The story begins when The Parking Prankster double dipped a motorway service station many moons ago. CP Plus sent a parking charge notice. The Prankster, considering that their systems must be malfunctioning as they did not detect the dual visit, could only think of one explanation. He sent the following appeal.
I have received the speculative invoice referred to above and I wish to invoke your appeal process.
As my car was not parked at this location between the times stated, I can only assume your records are incorrect.
Your base may have been invaded by Cybermen. Trust no-one, and nothing, especially computers. Try and hold out until the Doctor arrives. In view of the corruption of your data, I assume you will cancel your invoice.
The Parking PranksterCP Plus, declining to accept the possibility that their systems were not foolproof, turned down the appeal and sent a POPLA code. The Prankster appealed briefly on the grounds that he wasn't there.
This is a first in last out error by the PPC. I visited the location twice on the day in question but their ANPR only detected the first in and last out. I have digital evidence confirming the vehicle was elsewhere during the period in question, and therefore require the PPC to supply proof backing up their claim that the vehicle was continuously there for the duration they claim; records detailing their camera coverage of all entrances and exits, together with installation details and site diagrams showing how they determine that coverage is complete and that vehicles cannot pass without their number being recorded; maintenance details including the date of last service of all equipment on site before the incident; the supplier of the software used to process recordings and the settings used on the software, together with all known bug reports from the manufacturer which could cause first in last out errors; procedures used during the PPC appeals process to determine whether a first in last out error has occurred, together with the names of employees who took part in processing the appeal, their training records and their case notes when processing my appeal I will be submitting my full reasons and evidence at a later date.
POPLA appeal 1771073004 – representations on operator’s evidence.
The appellant makes the following comments on the Operator’s evidence pack:1. The Operator’s evidence pack was received by email on 23/5/2013. Email headers as evidence of this have already been provided to POPLA in a separate communication and should be in the case notes.
2. The appellant submits that the operator’s evidence has been delivered after the allowed time, as set out in the email from POPLA to the operator on 24th April. The appellant has asked for a copy of this email from POPLA, but has not yet received it.
3. The appellant submits that the operator’s evidence pack be therefore struck from the case and the appeal upheld.
4. The operator signed the evidence pack on page 1 as being delivered to the appellant on 15/5/2013, but it was not delivered until 23/5/2013. This is not an isolated incident; it has happened on each of the occasions the operator has delivered evidence packs to the appellant.
5. The appellant therefore requests that the evidence be thrown out for consistent fraudulent misrepresentation of the appeals process by the operator
6. The Operator for the case in question is CP Plus. However, the appellants evidence seems to been sent to, and handled by, a different party, Ranger Services.
Any information you provide via this web site, or by any other means in connection with an appeal to the adjudicator will be processed by London Councils/POPLA contractors and retained. We are responsible for any personal data collected and retained as a result of using the site.With the exception of requirements expressed by parliament, information you provide us in connection with the registering and conduct of an appeal will not be shared with any other parties.8. The appellant submits that this is a violation of the Data Protection Act, and POPLA’s own stated practices for his data to be submitted to Ranger Services. The appellant submits that he has a right for his data to be only processed by the operator raising the charge, and not by a random third party.
9. The appellant therefore asks for the evidence to be thrown out and the case upheld.
10. In the event that adjudicator decides the evidence pack is allowable, which the appellant strongly denies, then the appellant wishes to draw attention to the fact that the Operator makes no attempt to lay out or state a case in their Case Summary. There is no reference to any Parking Charge, any place, date or time of incident, any indication of whether the appellant is being pursued as driver or registered keeper. The case summary rather, appears to be unsubstantiated observations as to the Operator’s interpretation of the appellant’s character, and vague threats that action will be taken if the adjudicator’s decision is not to their liking. The case summary makes no references to any evidence contained later in the evidence pack. As neither the appellant nor the adjudicator should be expected to guess how the rest of the evidence applies to the case, the appellant asserts that the remainder of the evidence is not related to the case. The appellant hesitates to call the Operator evasive, deceitful and making a mockery of the POPLA appeal process, despite being greatly tempted to. He does however, note that the case summary bears no resemblance to a serious case summary. In view of the Operator’s failure to even attempt to make their case in any shape or form, the appellant requests that the appeal be therefore upheld.
