As hard as they try, The British Parking Association Limited (BPA) seem unable to get the public to take their hurriedly cobbled together appeals service (POPLA) seriously.
After receiving a parking invoice from BPA member Highview Parking Ltd, Spiderman (Aka Mr Parker) wrote to the company to dispute his parking ticket, explaining that “he was bitten by a radioactive spider and has the superpower to cancel any parking charge notices issued to him”. Highview Parking rejected Spiderman’s appeal, apparently disbelieving Spidey’s powers to overturn parking tickets.
Spiderman who helps pay the rent for his widowed aunt could not afford to pay Highview Parking’s invoice so he took them to controversial appeals service POPLA.
Spiderman could only ‘Marvel’ at winning his appeal when Shona Watson, one of the fantastic four students who moonlights as a decision maker for POPLA, upheld Spidey’s appeal.
Oh dear, what a web of deceit and a sticky mess for Highview Parking.
Successful Grounds: Visited site twice in one day – first in-last out error
PPC: Highview Parking Ltd
Reasons for the Assessor’s Determination
On 7 February 2013, the Operator issued a parking charge notice because on 26 January 2013 the vehicle with registration mark xxx was recorded via automatic number plate recognition as having stayed in the Yate Shopping Centre Main Car Park for 5 hours 45 minutes, which was longer than the maximum stay of 4 hours.
The Operator’s case is that the terms and conditions are clearly displayed within the site. Copies of the conditions have been produced and state that there is a 4 hour maximum stay. They also state that a failure to comply with the conditions means that a parking charge notice will be issued. The Appellant does not dispute this.
The Appellant made representations, submitting that he had visited the site twice on the date in question, but that the automatic number plate recognition system had not registered his vehicle leaving and then returning to the site. The Appellant produced photographs and receipts that he submits show that the vehicle was elsewhere between 10.30 and 15.49. The photographs are not time or date stamped.
The Appellant’s original representations states that he was bitten by a radioactive spider and has the superpower to cancel any parking charge notices issued to him.
It is noted that the Appellant states that although the Operator’s evidence pack is dated 22 March 2013, it was only sent to him by email on 25 March 2013. However there is no dispute that he received the evidence in good time for this hearing.
It should also be noted that CCTV evidence was sent to us on an unrecognised file format and therefore could not be viewed.
The Operator rejected the representations, as stated in the notice of rejection they sent, because they believe the timings stated on the parking charge notice are correct, andthey were unable to accept the Appellant’s claim that he has superpowers.
The Operator produced images that appear to show the vehicle entering the site at 10.10 on 26 January 2013 and exiting at 15.55 the same day.
However the Operator has not responded to the Appellant’s submission that although he did enter the site at 10.10, he left the site before returning again later in the day and then leaving for the second time at 15.55. For example, the Operator could have provided a search for all the images of the vehicle with registration mark xxx taken on the date in question. The Operator received a copy of the Appellant’s submissions and therefore has had the opportunity to produce evidence to refute them.
It is noted that the Operator has produced representations made by the Appellant in relation to two other parking charge notices, however I am only considering evidence relating to this parking charge notice, number yyy.
I must find as a fact that, on this particular occasion, the Operator has not produced any evidence to refute the Appellant’s submission that he visited Yate Shopping Centre twice on the date in question and therefore did not overstay the maximum stay. I have therefore not been satisfied that there was a breach of the terms and conditions.
Accordingly, this appeal must be allowed.
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Solicitor (S): Good morning Mr Weasel. What can I do for you today?
Parking Weasel Ltd’s Chairman (PWC): I would like to get my hands on the money Nutsville owes me for overstaying in a private car park where me and my company run the parking enforcement.
S: Ok. Just a couple of questions. Are you or your company the land owner?
S: Do you have permission from the land owner to enforce on their land?
S: Do you have a contract with the land owner that establishes their loss?
PWC: It’s not their loss I’m worried about, it’s mine. That Nutsville bloke took me through the whole of that poxy Popla procedure, which incidentally cost me £27 + VAT that I will never see again, and even though his appeal was disallowed by Popla and he was ordered to pay me, he is now ignoring me and telling me that I should sue him in the courts to recover my money.
I’ve sent him loads of letters with BIG, RED SCARY WRITING on, and he still insists that I need to sue him. What I want to know is, now I’ve got my Popla judgment, why can’t I just register it with the court like the local authorities do with their Patas and TPT judgments, and then send my bailiff mates round to threaten him with menaces and make him cough up?
S: Unfortunately for you, Mr Nutsville is right. I will explain. You see, the ADJUDICATORS at Patas and the TPT draw their powers to make judgments on parking issues fom the Traffic Management Act 2004. Under that Act they can effectively make the equivalent of a judgment that a county court judge might make in civil proceedings. It is these equivalent county court judgments that are then registered with the county court (the TEC in Northampton) and which makes them enforceable, normally by way of sending the bailiffs round.
However, no such powers devolve from any Act of Parliament when it comes to Popla. Therefore the Popla ASSESSORS, (who incidentally the No To Mob have found out are actually 4 law students doing a bit of moonlighting) cannot order you to do anything. If someone like Mr Nutsville loses an appeal to Popla there will be a decision that says something like “In order to avoid any further action by the operator, payment of the £80 parking charge SHOULD be made within 14 days.
PWC: That’s right! That’s exactly the decision we got from Popla in the Nuts case, but he won’t pay up and insists I take him to court. So what exactly did I pay all that money to Popla for then?
S: Well nothing really. You see any Popla decision in the operator’s favour isn’t worth the paper it’s written on because it cannot be enforced in a court of law, either against Mr Nutsville, or anyone else come to that. However, if Popla had allowed Mr Nutsville’s appeal then you, like every other BPA Ltd operator in the Approved Operator Scheme, have no other right of appeal and you are bound by the decision of the law student that gave it.
PWC: So basically, what you’re saying is that Popla is just a smoke screen put up by the BPA Ltd in the hope that we can bully people into paying up, and that it has no real power?
