The Moral of the Story is…

July 31, 2007

“I only had one card left. I pulled out my TravelBook and opened it, flicking past the TextMarker and the Eject-O-Hat and on towards the glass panel covering a red painted handle. A note painted on the glass read: IN UNPRECEDENTED EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS. If this wasn’t an unprecedented emergency, I don’t know what was. I smashed the glass, grabbed the handle and pulled it down with all my strength.”

(‘The Well of Lost Plots‘, © Jasper Fforde 2003, Hodder & Stoughton)

It occurred to me after I published the previous post (When Things Go Wrong) that, although I had described the catalogue of errors that lead to Penny paying the £155 Order for Recovery, I had failed to analyse the mistakes so that we might learn from them.

I can’t begin to comprehend what happened at Transport for London. Their system just spiralled completely out of control.

But, there are safeguards. If you know where to find them, of course. Read the rest of this entry »


When Things Go Wrong

July 29, 2007

“Bureaucracy and social harmony are inversely proportional to each other.” (Leon Trotsky)

Generally speaking Local Authority Traffic Enforcement Departments are extremely good at doing two things; giving out ‘tickets’ and collecting money.

If you do anything, like daring to challenge a PCN, that disturbs this well oiled machine, beware – the consequences are unpredictable.

The only way for a Parking Department to deal with a problem when it arises is first of all for them to admit that there is a problem. But that can’t happen, can it? They are perfect; they never make mistakes. Nothing can ever go wrong in their world.

But things do go wrong, all too frequently, and when it happens you can get sucked into the dystopian world of local government bureaucracy. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then rent a copy of Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil, or read some Kafka.

(© 1985 Embassy International Pictures NV. All rights reserved.)

I have recently been trying to contest some parking tickets of my own with Hackney Council. Whenever they send me a Notice to Owner and I make representation, they just send me another Notice to Owner. It’s quite surreal. Round and round we go. Read the rest of this entry »

When Things Go Right

July 21, 2007

This month has been good so far. I was assisting on three cases all lined up for appeal hearings this month. The Local Authorities ran away from every case. Here’s a summary: Read the rest of this entry »

Never Mind the Quality

July 14, 2007

“Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality.” (George Santayana)

It would appear that local authorities feel that they are accountable to no one. They do not publish performance figures for parking, bus lane, or moving traffic enforcement. If you want to find out more, generally speaking, you have to lodge a freedom of information request.

There is one notable exception: Transport for London (TfL) it would appear, does set performance targets and has published at least one performance review. It’s a bit of an odd document in that it only covers 7 months (as opposed to a year) from April – October 2006, but it is, never the less, quite enlightening. Read the rest of this entry »