Parking issues are never off the agenda in Bexley. Yesterday afternoon I was
speaking to a Bexley shopkeeper whose delivery service causes him to be zipping
around the borough and neighbouring Greenwich most days. Parking tickets have
become another unwelcome overhead passed on to customers and ultimately pushing
business to other suppliers located where a less draconian regime operates.
One of his recent tickets alleges he returned to the same parking area twice within one hour. He asked for proof of his transgression and Bexley council refused to supply it. Next thing he knows he has bailiffs knocking at his door.
Last week I visited another parking victim who stopped on a double yellow line in Broadway for three minutes while collecting his takeaway from KFC. As he is seriously disabled and has a blue badge he is allowed to park on double yellow lines for three hours if he is not causing an obstruction.
The victim came out of the shop to find a Civil Enforcement Officer putting a ticket on his car. When he protested that he had a badge the CEF said that this stretch of road did not allow for any stopping. Where are the kerb markings and roadside signs asked the bemused victim. Ah yes, I'll make a note about their absence on my report said the CEF. It’ll get you off the fine.
The resultant case went on for a full two and a half years at what cost one can only guess. Bexley council chose the wrong victim, his feet may no longer do their job adequately but as a retired copper he hasn’t lost the ability to ask probing questions and spot a dishonest answer. The only positives to come from this shameful episode is that it totally exposed Bexley council’s dishonesty and will keep me busy for several days over the next few weeks.
The eagle eyed may wish to play spot the kerb markings and the lamp post mounted sign that Bexley council at first believed were adequate.
disabled former policeman with a blue badge
was ticketed for parking on a double yellow line on 5th August 2009. He wrote to
Bexley council pointing out that the No Loading sign was totally obscured by a hanging flower
basket and any kerb markings had long since disappeared. He also referred to the
parking attendant’s promise to mark his notes to that effect and his own photographs.
On 17th August Bexley council replied to say that “an Authorised Officer has considered all the evidence presented from both parties, including the digital images taken and the contemporaneous notes made by Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) BL286 to support the issue of the PCN. The [Authorised] Officer has rejected your representation”.
So here we have a clear cut case of there being no kerb markings and effectively no signage and Bexley council says it has considered every bit of that evidence and the photographs and the notes which CEO BL286 said he had made and has found nothing at all wrong.
The ex-policeman considered the response to be an obvious set of lies and, drawing on his police experience, believed it to be a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. With the persistence that only a retiree has time for he set about proving that Bexley council’s parking procedures incorporate the dismissal of all appeals at the initial stage whatever the strength of the evidence. He went on to prove that lying is the norm and along the way secured interviews with dishonest staff right up to Director level.
your letter you stated that you were unaware that a loading restriction was in
force because the kerb stripes were faded and the sign was obscured. Whilst we
have noted your comments and the circumstances described in your letter, it is
the responsibility of the motorist to ensure they are parked in accordance with
all applicable restrictions.”
So said Bexley council on 17th August 2009 when dismissing the disabled former policeman’s appeal against his parking fine. So he photographed the evidence which Civil Enforcement Officer BL286 said he had recorded in his notebook and sent it to Bexley council. On 16th September a demand for payment of £120 was issued with a threat to increase it to £180 if no payment was forthcoming within 28 days, which prompted a letter to Greg Tippett, one of Bexley council’s Parking Managers and an ‘Authorised Officer’.
A week later the fine was cancelled.
“The reason for cancellation is that we have cancelled it.” Not much of a reason is it? Why didn’t they come out with truth? ‘We ignored you twice in a concerted attempt to pervert the course of justice, we conspired as best we could to defraud you but we failed and we are sorry to have been caught out.’
The policeman saw things much the same way too and so began the two and a half year battle to get Bexley council to admit that it pays no regard to justice or the law. In this case the Road Traffic Acts. More to come…
Right, where were we?
Man with blue badge parks on double yellow lines.
‘No loading’ signs obscured or absent. Fined. Protested twice. Told all evidence thoroughly examined and
he had no case.
Provided incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.
Bexley caved in.
End of the matter? Not a bit of it. Some people don’t like being lied to.