S: That about sums it up.
PWC: So what did I pay £27 + VAT for then?
S: Perhaps you should ask the BPA Ltd about that. But anyway, all is not lost. You can still sue Mr Nutsville in the county court provided you can prove you have incurred a loss.
PWC: Now you’re talking! How do I do that then?
S: Well since you are not the land owner, you have to have a contract in place that proves that the land owner has lost money as a result of breaching the contract Mr Nutsville entered into with the land owner when he agreed to pay a Parking Charge for overstaying in the land owner’s car park.
PWC: And for those of us who speak English?
S: (Sigh). Right. Let’s break this down. Who is the landowner?
S: Do you have a contract with them to enforce parking on their land?
S: In short, what are the terms of that contract?
PWC: They let my company dish out as many tickets as we want, then we get to keep most of the profits, and give them the rest.
S: In that case you can’t sue Mr Nutsville.
PWC: Why not?
S: Because you have no loss.
PWC: There you go with that bloody “loss” thing again! I’ve told you, I’VE LOST EIGHTY BLOODY QUID!!!
S: Who did you lose it to?
PWC: I keep telling you. Nutsville!
S: And how did you lose it to him?
PWC: Right! Well he came to the car park and arrived at 11.00am. He admits he read our signs which say that there is free parking for one hour and that if he stays longer he will contract with my company to pay an £80 Parking Charge. Nutsville stayed until 12.30pm and we are now enforcing that contract.
S: So far, so good. Now, if you want to sue Mr Nutsville for recovery in the county court you have to prove in your claim that you have actually lost something. You can’t have lost anything because you are not the landowner. Only the land owner can say they have lost something. You have lost nothing so you can’t sue Mr Nutsville. QED.
PWC: What about if I take him to court anyway, cos I still reckon Nutsville owes me under the contract terms?
S: (Sigh). Ok. Where’s your “genuine pre estimate of loss”.
PWC: There you go with all that legal mumbo jumbo again. What are you on about now?
S: Have you read the BPA Ltd’s code of practice?
PWC: Course I have! I had to sign up to it before I could get access to the DVLA database, which is where I get all those lovely vehicle keeper’s details which allow me to send my scary debt collection agency and solicitor’s letters with BIG, RED SCARY WRITING on.
S: Then because you have read it, you will know that at rule 19.5 of the code of practice it says “If the parking charge that the driver is being asked to pay is for a breach of contract or act of trespass, this charge must be based on the genuine pre-estimate of loss that you suffer.” Obviously the BPA Ltd are aware of this issue or they wouldn’t have put it in their code of practice and then make you sign up to it. So I repeat, where’s your “genuine pre estimate of loss”?
PWC: I dunno. Maybe we ain’t got one.
S: Oh dear! It would seem that YOU are the one in trouble then. I have just proved to you that you cannot prove that you have suffered a loss, and yet the BPA Ltd have made you sign up to the BPA Ltd code that says you have genuinely estimated a figure of £80 as your provable loss. If the DVLA find out about this you will be struck off immediately.
PWC: What! Do the BPA Ltd know about this!?!?
S: Well obviously they do, otherwise they wouldn’t have covered their backs by putting it in their code of conduct. Wait a minute though! There is something the BPA Ltd and you could do to remedy this.
PWC: Please, please tell me what it is. I can’t lose my livelihood.
S: Well I can’t say that it will save your livelihood, but it might help save other BPA Ltd members from making the same mistakes as you.
PWC: Well I do have a load of mates in the industry, so if there is anything I can do to help them, I’m sure it would be much appreciated.
S: In that case, this is what you do. You fess up to the BPA Ltd that you have made a mistake, and tell them that you are trying to rectify it. I hear the No To Mob have a few good ideas about this and that they are already advising some other BPA Ltd members about setting up an alternative to the BPA Ltd. You will have to take your medicine, and hope that because you have owned up, the DVLA will allow you to access the database again once you have cleaned up your act.
PWC: Ok. What then?
S: Then you lobby the BPA Ltd and ask them to invoke their powers to audit each of its members in order to establish whether they have a proper and genuine pre estimate of loss. They could do this by invoking rule 19.8 of their code of practice which states: “If you are asked, you must be able to justify the level of parking charges to the AOS Board, a member of our compliance team or to their specified agent.”
PWC: But what if the auditors find out that none of the BPA Ltd’s members can prove a loss? What happens then?
S: Well then the BPA Ltd would have to report this to the DVLA, and they would have no choice but to suspend any offenders from using their database.
PWC: But why didn’t the BPA Ltd warn me about this? What am I paying them for?
S: Those are questions for the BPA Ltd Mr Weasel, not for me.
PWC: Well how about I let Nutsville off, but continue to send out tickets to others in the full knowledge that some of them won’t be as smart as Nutsville and will pay up under threat of issuing court proceedings, even though I know that I can’t ever bring a successful prosecution in a court of law?
S: My professional opinion is that if someone were to find out, then such behaviour could very possibly be classified as committing a fraud and that you and others could end up going to prison, or at the very least paying a hefty fine.
PWC: Yeh, but you can’t tell them what advice you’ve given to me because of solicitor client privilege, so I can have plausible deniability for a while at least.
S: That’s true, but you have forgotten one thing. What if the BPA Ltd do a proper audit of your books and discover that you don’t have a genuine pre estimate of loss?
PWC: Are you ‘avin a laugh pal!?!? Why would they ever do that when they know that what they might find could result in the vast majority of its members being suspended, possibly permanently, both from the BPA Ltd and from using the DVLA database. Nah mate. Just send me your bill and keep your mouth shut. We just have to hope that Nutsville doesn’t get wind of this, or we’re all up a shit creek without a paddle.
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Yesterday Nutsville received a Letter Before Action (LBA) claiming to be sent on behalf of UK Parking Control Limited.
