The Prankster has been given permission to quote from the report and believes one section needs highlighting in its entirety.
During the last month we received complaints and indeed a number of press enquiries about one particular operator. A formal complaint was also made to the ISPA. This involved allegations that parking charge notices had been improperly issued in certain car parks, based on allegations relating to the time stamping of digital images.
Following the formal complaint, and without making any findings whatsoever, I temporarily suspended determination of appeals from that company and asked them to provide me with an explanation. After some days the company indicated that they had checked all pending appeals and there were only five that they wished to discontinue, effectively offering no evidence. In fact, one had been decided, having been allowed the previous month, and one had not been registered. The other three were formally allowed and I directed that appeals could therefore continue.
Unfortunately, within a short space of time it appeared that another appeal we had received was at the same location and, on the face of it, the same issues were present as in the disputed cases. I therefore informed the operator, the BPA, and the ISPA that I would have to again suspend determination of the company’s appeals until I received a further explanation. None has yet been received.
Additionally, as I write this, it is reported that the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA) have suspended access by the same operator to the vehicle keeper data that the Authority holds. The effect of this is that the operator will not be able to obtain details of the registered keepers of any vehicles which are the subject of parking charge notices that the operator has issued.It is time for UK Parking Control to come clean and admit the full extent to which the timestamp scandal extends.
The King is dead. Long live the King
There are other important issues mentioned in the report. None of the staff of the current POPLA service will be transferring over. It also appears that the new service may not use the same lawyer based appeals service, which may cause issues in the future. The Prankster will reserve judgment on the quality of decisions until sufficient information is available.
However, it should be mentioned that it is important for motorists to feel confident that any decisions made will be mirrored in a court of law. Otherwise, as POPLA is not binding, the motorist will simply say 'The decision is wrong. See you in court.'
The IPC appeals service the IAS have made this fundamental error. The service has been set up to apparently decide for the parking companies no matter what. The Prankster has seen a large number of fatuous decisions by the IAS 'baristas' and it is interesting to note that when the flaws in the decision are pointed out to the parking company, they crawl back in their hole and apart from sending a few meaningless debt collector letters have so far failed to attempt court action. This is hardly surprising given the quality of decisions; for instance, IAS assessors have frequently failed to understand the requirements of POFA 2012, and have ruled it applies even when the Notice to Keeper is manifestly deficient. The operators are of course more canny, and will know full well their NTKs are not compliant - in many cases because POPLA told them before they defected to the IPC. The IAS also refuses to take into account European Court cases, even though these are binding on lower courts in England and Wales.
A telling fact which underlies the institutional bias of the IAS is the fact that it will not allow appeals where the motorist is guaranteed to win. The IAS will allow appeals in Scotland, but only from the driver. The keeper is not allowed to appeal. However, the parking companies are in many cases pursuing the keeper when they are not the driver, leaving the keeper no avenue for appeal. In Scotland, keeper liability does not apply, so it is a cast iron winning appeal point to truthfully state you were not the driver. The IPC refuse to allow keeper appeals for that reason; however, no Scottish court will find for the parking operator if the defendant truthfully states they were not the driver.
This is equivalent to the IAS trying a murder case and finding the defendant guilty because although the defendant had a cast iron alibi, they could not tell the court who the murderer actually was. Obviously any appeals service run on these lines is not fair or independent. No doubt they will be bringing back ducking stools and witch trials next.
Another issue is the large number of cases which are currently suspended until the result of the ParkingEye v Beavis case from the Supreme Court. The cases are held over until November 1st. They will not now be decided on by the old POPLA team, as they will all have departed. The new POPLA service will also not be deciding on these cases. These cases will therefore be left in limbo until the BPA decide what to do with them.
Mr Greenslade raises the issue that signage is a common theme. While POPLA correctly considers signage must be visible to the motorist this is not the view of the IAS. In the IAS view, any signage at all is considered sufficient, no matter how inaccessible to the motorist, no matter whether different signs are present giving conflicting terms, and no matter whether signs contain contradictions such as forbidding all parking, and then offering parking under contractual terms.
The Prankster takes the view that if the parking company want to charge a large amount of money for infringing conditions, the signage should be bang in your face so the motorist is absolutely aware of the conditions of parking.Onerous terms should be in the largest font on the sign, and not hidden away in small print.
Mr Greenslade raises concerns about charges in hospitals. The Prankster will blog substantially about this in the near future.
The Prankster also tips his hat to the outgoing POPLA assessors and administration staff. We didn't always agree. But we mostly did.
The Parking Prankster
PS Who was the mystery blogger?