The next stage was a handwritten letter to Greg Tippett, Bexley council’s ‘Authorised Officer’ querying the stated reason for cancellation. viz. “The case is now closed.“ What sort of reason is that?
The ex-policeman was left waiting for an answer for several weeks during which he made six phone calls to Mr. Tippett who was on leave, out of the office, at a meeting, going to call him back, and twice unwilling to speak. On 26th October 2009 a formal complaint about Greg Tippett’s failure to answer questions was hand delivered to Chief Executive Will Tuckley and on 6th November Tina Brooks (Parking Manager) responded to the complaint…
She added “I am satisfied that the matter is now concluded”. Fat chance! Tina Brooks had tried Bexley’s favourite subterfuge, not answering the question. The reason for the cancellation remained a mystery. Then in mid-November a letter dated 16th October showed up…
…which prompted another question on 23rd November. “What was the date of the site visit?” Despite the promise of re-marking chevrons, on 31st January the following year the ex-policeman went to look for them only to be disappointed. How else was Craske going to keep the revenue flow up?
man who had been given a parking ticket and
was twice told that everything was in order eventually proved his case. Bexley council
acknowledged that its procedures embody an initial stitch up as standard. They
take no notice of any evidence supplied by the motorist, they review only their own.
Notwithstanding the admission and cancellation of the fine, our man on a mission still had questions. The date the council had visited the scene of their crime was still unanswered and he also wanted to know what possible reason there could be for not examining his photos.
Mr. Greg Tippett eventually condescended to provide an answer on 17th December 2009. He said the council did a site inspection and confirmed the chevrons had faded away on 25th September and the photos were ignored because they were black and white. Not when submitted they weren’t but apparently the council had scanned them into their system in monochrome. As excuses go, this was pretty lame, Yellow lines are easy to spot whether it be a colour or a black and white photograph.
Another thing that was worth looking at is whether or not Civil Enforcement Officer BL286 had lied when he said that his report would be endorsed with a note of the mitigating circumstance. viz. No kerb chevrons and a restriction sign behind a flower basket. Almost needless to say, this being Bexley, a Freedom of Information request revealed that CEO BL286 had indeed lied. He certified that all signs and lines were correctly located and marked.
In response to another letter dated 29th January 2010, Greg Tippett said that he “found that the signage was clear”. Well he would wouldn’t he, it had already been confirmed that the flower basket was removed during the first week of September and no one thought to check until the 25th. Is there no one at Bexley council with a modicum of sense?
Mr. Tippett concluded by saying “I confirm that this matter is now concluded”. Sorry Greg, wrong again!
After three years of reporting on Bexley council it becomes very easy to
discredit their statements because they so often contradict themselves or repeat
old mistakes, all I
have to do is remember where I filed the original note!
The disabled ex-policeman given a parking ticket for no good reason was finding the same after as many months and on 9th February 2010 wrote to Parking Manager Tina Brooks as follows…
In a letter to Mr. Tippett dated 17 December 2009 I accused CEO BL286 of being ignorant of Parking Control Regulations. I withdraw that accusation unreservedly. Since then I have discovered that all CEOs are trained and schooled in all aspects of parking Control Regulations as applied by Bexley Parking Services and their contractors. So it would appear that CEO BL286 was fully aware that chevrons and signs outside KFC and other sites on Bexleyheath Broadway did not comply with said regulations. He was therefore abusing his authority and powers when he handed me the PCN.
He also had your website to guide him which states “the contravention did not occur where the restrictions are not clearly marked and signed”.
The letter went on in similar knot tying vein for four handwritten A4 pages. It covered the CEO's failure to honour his promise to note the signage problem on his report and the FOI which had revealed that he certified the signs were all present and correct instead.
Ms. Brooks was reminded that the CEO's evidence photograph cunningly hid the signage problem by allowing a parked car to obscure it and it took five weeks, two letters, seven phone calls and a complaint to the Chief Executive to squeeze any sort of excuse for their behaviour from Bexley council. The nonsense about scanning colour photos in black and white was righty ridiculed as was the lie dated 16 October that the chevrons would be repainted. More than three months later they still had not been and in all probability more innocent motorists were prosecuted.
