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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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OK national legislation rather than bye-laws. (That link of yours needs fixing as its a hybrid of a web- and an email address – my Safari browser flagged it as a Possible Phishing Site!)

I have in the past been an opponent of CPZs (in Stroud Green) but am now car-less and don't have a dog in this fight. I still have some sympathy with those who are unable for whatever reason to give up the car and who suffer under these controls.

I haven't seen the Motorcycle Diaries but will be bringing my own bike out of hibernation shortly.

Like many forms of indirect taxation, Parking Permits & their aggravation impact poor individuals more than the wealthy. For the latter, off-street parking gets around the problem altogether and for companies (BT, Virgin etc), parking tickets are simply a cost of doing business.

Because the application for a parking permit does not require a declaration of political party membership, I doubt that the civil enforcement "officers" (or the other "officers" who perform the clerical admin) are able to separate out Labour Party car owners from car owners less deserving of consideration.

;-)

Clive, I ran your Grouchish comment through Google Translate. It came out as:     "That's great, Alan. Plainly we agree. And by the way, the link to Barnet CPZ Action Group needs fixing."

Many thanks for that. Here (I hope) is the right link: http://barnetcpz.blogspot.co.uk/  N.B. HEALTH WARNING:  Anyone who needs a sit-down and a blood pressure pill after  reading about Haringey CPZs should avoid visiting this website at all costs.

Hugh, I went through this process myself last night, and as someone who works in the web industry, I have to say the usability of the process is poor, it isn't intuitive and obvious where to click and I too almost missed the link to download my pdf.

You would hope that for a site that generates as much traffic as Haringey.gov.uk - that they would have invested in user testing - and in fact they have a duty to under the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act), so should you need to, I would quote those at them...

Thanks, Cara. 

Same here.... It really isn't obvious at all in the instructions that you get a once in a life time opportunity to print - or end up paying a fine to park outside your own house, despite them already taking your money in the on-line transaction!! Mine runs out tomorrow... my neighbour told me what to do.. I was still checking the door mat daily for the post!.. and I am waiting for them to resend me the PDF my email. The good news is, the woman on the phone was really nice - I had expected offhand belligerence and was spoiling for a fight if necessary!

I also think a DIY print version is totally pathetic though...   Hope the council listens to this feedback!

Regarding the DIY print thing... I was also puzzled by how easy it might be to cheat such a system, but realised that there is a code displayed on each permit. I'm guessing therefore that a warden just has to key in the code and his/her machine informs them instantly whether it is valid. So even if you copy/paste/hack/photoshop the pdf, what you cannot do is 'magic' up a valid code.

So it really doesn't matter about self-printing. No different to buying other tickets online which allow self-printing. Usually it's a bar code that ensures you can't cheat the system, but an alphanumeric one does the same job.

But I do wonder how the wardens feel about having to key in every code to check its validity and whether they end up bothering?

I wish I had seen this thread before embarking on the mission to renew my permit, although the system/concept is excellent the page is poorly designed. I'm surprised nothing has been done to improve the layout despite the issue being raised. I can't remember if the link was below the page fold and the new tab/window opening for payment throws you off too.

I do sometimes wish that I could help the council in improving services by making them more scalable, it just feels like the wrong decisions have been made about particular systems and processes.

Just to let you all know this system still doesn't seem to be working - my boyfriend just emailed me telling me he'd been 'dumb' and been unable to print out our new permit... luckily I rembered this post and was able to alieve his worries of stupidity!

 

This reminded me to check, and I had a look at the print-your-own permit i bought in March (?) thats been enjoying our Tottenham sunshine ever since. As anticipated it has faded to almost invisibility. Luckily I saved a copy of the pdf (somewhere) so can re-print it, I recommend you all do the same. Most domestic inkjet printers don't make fade-proof copies, certainly when left in bright daylight for long periods. I'll re-do mine on better paper but unless I switch to the much more expensive ink set, even that won't do it for another 8 months.

So maybe this will end up with a load of tickets and expensive appeals, and we will end up with the permanent LBH-printed permits again, unless the wardens carry a database of who has paid for what.

Thanks for spotting this, Pam. Very helpful. I've sent in a formal Member (councillor's) Enquiry.

----- Original Message -----
Sent:Tuesday, July 24, 2012 3:44 PM
Subject: Fading CPZ Parking Permits
Please see the post on Harringay Online website by Pam Isherwood (Pamish).
Pam has noticed that her own resident's CPZ Parking Permit has faded in the sunshine. Many other people may have the same problem if they use an inkjet printer. More of a problem if they have not kept the original PDF file. Worse still if the bright sunshine continues, bleaching-out printing on the permit sheet on car windows.
I can imagine that this might lead to undeserved Penalty Charge Notices; phonecalls; informal and formal appeals; and irritation by residents who have simply followed the system as requested by the Council. Has this problem been raised? If so what solutions have been found/proposed? 
 
Thanks.
Alan Stanton
Tottenham Hale ward councillor

OOPS!

Mine too. Nice to know I'm in good company, Lizzie!

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