11. The appellant also wishes to state his belief that it is not the job of the adjudicator to root through the evidence to find the best possible case for the Operator. If the Operator is not able to clearly and succinctly present their own case, then perhaps they are in the wrong business.
12. The appellant also wishes to state that he would not believe it to be a fair adjudication process if the first time he finds a clear statement of the case against him is in the adjudicator’s decision. He believes that a fair appeal process would allow him to see the case presented against him before the appeal is adjudicated so that he has the opportunity to argue against it.
13. In the event that the adjudicator finds there is a case made by the Operator, which the appellant strongly denies, and also that the remainder of the evidence pack is related to the case, which the appellant also questions, the appellant wishes to state that the operator does not make it clear whether he is treating the appellant as the driver or the registered keeper. As there are different requirements the operator must fulfill in each of these circumstances, the appellant argues that the operator cannot have the best of both worlds; the Operator must clearly state how the appellant is being pursued, and not leave it up to the adjudicator to decide which makes the best case. The appellant therefore asks the adjudicator to uphold the appeal.
14. Although the appellant admits to visiting the site twice, he prefers to exercise his right to remain silent as to who the driver of the vehicle was on each occasion.
15. In view of the fact that Operator does not state whether they are pursuing the appellant as driver or registered keeper, the appellant asks the adjudicator, if they have not already dismissed the case, to pursue it as if the Operator were pursuing the driver. The basis for this, although flimsy, is that the only clue the operator gives is to mention the word ‘driver’ more than the words ‘registered keeper’ in their case summary.
16. In view of the fact that the operator offers no evidence that the appellant is the driver, the appellant asks for the appeal to be upheld.
17. The appellant does not believe any contract has been entered into, whether actual or implied, by signed paper contract, verbally agreed, by signage or any other means. The Operator has made no clear statement in their case notes to the effect that a contract has been entered into with the appellant, or how this has come about. The appellant therefore requests that the appeal be upheld.
18. In the event that the adjudicator assumes a contract has been made by signage, which the appellant strongly denies, the appellant wishes to draw attention to the map provided by the Operator in their evidence pack. The entrance sign, labeled (1) on the diagram, is on the right hand entrance road. There is no entrance signage on the left hand road. It is therefore possible to enter the car park by the left hand road and immediately turn left to park in the area by the trees without encountering any further signs. This is before signs (3), (5), (6). The operator’s signage is therefore inadequately positioned for the purposes of forming a contract. The appellant therefore requests that the appeal be upheld.
19. If the adjudicator decides that a contract has been made by signage, which the appellant strongly denies, the appellant wishes to point out that none of the signs photographed in section F of the operator evidence pack are cross referenced to the map in section F, that the writing is too small to read, and that there is no date provided as to when these pictures are taken or date given when the operator last checked the signs were still in position. The appellant therefore questions their usefulness and applicability to the case.
20. The appellant also wished to point out that the signage is unreadable in the key given on the map in section F. The appellant therefore questions its usefulness and applicability to the case.
21. The appellant also wished to point out that it is impossible to cross reference the two example signs given in section B with the map in section F. The first could be (1) (2) or (3). The second could be (4) or (7). They could also be something else entirely. They could therefore be situated in several different possible locations in the car park, and the operator has not demonstrated that they will be encountered while parking.
22. The appellant therefore states that the Operator has not demonstrated that the signage is adequate or that any rules/conditions for parking apply and asks for the appeal to be upheld.
23. The British Parking Association lays out requirements for mandatory entrance signs in Appendix B of its code of practice. The Operator has neither indicated which its entrance signs are, nor shown that any signs at all in the evidence pack meet the requirements as to:1 Overall design2 Standard wording3 Text size for group 1 and group 2 text4 Either sign illumination or reflective material composition
24. The Operator has also not shown that it has any special dispensation from the BPA to use non-standard signage, or shown any other reasons why it might be allowed to use non-standard signage.
25. The appellant therefore states that the Operator has not demonstrated that the signage is adequate and asks for the appeal to be upheld.
26. The appellant wishes to state the vehicle visited the car park twice on the day in question, and the photographs show only the first arrival and last departure of the vehicle. CP Plus’s ANPR system has missed the other departure and arrival. The vehicle was only present for an estimated total duration during both visits of less than one hour.