You and I both know that under the circumstances that prevailed at the time I should never have been issued with a PCN. As Manager of the dubious department I hope you will answer my points and questions honestly and without waffle. Please let me know what you intend to do about my allegations.
Would the persistent copper be happy with Ms. Brooks’ reply? I suspect you can guess the answer to that one.
Where did we leave off? “Would the persistent copper be happy with Ms. Brooks’
reply? I suspect you can guess the answer to that one.”
Those who know Bexley council well will know the answer; he didn’t get one. Underling Greg Tippett was dropped in it.
Mr. Tippett admitted in a letter dated 1st March 2010 that the problem would not have arisen if they had checked the location as initially requested. He offered no comment on the assertion that a first complaint only ever initiates a check of the CEO’s report. CEO BL286 had made a false report so Bexley council’s procedure was bound to fail. How often do CEOs make false reports?
The parking contractor had been penalised said Tippett, mistakenly believing that this might satisfy the disabled policeman, and “had the photographs been scanned in colour then these could have allowed the Authorised Officer to cancel the penalty charge”.
As may be seen, yellow markings show perfectly clearly on a black and white photo and a monochrome flower basket obscures a parking sign just as effectively as a coloured one. One might also reasonably ask why the council’s technological failings should impact adversely on innocent motorists anyway.
Greg Tippett is another Bexley council employee unable to think straight. He rejected outright the contention that the whole procedure was based on “sharp practice” but sensing that the matter wasn’t likely to end there he included a leaflet describing the council’s complaints procedure. It wasn’t long before Director of Customer & Corporate Services, Paul Moore, found a letter on his desk.
Four pages of handwritten A4 covered all the established points and the fact that no one had an answer for CEO BL286’s false claim that all the markings had been inspected and found in order. The ex-policeman went further and defined the legal meaning of the word conspiracy and accused Bexley council of exactly that. For good measure he said the copyright on his photographs had been infringed because Bexley council had scanned them and destroyed the originals. Nine days later there was an answer, not from Mr. Moore of course, no highly paid Bexley official actually does anything himself, the answer came from a minion, albeit a rather senior one, Deputy Director Graham Ward.
Mr. Ward in my limited experience of the man is not well versed in Bexley council trickery. He accepted that the very first response from Bexley council included an untruthful statement. He also graciously accepted that following the victim’s representations “a number of changes have been implemented”. Bearing in mind it was by now March 2010 I would guess that is a reference to the change from Vinci Park to NSL which was taking place at that very moment rather than anything a mere resident had achieved.
Anticipating another long letter Mr. Ward suggested a meeting. Would that or would that not prove to be a strategic mistake?
On 29th March the disabled ex-policeman wrote again to Bexley Council’s Director of Customer and Corporate Services, Paul Moore. Another four pages of hand written A4 complaining that his previous letter had been “delegated to a minion who proceeds to send two sheets of waffle”. Here is a flavour of it…
He states that the CEO made a misjudgment, if that is so I pointed out his misjudgment at the time so he should have cancelled the PCN then and there. If he did not have the discretion to cancel and this misjudgment was genuine he should have admitted his mistake and rectified it in his report. He did not, In fact he chooses to tell an absolute lie, thereby abusing his powers.
I have a signed admission from [Mr. Greg] Tippett and [Mr. Graham] Ward that you operate a policy of discounting the first appeal of a PCN and reject it out of hand with no investigation. The excuse given is that the Traffic Management Act 2004 allows [only] 14 days for a response, which is insufficient for an Authorised Officer to leave his desk. Unbelievable.
This proves that Authorised Officer I.S. lied in his statement when he says “I have considered all evidence from both parties” when he rejects my challenge. This shows a lack of integrity within Bexley Parking Services.
The letter goes on to piece together various dishonest statements concocted at ranks between Civil Enforcement Officer and Deputy Director and says that is all the proof necessary for a conspiracy charge. It also asks for an explanation of some of the terms to be found in Mr. Ward’s letter.
Could you please explain what were “the contractual penalties imposed upon Vinci Park” and “the error was dealt with through the council’s contract and liquidated damages were levied against the contractor for their error”.