As so often with members operating in the wild west of the parking industry they have decided to issue legal threats to Nutsville, rather than deal directly with us over any concerns they may have had.
So here is the email we received from B P Collins LLP Solicitors, with their text in red and our thoughts in black.
By Email to email@example.com and by email and post to Mr Thomas Sheldren, 49 Hallam Street, London, W1W 6JW LETTER BEFORE COURT ACTION
Dear Mr Sheldren / Operator of “www.nutsville.com”. My firm acts on behalf of UK Parking Control Limited. It is understood that you own the website known as “www.nutsville.com“.
Oh no he doesn’t
On your website there is currently an article referring to my client, together with a number of pictures. The article is at : http://nutsville.com/?p=4177.
My client informs me that the information contained on your website was obtained by a third party, or third parties, without legal authority to do so. The information was then posted on a website called “www.pepipoo.com”.
This was in breach of the Data Protection Act,(http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents) and also in breach of the Computer Misuse Act, due to the fact that some material was obtained by using a password, without authorisation, to access their website. The relevant section of the Act is at :http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/18/section/1
Really, and we thought it was UKPC who may have breached the Data Protection Act, that was kind of what our blog post was about. But that’s OK then, as we didn’t obtain our information from www.pepipoo.com. The images we used in our blog post http://nutsville.com/?p=4177 were not obtained from any forum, and neither were the images we used behind any form of username/password protection, not even a silly password such as ‘test’. So why are UKPC wasting our time telling us about some percieved wrong doings performed by a third party?
My client is in the process of informing the police of the crime which has been committed against them.
Good for them, but what crime? So this is a criminal matter then, lets hope they don’t get done for wasting police time.
My client anticipates that you and your website are innocent parties and were unaware at the time the material was posted that it was obtained illegally.
Hooray, we’re innocent then.
However, you are now aware of the factual position and your actions/inactions hereon may expose you to a damages claim by my client.
We are not aware of any factual position because we haven’t been provided with any facts yet, but carry on.
You will appreciate my client is taking this issue very seriously.
Good, glad UKPC are taking something seriously, pity it wasn’t website security.
Accordingly, in light of the above my client requests the removal from your website by 10 am tomorrow, 2 April 2013, the article referred to at http://nutsville.com/?p=4177.
Ahh, so UKPC would like the whole blog post removed then, so this is what this letter is about. UKPC are trying to cover this up, is that why there is no notice on their website apologising to their customers (as the president of the British Parking Association likes to call them) for publishing all those customer details?
If you decide not to do so my client will have no option other than to inform the police of your involvement in this matter and to bring injunctive High Court proceedings against you to request that a Court orders the removal of the material, together with an order for my client’s costs. My client’s sincere hope is that this will not be necessary in the circumstances. For the avoidance of doubt I appreciate that today is a bank holiday. However, it is clear from your website that you posted the material which is referred to in this email on Saturday, 30 March 2013, and therefore my client considers this request is reasonable, and achievable, taking into account the seriousness of the crime which has been committed against them.
Inform the Police , ahh so we are now being accused of a undertaking a criminal act. What crime, they haven’t told us what crime, but if we are off to the High Court as well, doesn’t make it a civil case, not a criminal case?
Furthermore, my client requests you to confirm to me by email that you and/or “www.nutsville.com” undertake not repost (or post) on “www.nutsville.com” any material obtained from “ww.pepipoo.com” or from any other source in relation to the matter referred to in this email.
Oh dear, this very blog post is referring to ‘the matter’, opps we’ve done it again. But UKPC are also trying to tell us we cannot post any material obtained from Pepipoo. Who do these people think they are trying to tell us we can’t use pepipoo.com for source material, which we didn’t for the http://nutsville.com/?p=4177 post anyway.
However, in this regard, it would be reasonable for you to take independent legal advice, should you wish to do so, and therefore my client requests that you confirm your position regarding providing the requested undertaking within the next 7 days, i.e. by 4pm on 8 April 2013.
Oh for gawd sake, is this an April fools joke, one minute we have until 10am today to pull down our blog post, now it’s the 8th of April.
In the meantime, my client reserves its position against you and/or “www.nutsville.com”. I confirm that on the basis the material referred to in this email is removed from www.nutsville.comby the deadline requested,…
….not reposted, and no further posting made of any material obtained from www.pepipoo.com or any other third party regarding this matter and you provide the undertaking referred to above no court proceedings will be brought against you by my client.
I look forward to hearing from you positively by 10 am tomorrow, 2 April 2013.
Hope they were following us on Twitter this morning.
Partner & Practice Group Leader / Litigation and Dispute Resolution
For and on behalf of B P Collins LLP Solicitors www.bpcollins.co.uk T – 01753 279 039 F – 01753 889276 Collins House 32-38 Station Road Gerrards Cross Bucks SL9 8EL
So that was the comedy solicitors letter we received, which jumped between civil and criminal matters. Gave no reason for demanding the whole blog post be taken down. Told us not to use material from a forum completely unconnected with with our blog post or Nutsville.
Just another load of parking industry bullies, used to threatening people.
The BPA have a long way to go to try to make the parking industry respectable. Sadly as we write this the BPA on their twitter account are trying to claim the UKPC website was hacked. Yet our blog post used images which were behind no security at all, open to all on the Internet with a web browser, which is why UKPC have been reported to the ICO.
Perhaps the BPA can’t afford to lose any more of those lovely membership fees, what with them already having to dip in to their reserve fund to prop up the failing POPLA.
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Yesterday members of the Money Saving Expert (MSE) forum exposed a serious data protection breech on the website of UK Parking Control Limited (UKPC) who are a parking enforcement company.
It first became apparent that thousands of photos taken by the company were on public view. We have blurred out sensitive parts of the following images.
The photos revealed many vehicles snapped with a UKPC parking invoice slapped on them, Also amongst the photos were car owners returning to their cars, tax discs and even identity cards with photos, full names along with matching signatures.
In what seems a rather sinister move, many of the photographs were of the interiors of customers vehicles, showing off the public’s personal belongings.
At least one of UKPC’s operatives seems to operate mostly from his bed, and scattered throughout the collection of photos were perhaps an inside glimpse as to how UKPC operate as this photo shows.
A UKPC operative at work taking his invoice printout machine to bed.
Other photos reveal sensitive UKPC documents scattered on a bed.
The tag line on the UKPC website is “The Parking Professionals” , with the company boasting it has G4S, KFC, Tescos, Blockbuster and Pizza Hut as its clients.
With regard to data security UKPC say on their website under the heading ‘Guarding against data misuse’;
“In 2006 we introduced strict new measures to protect vehicle keepers against misuse of their details”
UKPC go on to say they have introduced additional safeguards, stating;
“Even with our existing measures to protect data against misuse, concerns about private car parking companies and interest in the disclosure of data to them have continued. We have responded to those concerns and have introduced additional new restrictions to safeguard the information we manage.”
Or simply put, an omni-shambles approach to customers data.
Perhaps to add a touch of some kind of legitimacy to their operation UKPC display official looking badges at the bottom of most of their web pages.
Funny that, as The Institute of Parking Professionals was disbanded in November last year, which was a body set up by the British Parking Association limited (BPA).
As members of the BPA, UKPC have access to the DVLA database, to allow them to look up members of the public’s name and address details. By the looks of the photographs we’ve seen today, these DVLA looks-ups can be done from a laptop in the bedroom.
In February this year the chief executive of the DVLA said their was a case to allow trusted parties to update the DVLA database, as the president of the BPA (Anjna Patel aka Kira Fleck) asked the DVLA if their members could update the DVLA’s database.
It seems to us that once again the BPA are unable to regulate their own members, do we really want to see companies like UKPC fiddling with our records held at the DVLA?
Supposing they get distracted whilst changing your DVLA address details by their huge flat screen TV or their exotic pig in a basket.
A Star Trek fan?
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In a bizarre twitter spat the British Parking Association Ltd (BPA Ltd) lost the plot after taking on Nutsville yesterday.
It began with the BPA Limited tweeting a link to it’s latest blog post by Patrick Troy, the BPA’s Chief Executive.
Troy’s blog post attempts to boost moral of the parking sector concerned with enforcing parking on private land. Six months ago when the Government outlawed the practice of clamping vehicles parked on private land a new appeals service was set up at great expense to the tax payer by London Councils. We covered the story of what was to be known as POPLA in this post.
It seems from Troy’s blog post that things have not gone smoothly for POPLA, with him ending his ‘come on cheer up folks’ piece by telling his members not to listen to bloggers who are attempting to spoil the party.
“I often hear members of the Approved Operator Scheme expressing concern about bloggers’ attempts to undermine the work that the sector has done in raising standards. What I would say is listen to the legitimate organisations that represent a far wider constituency of opinion and you will hear a very different story: one which understands the challenges of the sector and recognises that it is trying to do the best for the motorist.“
We don’t think it’s wrong to inform motorists that appeal decisions made by POPLA are not legally binding. In fact there is no contract for POPLA just a letter of intent, another headache for London Councils. Page 40 of their draft contract even goes on to say “This level of competence recognises both the level of legal decision making needed and the fact that any decisions made are not binding”. Hence why POPLA has decisions and NOT adjudications.
But perhaps Patrick Troy’s blog post was more about trying to get members of BPA Limited to pay their dues, as this paragraph from leaked BPA Limited council meeting minutes reveals:
“There has been some member concern in relation to costs, especially POPLA, and there has been some difficulty persuading around 20% to pay.”
We replied to the BPA’s tweet with this;
Looks like we touched a nerve as the BPA Limited tweeted back:
Poor old BPA Limited, perhaps their members have been complaining about the BPA’s own bloggers and not us after all, as you will see if you read on just how good the BPA Limited are at putting their own foot in their mouth.
So we then wonder just how much effect campaigners are having on the BPA Limited as we had recently learnt the BPA Limited had suddenly pulled an article from its industry magazine ‘Parking News’ at the last minute. The BPA Limited had asked campaign group the No To Mob to write an article for them to be included in this April’s edition of the magazine. The No To Mob agreed to this, providing the article would appear unedited and could be on any aspect of the industry they choose.
The BPA Limited accepted this, and on receipt of the piece said they were happy with it. It looked as if the article would be published in time for the UK’s biggest parking trade show next month, PARKEX.
But then the BPA Limited went back on their promise indicating that because of their trade show, Parkex there would be no room for the article after all. When Sarah Juggins editor of Parking News was asked by the No To Mob if it was an editorial decision to pull the article she said “no it was board decision”.
Then later in a conversation with the No To Mob ,Kelvin Reynolds the BPA’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs claimed the reason for the article being pulled was; “it would get the backs up of their members”.
However in yesterdays twitter spat with Nutsville the BPA Limited came up with yet another reason for not sticking to its promise to publish the No To Mob article , claiming the article is ‘full of inaccuracies”.
The BPA Limited then went on in another tweet to take a swing at Parking Cowboys, Nutsville and the No To Mob suggesting that we make “speculative, ill informed judgements not based on facts..”.
We then point out to the BPA Limited that some of our facts came from them after the BPA Limited forgot to put sensitive membership documents in a secure area, instead publishing the whole lot not once but twice for anyone to view on the web.
This is an organisation whose members are entrusted with access to the DVLA database, and is expected to look after the data they obtain about the motorists the BPA’s members intend to issue PCN’s and bailiffs with follow up court actions.
The BPA’s reply was to suggest they have nothing to hide, but we do.
We ask the BPA Limited to put up or shut up.
We also ask them about their own president who hides behind a false name, as covered in our recent post here:
Then it seems the BPA Limited realise they have made a PR blunder and we think they have wisely called it a day, so we tweet.
Today, just as we are about to tuck into our three Shredded wheat the BPA Limited sends us another tweet. It looks like they’re back for round two trying to defend their false name giving ex parking warden of a president:
Our three replies back to the BPA Limited below speak for themselves, needless to say at the time of writing this blog post the BPA Limited seem to have got cold feet and have not been gracious enough to answer our questions.
We now have permission from the No To Mob to publish their article which the BPA Limited promised to publish in next months Parking News but instead spiked expecting the No To Mob to agree to edit it so as not to upset BPA members.
Well as the BPA Limited say, they have nothing to hide.
Here is what the BPA Limited didn’t want their membership to read:
Introducing the No To Mob
We have been variously described in the media as a “biker-gang,” “vigilantes,” “Robin Hoods,” or “superheroes” all of which make us cringe when we hear them. The fact is, we consider ourselves to be a group/Mob of ordinary people who are standing up and saying No To the injustices we encounter on a daily basis. It just so happens it is the parking industry that has attracted most of our attention at this time, and we are grateful and pleasantly surprised that we have been allowed to present our concerns over the workings of the parking industry in one of its leading journals.
Our recent appearance in the BBC1 film “Parking Mad” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYb2PIAw_Ps ) struck a chord with the general public, many of whom have arrived independently at the same conclusion as the NoToMob, which is that the industry has lost focus on what it should be trying to achieve, i.e. road safety and enhancement of traffic flow, and its focus is now firmly on one thing, and one thing only. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.
As a result of NoToMob interventions in Westminster, Hemel Hempstead, Southwark and Richmond, where we pointed out the failures of those enforcement authorities and their contractors/advisers regarding problems with CCTV, signs and lines, and Traffic Management Orders etc., local authorities have paid back a total of approximately £2.8m to motorists they have unlawfully penalised. We do not so much consider these as successes for the NoToMob, but more as failures by those seeking to hold others to account, who at the same time fail in their own duty of care towards those they purport to serve.
One of the things that got us looking more closely at the parking industry were the constant reports in the press of “Rogue Clampers” and their overenthusiastic enforcement methods. It turns out that a number of these so called “rogues” were actually members of the British Parking Association Ltd (BPA Ltd). Clearly though, BPA Ltd didn’t succeed in curtailing its members’ activities, because in October last year the Government passed legislation that didn’t stop at simply banning clamping on private land, it actually outlawed the practice. This is a clear indication of the failure of BPA Ltd, a company that actively seeks the respect of the Government and the industry it advises.
Then there are the bailiffs, many of whom are BPA Ltd members, and a number of whom have been the subject of investigations relating to some very sharp practices indeed. It seems that BPA Ltd and enforcement authorities have again failed to rein in their representatives in the field, because the Government is about to intervene once again by bringing in new legislation that will succeed where BPA Ltd and enforcement authorities have failed so dismally.
When outlawing clamping, the Government threw the industry a bone in the shape of further legislation regarding “Recovery of unpaid parking charges.” This is the industry’s chance to prove that it can succeed where it has previously failed. The measure of success must surely be gauged by the lack of attention to this area in the press, and yet week after week we are seeing stories of parking companies using overenthusiastic enforcement methods (sound familiar?) to boost their income. We are waiting to see if the industry will step in to curb these abuses, but given past failures we remain unconvinced that this will happen.
So where do we think the industry has got it so wrong? Perhaps it would be wise to listen to the words of Ms Caroline Sheppard, the Chief Adjudicator at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT). Towards the end of Parking Mad she states “There needs to be trust between the citizens in their cars and the authorities. At present it doesn’t always appear that that trust exists on either side.” You may not agree with Ms Sheppard, but given that she sees both sides of many stories on a daily basis, it would be dangerous to dismiss her vast experience in this field.
From the NoToMob’s viewpoint, and from the viewpoint of the many members of the public who openly show their support for us, Ms Sheppard is absolutely correct in that we definitely do not trust an industry that makes a living by finding ever more ingenious (some would say devious) ways to extract cash from motorists if they make the slightest mistake. Add to that deep public resentment over the growing use of CCTV and ANPR for enforcement purposes together with unease over how this impinges on our civil liberties, and you will understand the gaping chasm that now stands between the public and the parking industry.
We recognise that those in the business of traffic enforcement will find it challenging to earn and retain the trust of those it enforces against, and we fully accept that proportionate and reasonable enforcement is absolutely necessary. However, the problem really starts when we witness an industry that is rewarded by its failures. We are repeatedly told by people in the industry that “we would be delighted if we never had to issue another ticket”, and yet we see stories in the press time and again of box junctions and bus lanes etc. raking in millions of pounds in penalties, year on year. How can the public have confidence in an industry that is clearly making its profits from the enforcement of defective schemes?
One glaring example of this was in Hemel Hempstead where Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) installed CCTV cameras to enforce a bus gate. This was designed, and enforcement was managed, by HCC’s contractors. When enforcement started, PCNs to the value of £20,000 were being issued each day. We visited the site about 5 weeks after commencement and immediately identified the problems with the scheme. We wrote to the council, giving details of the problems with the traffic management order, the signs and the road markings, and were told that the “expert” advice the council had received said that we were wrong and they were right.
However, the matter was later examined by Ms Caroline Sheppard. She adjudicated on two sample PCNs, one for each direction in the bus gate. She also visited the site to see the situation for herself, following which she allowed both appeals. Her grounds for allowing the appeals were exactly those that we had pointed out to the council some 6 weeks after enforcement commenced. As a result the council had to refund in excess of £1m of unlawfully derived income to those it had failed so badly.
So why should we trust an industry that is letting down those it purports to serve? The NoToMob are attempting to bridge the chasm between us by identifying what it perceives to be problems, but in turn we are repeatedly rebuffed or ignored or ridiculed. We are then forced to ask ourselves the question that the industry will not ask of itself. Isn’t it, in reality, ALL ABOUT THE MONEY?
