of this case it is difficult to discern the mischief at which the prohibition is aimed. If the Enforcement Authority are to enforce such an allegation then they must in my view take positive steps to inform the motorist of the prohibition. In the absence of any evidence to this effect I am not satisfied that the signage of restrictions was substantially compliant, clear and adequate to advertise the prohibition and accordingly I allow the appeal.

What the council haven't yet realised is the difference between using your car for street trading, perhaps with a boot stuffed full of cuddly toys that you offer to passers-by at a fiver a time and the perfectly OK practice of putting a sign in your own car, as a private individual, saying that it is itself for sale. Hopefully one day they will get it.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance