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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Ticketed (and embarrassed) for misunderstanding online permit renewal

I share this story with a certain trepidation about admitting to having been a dummie, but do so because it's unlikely that I'm the only one to have fallen foul of the new online permit renewal system. 

My last resident's parking permit expired on 10th April (yesterday). Having received a reminder, I duly renewed it online on 2nd April. I had at the back of my mind that I would end the process with a printed permit. However, at the end of the online process I wasn't presented with an obvious 'print permit' button or anything. I can't remember exactly why now, but I concluded that the permit would be sent.

This morning a neighbour dinged me on HoL's chat function to alert me to the fact that he'd seen a penalty ticket on my car. I reassured him that it was okay because I'd applied for my renewal. He responded that you can now print them. I thought, "Yeah, that's what I thought". Quite why I didn't question or challenge the failure to be offered a printed permit at the end of my online renewal, I'm not sure, but I didn't. I concluded that my original idea that I'd get a print-out was wrong and put the whole thing to the back of my mind.

Once I'd discovered the error of my ways this morning, I tried to print out my permit online, but was unable to. (I found out later that you only get one chance to do so. Could this be what happened to me; I missed my chance?). So I called the parking permits department and spoke to a helpful young lady who arranged to have a pdf emailed to me. That's now displayed. 

The lady at parking permits also mentioned that lots of people are having a problem printing the permits out. I'm sure some of them will have got tickets like me. That's why I'm risking embarrassment and posting on this. Needless to say, I'd feel aggrieved at having the penalty notice enforced for myself, but I also feel for the others who may have suffered the same fate. Can net-savvy, computer literate me really be the only one?

I'm also wondering about the timing of the ticket. My last permit expired at midnight. My ticket was issued at 08:47. I find it highly unlikely that the wardens inspect the details of every permit on every pass. So, I guess either there's a central flagging system where wardens are alerted to expiring permits or as individuals they're noting permits due for expiry. Whilst their efficiency is to be applauded (and we'd all be delighted if it was replicated in all parts of the Council), I'm not sure that jumping on law-abiding rate-paying residents for a minor infringement with such alacrity sends the right message or builds the right relationship.

It goes without saying that I've appealed against my PCN and I hope posting here won't count against me. Once that's dealt with, I'll no doubt be motivated to find out how widespread the issue of penalty notices occasioned by the new online system is and to beter understand the policy or practice which speeds a warden to my door only hours after my last permit expired.


Tags for Forum Posts: parking, parking permits

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Hugh, I don't see any reason why you should be embarrassed by your honest mistaek. The Controlled Parking Zones and parking tickets (PCNs) are supposed to operate in our interests. It would be illegal if they became simply a money-grubbing tax intended to make vast profits for local councils.

I assume that like any new system, a significant change will throw up significant new problems. (When the problems are inside the Parking Service, I expect the explanation will be "teething troubles" and "bedding down".) You've pointed out a weakness in the system: that the online process wasn't explicit and helpful enough even for someone as "net savvy" as you are. It needs to be altered.

So can I please ask you to formally send your post above to Cllr Nilgun Canver, the "cabinet" councillor responsible for the Parking Service, to Lyn Garner, the Department Director, and Joan Hancox the Assistant Director; asking them for a clear and unequivocal undertaking that not only your case but similar cases are being and will be treated with flexibility and common sense. And that they'll look again at and improve the online process.

(Tottenham Hale ward councillor)

P.S. Given Laura's comment below, could I please suggest you include this point in your 'ask'.

I think I'll get the appeal seen through first, but if you've a mind to ask on a shorter timescale, please feel free to do so.

It seems that Lyn Garner, the director, is on leave. So I emailed Joan Hancox and Ann Cunningham, Parking Service (with a copy to Cllr Nigun Canver) asking them to read this thread and advise on the general issues raised - which could apply to anyone in the borough living within a CPZ area. (But not your specific PCN appeal, Hugh.)
  Although I'd still suggest that people posting queries on Hol which the Council could answer should also consider asking them directly. Online activism; sharing power.
Did anyone spot the interview with Stella Creasy the Walthamstow MP who said: "... I'm your worst enemy as your MP because I'm going to get you involved. Because that's how we are going to change things". I was very much in sympathy with this. Because currently there is far too much power being concentrated in fewer hands. Mayors, leaders, Ministers etc. Often hardworking and well intentioned but utterly mediocre people.

This can't be put down as teething troubles as the same thing happened to me in May last year, an the system is not "new" anymore having been around for a year at least

it's not obvious that the ticket can be printed. I realised afterwards, but was unable to get back to the page as it had timed out, so I got in touch with them and they sent me one in the post.

all handled very nicely by them, and with no problem. I can't remember if I was without a permit for any time, as I sorted it on the phone, so have no record of what was said, but think that they said that I would be OK and wouldn't get a ticket

Phew!! Not only me at least. Thanks, David!

Bastards! You shouldn't have to pay, Hugh. Mine's up for renewal in May, better start now in case of problems.

Also - I thought you could renew parking permits at the local library, but can't find any info online about this.

Yes, that's my scenario number two. If this is the case, I imagine those in charge of parking are aware of the general practice and will have decided whether or not the issue is one which warrants a policy. My view is that it's a practice that should be managed and I'd be interested to know if it is. I imagine it is the sort of practice that needlessly incurs ill will.

Hugh good luck in your Appeal.

I'm not sure that enforcement was ever about building the right relationship: its about raising cash. The streets are viewed as orchards from which to gather ripe fruit.

You'd think that, as a profit centre, Parking would be the most efficient operation of the council in all respects. But it seems to have gone a bit awry.

Civica's website mentions the 24/7 delivery of their E-Permit administration. I wonder, and may yet ask (formally) if the week-and-a-half of downtime for online payments, by Civica, will cause a reduction in income to the Council, and if so, who if anyone is responsbile for this loss?

This extraordinarily long, scheduled downtime has come about after Civica (and third parties paid by Civica) have been paid at least £817,000 already in the current financial year.

Don't "muse". Don't "may"; May's too far away. Don't kvetch.


They're probably Microsoft-based Clive



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