Those involved in the parking industry should understand that we are merely answering the Prime Minister’s call for a “Big Society”. We will hold local authorities and their contractors to account. We will also hold to account those responsible for unlawful practices in the private parking industry, evidence of which we have already found.
The following is a list of just some of the areas the NoToMob are currently investigating. Access to DVLA database, the Approved Operator Scheme, POPLA, TMOs, signs, ANPR and unlawful data storage, abuse of DPA 1998, unlawful use of CCTV, unlawful bailiff fees, and local authority contract procurement. We have already found numerous problems in these areas.
WE ARE WATCHING YOU.
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Today The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has said it will investigate expenses claims submitted by MP Nadine Dorries.
A statement on IPSA’s website says; “The Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has reason to believe that Ms Nadine Dorries MP may have been paid an amount under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses that should not have been allowed”.
You may remember the publicity seeking MP from last years appearance on I’m a Celebrity in Australia, which she took time off from her parliamentary duties. Or perhaps you may remember when she described David Cameron and George Osborne as “two arrogant posh boys” with “no passion to want to understand the lives of others” back in April 2012.
It just happens that a page has mysteriously been deleted from Nadine Dorries’ blog today.
The page has been automatically archived by the way back when machine website, which reveals the deleted page is a post where Nadine gives her thoughts on the loss of her IPSA handbook, where she wrote;
“In walked a gust of wind. It lifted my idiots guide to IPSA right up from my desk and into the air. It took it all the way across the room up and out of the balcony doors straight onto the Atrium roof – where I can’t reach it. And there I think it shall stay.”
We’re sure the two things happening on the same day are purely a coincidence, but you can’t just put the Internet into a shredder.
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In January 2013 the BBC broadcast a documentary showing the activities of various parking campaigners around the UK titled ‘Parking Mad’.
One part of the documentary followed the plight of disabled pensioner Les Powell who had been given a parking ticket for parking on a single yellow line outside his bank in Cradley. Les maintained that his disabled blue badge which allows him to park on single yellow lines was on display in his car at the time a Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) issued a parking ticket.
The CEO was working on behalf of APCOA the outsourcing parking enforcement contractor, who were under contract by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. The pensioner had appealed to the council, but they rejected the appeal insisting that the pensioner had not displayed his disabled badge.
Les Powell was forced by Sandwell MBC to take his appeal to the Traffic Penalty’s Tribunal. Like a dog with a bone Sandwell MBC pulled out all the stops to get their pound of flesh, and in a extremely unusual move arrived at the tribunal to fight the ticket with not only the CEO but also Sandwell’s head of parking who appeared on camera using the fake name of Kira Fleck. Could it be that Flecks amazing appearance at the tribunal was to bask in front of the TV cameras, or was it her special interest in the disabled that flushed her out from the anonymity of her council desk?
Before the tribunal scene ‘ Kira Fleck’ sat at her council desk wearing her best ‘say cheese’ smile condescendingly telling us she is out to ‘educate us’ “ British people are very good, and they like to abide by the rules. and it’s only a small minority that doesn’t comply and they are the ones we really need to educate.” Educate – That would be by taking £70 off a disabled pensioner.
The following scene from the documentary shows the tribunal presided over by the chief adjudicator Caroline Shepard, who also refers to Sandwell’s head of parking as Ms Fleck. Amazingly we see Fleck left staring intensely at a page of four photos taken by the CEO as Shepard questions that as it’s normal to take a close up photo of the cars dashboard, why wasn’t it done on this occasion?
No good explanation was forthcoming from either Kira Fleck or from the uncomfortable looking CEO.
By this point Caroline Shepard had enough of the Sandwell double act and ruled in favour of Mr Powell.
The game is up, in more ways than one, as Kira Flecks’ seemly ego driven desire to be on the telly reveals to members of the campaign group No To Mob her true identity as figurehead of the association representing the giant multi million pound parking industry.
Kira Fleck also reveals in the documentary that she thinks of motorists as customers, and under questioning she agrees that she sees motorists as having a ‘business relationship’ with her council.
To understand why a civil servant views parking enforcement as a business we need to reveal who Kira Fleck really is, along with her relationships with the multi-million pound parking industry.
So who really is Sandwell’s head of parking?
We can reveal that Kira Fleck is really Anjna Morarji Patel in her other more glamorous life as the British Parking Association Ltd., (BPA) mouthpiece, president and director.
Anjna Patel was born in the back of a Land Rover in a Ugandan forest in November 1957. Good job that Land Rover didn’t pull over in today’s Britain for her Mother to give birth, with CEO’s pushed to earn their ticket targets sloppily issuing speculative parking tickets. With motorist learning that medical emergencies are not sometimes grounds for an appeal. As appeals get rejected by hard faced council heads of parking hiding behind fake identities, eager to reject appeals even from the elderly and disabled, pursuing them all the way to tribunals. Well perhaps it must be quicker to reject an appeal, especially if you have important BPA business to attend to in your tax payer funded office.
Patels’ family moved to England in 1976 and by 1979 she started to work as a traffic warden. which began her long career in the then fledgling parking industry.
Before parking was decriminalised in 1991 all parking enforcement was done by wardens employed by the police, so Anjna Patel was stationed at West Bromwich Police Station. We note though in the BPAs version of Patels bio they claim that Patel started work as a traffic warden for Sandwell Council in 1979. (view source)
After quickly being promoted to a supervisor role, she ended up working around Birmingham city centre.
After nine years and reaching the level of area controller Patel moved back to Sandwell working in the road safety department.
In 2000 Sandwell Council took over parking enforcement from the Police and Patel moved to the councils parking department.
In July 2006 Anjna Patel was made a director of the The British Parking Asociation Ltd., whilst back at Sandwell Council Patel’s alter ego ‘Kira Fleck’ was by now deputy parking manager.
Then in 2007 Anjna Patel wins her own associations award, the BPA Parking Person of the Year trophy, but perhaps they should have renamed it ‘Parking Persons’, so that ‘Kira Fleck’ didn’t feel left out.