Mr. Moore took just over a month to reply. He repeats the misjudgment word when referring to the Enforcement Officer’s false statement on his report, that is not going to go down well. He explains that the liquidated damages means that the parking contractor was made to pay the full cost of the PCN (£120) to the council and repeats the offer of a meeting but rejects the suggestion it might be recorded. Would anyone expect anything else of Bexley council? Mr. Moore would have done better if he had simply accepted that the Enforcement Officer had fibbed. By then the parking contract had gone to NSL. What harm would it have done?
had better bring you another installment of the parking saga before
everyone begins to forget.
A disabled ex-policeman had won an admission from Bexley council that they take no notice of any evidence supplied at the first appeal stage preferring to rely on a report by their own staff, which in this case was an outright lie.
The retired policeman didn’t think eventually dropping his fine and allowing Bexley council to carry on inflicting their injustices on more motorists was a satisfactory outcome. Neither did he think that making the parking contractor pay the fine instead of him could be morally justified. Why should Bexley council profit from the unjustified misery it inflicts on innocent motorists?
Another hand written letter was sent to Bexley council, this time it was five pages of A4 to Chief Executive Will Tuckley. It covered a number of examples of how Bexley council’s policy is unjust…
“An Authorised Officer has considered all evidence presented from both parties. The officer has rejected your representation. This is a blatant and barefaced lie. He has not considered any part of my evidence. Bexley Parking Services (BPS) policy does not allow him to.
[Another] scenario [is] if I receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and I believe I have reasonable grounds to contend, then I send my representation to Bexley Parking Services, who reject my contention out of hand, stating as they do, an Authorised Officer has considered all evidence from both parties etc., then rejects my challenge. At the same time he threatens me that if I continue to pursue this challenge and I lose, I will have to pay the full amount of £120.
Although I feel my challenge is reasonable, against my better judgment I decide I cannot afford £60, let alone £120, so I capitulate and pay £60.
What happens next? BPS add my £60 to their bulging coffers and close the case or write to me and say sorry, we did not really take your evidence into account or attempt to visit the site. The initial rejection is just a ploy to give us more time. We are returning your £60.
The wronged motorist was in effect asking Mr. Tuckley; is BPS run by a bunch of fraudsters or not? And given what they had already admitted to him he had a very valid point. How would Tuckley wriggle out of that one? He passed the questions on to Mr. Moore (Director of Public and Corporate Services) again. In a letter delivered by hand, Mr. Moore admitted that the PCN should never have been issued and that BPS did not bother to take note of the evidence supplied. Everyone had lied in an effort to extort money from the disabled pensioner. CEO BL286 had lied on his report. The Authorised Officer I.S. lied about considering the evidence.
The question of Bexley council profiting from inflicting unwarranted misery on motorists was answered in a way I haven’t come across before. Mr. Moore took out his own cheque book and gave the motorist a cheque for £60 drawn on his own personal account payable to the motorist’s favoured charity. Mr. Moore appears to be a generous man anxious to put right his employer’s misdeeds, however the ex-policeman did not think it right that anyone but Bexley council should pay, and returned it.
established to everyone’s satisfaction that the parking penalty issued to the
retired and disabled ex-policeman should not have been issued
by Civil Enforcement Officer BL286, but he lied on his report, and that Bexley’s appeal
process is unlawful as it automatically rejects representations to save time, the argument
shifted to whether this is deliberate policy or a one off mistake.
The answer was obvious but no one at Bexley council wanted to admit it, not even Mr. Paul Moore who in other respects had tried to right Bexley council’s wrongs. Unlike some of his colleagues he was rewarded with only two pages of handwritten A4.
After a polite rejection of the cheque the Director had offered as an olive branch to the ex-policeman’s favourite charity, it put the argument as follows… (edited extracts)
You appear to misunderstand the word ‘error’. An error is a mistake but both CEO BL286 and Authorised Officer I.S. are guilty of a deliberate lie on their statements in an attempt to extort money from me.
You are aware that I have requested the Chief Executive to instigate an independent review. He has declined and insisted on going to the next stage of the complaints procedure. This is wrong, the senior officers do not have training and experience in criminal investigations. Parking Services should not be investigating themselves.
You and I are never going to agree whether their behaviour is criminal or an error. Only an independent review can decide.
the complainant has no knowledge of Bexley council’s idea if what usually constitutes
an independent review body. i.e. choose the chairman from a known pool of sympathisers and
pay him over £2k. a year for his loyalty, but I digress. What happened next?
Mr. Chris Loynes (still among the most popular of searches leading to this site - this is today’s list) was appointed to carry out an ‘independent’ investigation and he set out his understanding of the situation and terms of reference in a letter dated 30 June 2010.
Mr. Loynes’ take on the matter was rejected five days later. Another two pages of A4 the detail of which should perhaps wait until next week.
Mr. Chris Loynes was the best Bexley council could offer when the retired
policeman insisted on an independent enquiry into how they had come to record a
series of untruthful statements in connection with an alleged parking offence and
then confirmed them all when irrefutable evidence showed them to be wrong. The
reality was that their procedures did not allow for any checking; extortion of
money irrespective of the facts was the priority.
The policeman was looking for more than an apology, he was looking for an acceptance that the policy was fundamentally dishonest and should be changed. Mr. Loynes would only accept that they were “unfair practices” but were not criminal. He also assumed that the fined motorist was looking for monetary compensation because Bexley council had ‘fined’ its parking contractor £120 and had thereby profited from its own dishonesty. The motorist’s reply on 5th July 2010 made it absolutely clear that Mr. Loynes was wrong.
That letter must have been difficult to answer because it was late October before there was any reply. Bexley’s Chief Executive, Mr. Will Tuckley, took three pages to explain that the only thing they had got wrong was not having adequate signage outside the KFC takeaway in Bexleyheath Broadway. It had taken a whole year to make no real progress. There was no recognition that Bexley’s appeal procedures take no notice of any evidence supplied during the initial stages.
Frustrated by the lack of progress the persistent complainant resorted to the Freedom of Information Act and took his case to Bexleyheath police. Unfortunately he almost immediately came up against Chief Inspector Tony Gowen who is well known for his reluctance to take action against Bexley council.
Bexley council continues to flout parking laws. An examination of the PATAS adjudications for this month alone shows Bexley to be allowing fewer days for discounted payment than the law prescribes (Case Reference: 2120504543) and is fining people for momentary stops of two or three seconds. (Case Reference: 2120593190 and others.)
am grateful to a reader for bringing my attention to
Saturday’s Telegraph, the only issue I don’t see, which refers to a report
that claims the demise of shopping centres is due, if I may be permitted a rough
and ready summary, to stupid councillors.
Here in Bexley we do at least have the satisfaction of knowing that our parking situation, among the very highest charges in south London and by a clear margin the highest at night and on Sundays, is definitely the work of an idiot. Step forward councillor Peter Harold Craske, erstwhile cabinet member for Public Realm. You have to be an idiot to do what he allowed over his home telephone line yet he is the best leader Teresa O’Neill could find to decide policy for all the borough’s major infrastructure. The Fat Controller at her very best.
Do I have to remind you of this? (Craske’s obscene blog.)
Or the state of Sidcup High Street?
For an example of Bexley’s parking policy and war on the motorist I can do no better than return to the disabled pensioner who parked outside KFC in the Broadway where the loading only signs were barely visible.
The man soon discovered that Bexley’s first stage appeal process was a sham; dismissal of appeals at that stage was automatic. The ex-policeman knew the situation fell under the conspiracy laws and reported it to Bexleyheath police who said they couldn’t take action against Bexley council. The officer who signed the letter was Chief Inspector Tony Gowen the man who arranged a meeting with Bexley council which was not a party to his crime, to ensure the Craske case would collapse.
When we left the ex-policeman’s story on December 22nd he had just sought a copy of Mr. Chris Loynes’ investigation into Bexley council’s malpractice. Almost needless to say Bexley council refused to give it to him. They had already accepted at Director level that the original Penalty Notice should not have been issued, it was no longer a secret that their procedures were riddled with flaws and non-compliance with the regulations but how that came to pass was considered to be a state secret. No one must have confirmation that Bexley council is run by a bunch of shysters.