Charity or just plain old unashamed PR
It was at Patel’s award ceremony in March 2007 that she announced she wanted start a charity to raise money for disabled solders, her motivation clear when when she proclaimed “We are going to raise the profile of parking.”
Patel/Fleck is joined on the charity walk by her partner Roy Jones, and fellow parking industry mates Adel Harrow from Drakes bailiffs,Tracy Cox from JBW bailiffs, Paul Moorby director of Chipside along with Cheryl Vickers and Dave Smith from Newlyn bailiffs.
Patel’s charity was set up under the name of Parasol Charity and registered (1122315) with the Charity Commission.
2008 was a busy year for the Parasol Charity with its website listing fund raising events with a golf day in July, a charity bike ride in August 2008 culminating in a two team event they called the three peaks challenge in September 2008. Taking part in the first team of the three peaks challenge were fellow parking industry BPA members listed as Chris Pullen and Neal Hinwicks of APCOA, Alastair Gilchrist then working as Westminster’s director of parking, Robin Bevan of mobile parking payment firm Verrus, Jamie Waller of bailiff firm JBW; and Russell Jones, Patels’ son.
Anjna Patel led the second team members which included Cheryl Vickers from Newlyn Bailiffs, Paul Moorby and Simon Cheung of IT parking specialist Chipside, APCOA Parking’s Russell Peacock.
Kevin McCarthy firm Newlyn bailiffs also offered to provide two helicopters to ferry team members between the peaks. Well what self respecting bailiff company doesn’t have a couple of helicopters knocking around. What’s next bailiffs swooping down from the sky at the crack of dawn in a giant Chinook to hoist away some poor motorists car to hold a ransom for an unpaid parking ticket.
As we know some bailiff companies feel they can add anything they like to their victims debt burden, so adding the cost of running Airwolf to debtors invoices would not raise any eyebrows at local councils, who much prefer to look the other way.
Lets hope the cost of helicopter fuel was at least slightly less than any charity money raised.
Kira Fleck or Anjna Patel BPA president
We don’t know how much each of these events raised, because on the Parasol Charity website there are no amounts given for each event or any published annual reports. The charity is so secretive they won’t even provide a postal address.
A visit to the Charity Commission website shows it does state that the Parasol Charity are a mere 1184 days overdue in producing it its annual returns for 2008.
The Charity Commission’s view is that transparency of reporting is increasingly important in charity management. Funding bodies and the wider public demand evidence of efficient stewardship of the funds they donate,
Nevertheless the Parasol Charity wins a special award at the 2008 BPA backed British Parking Awards. A page now appears on the BPA’s web site promoting the presidents charity.
What does this say about the Prime Minsters policy on transparency in Local Government?
At the BPA’s trade show ‘Parkex’ 2009 we find Anjna Patel not Kira Fleck listed as the Deputy Parking Manager of Sandwell Council giving a talk on ‘Managing Reputations in Good Times and Bad’.
Parasol Charity website is sponsored and hosted by IT parking specialist Chipside. After one of its directors took part alongside Anjna Patel in one of its charity fund raisers.
The BPA’s website contact page shows the email address for Anjna Patel using a domain name (parkingmanager.co.uk) owned by IT parking specialist Chipside.
In August 2010 Anjna Patel turns up at Sandwell Council as the lead officer providing a contract extension to IT parking specialist Chipside. The £41,257 36 month contract award was exempt from any contract procedure rules. (view source )
After pushing a deal like that through we would feel a little bit dirty like we had walked away from our usual lamppost at the end of a long hard night counting the cash that has been stuffed into our garter belt.
In December 2010 it’s announced that Kira Fleck/Anjna Patel has won a promotion to head of parking at Sandwell Council. At the same time we learn that Patel is to become the British Parking Association’s president for 2012-2013.
Anjna Patel was inaugurated as the new BPA President for 2012/13 after Kira Fleck took on pensioner Les Powell at the parking tribunal. Patel gave her first speech as BPA President using the name Anjna Patel at the evening’s reception at The House of Commons Terrace, Westminster.
Anne McGuire MP and co-chair of the All-party group on Disability hosted the House of Commons knees up.
When Nutsville spoke to Anjna Patel she was at Sandwell Council, and gave her Sandwell Council email address as the only one to send her BPA related matters too. Yet she maintains her work for the BPA is entirely separate from her council business.
What, more awards ahead
The BPA have already announced the nominees for this years parking awards, so we find some familiar names nominated for the “Parking in the Community” award. It’s none other than Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council with APCOA Parking, Keltic Clothing, Newlyn Bailiffs: Working together for you!
A stink of nepotism
Whilst we are not suggesting anyone has broken any laws in this post, there seems to us a clear whiff of nepotism. It should be clear that all tax payer funded civil servants with huge influence such as Anjna Patel should never be allowed to join lobby groups such as Limited companies like the BPA.
The temptation not to stick by the rules maybe too much for some, and we would hate to see them have to undergo Anjna Patel’s answer to rule breakers – education.
Other members of the British Parking Association Ltd., are now being closely scrutinised by the No To Mob on hunt for their skeletons.
After this weeks (8th Jan 2013) broadcast on BBC 1 of the documentary (Parking Mad) about parking campaigners, you may wonder what the so called parking industry thought of how they came out of it.
Most of the UK’s parking industry are members of the British Parking Association (BPA), and it’s from some of their members all of the following comments have come from:-
“There is a lesson here for all parking managers and Cabinet Members.”
“No matter what assurances that you are given, if you are talked into participating in parking related documentaries, you could be on a hiding to nothing.”
“Unfortunately Apcoa had a PR disaster last night, with an obviously undertrained CEO being subject to very basic scrutiny and not faring too well. It was not the fault of the individual, but those who prepared for the filmed TPT case.”