“Disclosure of the information you seek would prejudice the Council’s ability to offer an effective public service” or to put it more clearly, if everyone knew what you have found out it will affect our ability to illegally fleece motorists.
Unknown to the retired policeman the whole thing was turning incestuous. Chris Loynes was Deputy Monitoring Officer seeking to protect himself from further scrutiny.
The policeman may not have known who was Monitoring Officer but he did recognise a stitch up when he saw one; he reported his concerns to the Information Commissioner.
Two weeks ago
we left the retired policeman who had won an admission from
Bexley council that their parking appeals procedure is, or at least was, a
worthless sham, appealing to the Information Commissioner about the council’s
refusal to tell him anything about the investigation into his complaint
supposedly conducted by Deputy Monitoring Officer Chris Loynes.
After the customary six and half month’s delay during which Bexley council continued to argue that secrecy was paramount it agreed to let the complainant read the file under its supervision.
In late October 2011, ten months and eleven days after making the initial Freedom of Information request Mr. Grosvenor who was at the time the unfortunate individual fronting Bexley council’s various FOI deceptions turned up with a file at the ex-policeman’s home. It contained nothing but a couple of emails and a hand written note. Neither Mr. Grosvenor nor the complainant could decipher it. A letter of complaint went in; the main theme of which was that in any genuine investigation there would be statements by the various council employees who, it had already been acknowledged, had made false statements from the outset; and finally a report by Mr. Loynes with his signature attached. There was nothing remotely like that in the file.
Almost a year to the day from the initial FOI request Mr. Grosvenor wrote that there were simply no more documents available. Clearly Mr. Loynes’ investigation into the complaint was as much a sham as the parking department’s appeals procedure.
A further letter was sent to Chief Executive, Will Tuckley. It set out the logical course of events when asked to conduct an investigation, the events presumably culled from years of experience as a police officer, and demonstrated that Mr. Loynes had done none of those things. The letter referred also to the promises made by Bexley council in their publicly available complaints leaflets. Mr. Loynes had overlooked those too.
What would 250,000 pounds’ worth of executive brain power have to say about that? Nothing sensible or helpful obviously.
To be continues…
The end of the file provided by the ex-policeman
has been reached. He had been illegally ticketed for parking outside KFC in Bexleyheath Broadway
where the No loading stripes had disappeared from the kerb and the road side signs were totally
obscured by flower baskets. A ticket issued on 5th August 2009 was still being debated in 2012,
by which time the complainant was dipping a tentative toe into the world of computers.
After complaining to Chief Executive Will Tuckley on 14th February 2012 he received an email from parking supremo Mike Frizoni. Unfortunately that email no longer exists but the reply does. It reminds Frizoni that a Director had already accepted that the ticket should not have been issued so the writer was in no mood to accept the council had acted honourably.
The writer further reminds Mr. Frizoni of the various lame excuses encountered in the previous two years. Mr. Greg Tippett blaming his failure to resolve the situation at the very earliest stage because he viewed a black and white photograph in preference to the colour original was particularly ridiculous. Tina Brooks and councillor Peter Craske came under fire too for claiming to be fully aware of the relevant statutes but refusing to comment on their relevance. Well that could be incriminating - no chance!
Having pinned Frizoni into a corner the inevitable happened. Frizoni ignored the comments totally and carried on with his policy of abusing the law whenever he gets the opportunity.
How about that Valentine’s Day letter to Tuckley? Well the best one can say is that it wasn’t ignored. The response was dated 8th March 2012.
A Freedom of Information request had already exposed Mr. Loynes’ report as consisting of two short emails and a scribbled note which together said almost nothing; but it satisfied Tuckley and he slammed his door firmly shut lest any admission of failure leaked out.
After two years and seven months no one, except perhaps Mr. Paul Moore, would admit that this disabled pensioner who appealed his unjustified parking ticket was met by a conspiracy of lies. He made his views very clear in one final message.
Note: Vincipark was Bexley council’s parking contractor when the penalty notice was issued.