“What the program could do however is to portray and stereotype all CEOs as being incompetent and under skilled. I expect there is very little sympathy among parking professionals for the lone crusader who has racked up £40,000 in costs at the High Court, and now looks as though he will have to sell his house.”
“The message is clear – all local authorities must be more proactive with their lines and signs. It is frustrating for all of us to lose adjudications on loopholes, but it happens and will continue to happen until we all get our houses in order. My final thought is that the program will encourage the growth in PCN challenges, and that is a costly exercise for all of us. the more robust and compliant are our lines & signs and the quality of our PCNs, the higher the odds of a positive outcome at adjudication”
“Like a great deal of my colleagues working in parking across Local Authorities, I sat down last night to watch the Parking Mad Documentary on BBC 1. The following 50 minutes was, on a positive note, good entertaining TV that produced emotion and discussion. It was though, a poor documentary that was inbalanced in its argument, factually vacant and was more akin to a low budget production on Channel 5 than the BBC.”
“I suspect that all the balancing arguments are on the floor of the cutting room. However, the production company, as I stated above, had produced good entertaining TV. The main problems I have are that the Council’s were poorly representated, and there was not enough time spent on why enforcement is needed in terms of safety and also the ring fencing of revenue created from penalty charge notices. Not only is the potential damage to the industry as a whole, the program clearly invited un-warranted penalty charge notice appeals.”
“In terms of TPT, since joining the industry, and having some legal experience, I have vocalised the need for Parking Teams across the country to upskill in dealing with the adjudicators and have a greater understanding of rules governing evidence and burden of proof. But that is a discussion for another day, but I am working on a proposal. Unlike others, I don’t think TPT is biased, but I do believe that we as an “industry” need to improve in terms of handling of the cases.”
“The programme, in my opinion, made several local authorities look foolish, and I imagine that was only two of a great number of cases that they filmed. We also as an industry need to improve communication to the general public, because actions groups such as those details last night, are produced with well meaning intentions but acting on a semi-informed basis”
“I haven’t seen yet but will watch with interest this evening. I have to say, with experience of a previous role in managing evening and night time economy, that their was, sorry to appear cynical, only ever going to be one outcome. The BBC is only interested in creating entertainment and the same assurances of impartiality etc etc were put forward many times when the BBC wanted to film night life, stating they wanted to promote the partnership work between Councils, CCTV and police… surprise surprise is ended up being lots of drunken people doing things I won’t describe and, whilst the same behaviour every city experiences, ultimately damaging to the reputation of any city.”
“It would be excellent to think we could establish a relationship with such a body as the BBC to promote a balanced showing of the challenges we face in parking however, in my experience, the local media is challenging enough; but heres to hope for the future.”
“I would however add weight to some comments I’ve read stating that their really is onus on us all to ensure highway markings are clear and CEO’s only issuing where practacable; don’t get me wrong we have enough of a challenge keeping on top of this ourselves and still have much more work to do. I await to see any formal response from TPT/BPU to support the industry; but being realistic their isn’t going to be a re-run”
The above comments are a selection of comments from individuals within the parking industry, and they are not speaking on behalf of their respective companies, but they do give a rare and candid insight to the parking industry’s true reaction to the documentary.
At least they had their right to reply, and they should now be aware they are being watched more closely than some of them may have thought.
Perhaps it is to be expected that the parking industry seems to think they didn’t get a fair crack of the whip, as a few of the comments are a bit crabby.
But some of the nicest people have crabs, as the following clip from the documentary explains:-
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You have to wonder if it’s really worth councils using CCTV spy cars to bring in extra cash these days, as more and more councils found themselves having their accounts and contracts put under excruciatingly ball shrivelling examination last year.
Southend Council is the latest council to feel the pain, as the following article from the local Evening Echo reveals. The pain is being applied from a mystery group of objectors. Perhaps they don’t like councils who arrogantly try to justify their use of CCTV spy cars to the taxpaying public for their safety, and nothing whatsoever to do with raising revenue for cash greedy inefficient councils.
Now who could this un-named group of objectors be, and do you think Southend Council patronisingly refer to them as ‘customers’?
No, not when you see in the eyes of a petty council functionary the penny slowly dropping as it dawns on him he’s been found out by someone who knows his job better than his own inflated ego has led him to believe all these years, as we have witnessed at some unnamed councils.
Spy car row delays councils accounts
An opponent of Southend’s spy cars is blocking council chiefs from signing off their annual accounts.
The unarmed objector has sparked disruption at the Civic Centre by questioning the way Southend Council has categorised its income from the vehicles.
The two CCTV equipped cars have been a controversial addition to the borough since their introduction in July 2011.
The income from the vehicles was published for the first time in the council’s 2011/12 accounts.
The financial statements were due to be signed off by the authority and its auditor, PFK, this month.
However, under British law, taxpayers have the right to challenge the way a council has compiled its accounts if they feel they are wrong.
It is not clear exactly what the objection is, but Zulfiqar Ali, the council’s strategic highways and traffic manager said he was trying to resolve it.
He added: “We have been liaising closely with those who raised issues about CCTV and related matters.
“We have met with them to clarify the situation, and have provided the requested information, so we are hopeful that this matter will shortly be resolved successfully”.
A related story from the BBC of a woman caught for just 8 seconds by CCTV facing a bill of over £600, and the hunt for the missing wheel clamp:
The 5 day walkout planned for next week by Camden Councils Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) has been called off after successful negotiations over pay.
Further talks took place between the CEOs union Unison and Camdens’ parking enforcement contractor NSL Services. The outsourcing company has agreed to increase the pay of the CEOs..
With 80% of the workforce now members of Unison there was a strong willingness on the part of the CEO’s shown in the vote for strike action, for the third time this year. But with just days to go before the walkout NSL have now agreed to increase the CEOs pay by 4%, backdated to 01 September, with a 3% increase from 01 April 2013. After a further pay increase of 3% from 01 April 2014 it means their basic hourly wage will rise from a current £8.09 to £8.92 per hour from April 2014.
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