27. As the appellant denies that the vehicle was parked there continuously during the period in question, the burden of proof falls on CP Plus to provide evidence to the contrary. As CP Plus has not produced such proof, such as footage of the vehicle parked at various times, the appellant asks that the appeal be upheld.
28. The appellant requested in the initial POPLA submission that the Operator supply various proofs backing up their claim that the vehicle was continuously there for the duration they claim. This proof should comprise at least the following;
28.1 records detailing their ANPR camera coverage of all entrances and exits, together with installation details and site diagrams showing how they determine that coverage is complete and that vehicles cannot pass without their number being recorded;
28.2 maintenance details including the date of last service of all equipment on site before the incident;
28.3 the make, version and supplier of the software used to process recordings and the settings used on the software, together with all known bug reports from the manufacturer which could cause first in last out errors;
28.4 procedures used during the PPC appeals process to determine whether a first in last out error has occurred
28.5 the names of employees who took part in processing the appeal, their training records and their case notes when processing my appeal.
29. None of these were supplied. The appellant wished to state therefore that he believes:
29.1 The ANPR coverage is not complete and that it is therefore possible to drive vehicles in and out of the location without their numbers being recorded
29.2 The ANPR is defective and has not been installed, serviced or used in line with manufacturer’s requirements.
29.3 The ANPR software is defective. The Operator is running an old version with bugs and errors. The operator is using incorrect software settings which allow first-in last–out errors to go undetected.
29.4 The Operator did not follow their own process to determine if first-in last-out errors occur
29.5 The training of the operator’s personnel who processed the appeal was defective
For any or all of these reasons the appellant argues that the operator has not properly addressed reasons why a first-in last-out error has not occurred and therefore requests the appeal is upheld.30. The Operator states in the case summary they have made ‘full data verification checks to ensure there was no further vehicle records’. The appellant submits that without further clarification this statement should be ignored. Searching databases is a technical skill and must be done in the correct way. It is easy for a novice to make an unintended error without realizing it. Without full statements of the database structure, the exact queries used, and the training and qualifications of the personnel querying the database, the operator’s statement does not satisfy the requirement that they have done a proper search of a database.
31. The appellant draw the adjudicator’s attention to the Wikipedia page on ANPR, submitted as evidence by the appellant, and in particular, the sections headed ‘5 Algorithms’ and ‘6. Difficulties’. These clearly show that many technical software problems need to be solved before a vehicle number can be captured. Six different algorithms need to be created by programmers, and these are all technically challenging. Seven difficulties are also listed. This illustrates that there are many problems, and therefore areas of potential failure, which must be overcome before a number can even make its way into a database.
32. The appellant therefore submits that for the operator to only check their database is not a sufficient proof that a first-in last-out error did not occur. The number will only appear in the database at the end of a long and complicated series of procedures any of which may go wrong. The operator needs to address the fact that a problem can occur, and in fact is most likely to occur, because of problem with any of the six algorithms and seven difficulties. As they have not done this, or shown they have used any other methods to address these problems, the appellant requests that the appeal be upheld.
The Prankster, having seen the POPLA Lead Adjudicator's template witness statement, decided it was time to update his appeal. At this point in time, he had sent in no photographs of his car elsewhere at the time of the alleged parking event and indeed in a previous appeal POPLA had ruled his CCTV evidence of his car parked outside his house inadmissible. this was because they could not process industry standard CCTV formatted data.
The Prankster therefore visited an IT Specialist he knew and showed him the photographic evidence that the vehicle was elsewhere at the time. The IT Specialist considered that the evidence was tamper proof. The Prankster took the Lead Adjudicator's template witness statement and modified it slightly to suit the situation and the IT Specialist duly signed. The Prankster updated his POPLA appeal and waited.
I wish to submit the following new evidence for case 1771073004. Please confirm that this evidence has been added to the case notes.
The vehicle visited the location twice on the day in question, and this is therefore a first -in last-out error by the operator. The vehicle was only present for a short time during both stays and did not therefore contravene the parking conditions.
POPLA case 8511283209 had the appeal refused by POPLA for a similar first-in last-out error because no additional evidence was submitted by myself.
POPLA case 2920513005 established that POPLA is currently unable to accept evidence in CCTV format. The appellant has written twice to the Lead Adjudicator and once to London Councils to enquire how CCTV evidence can be presented but has received no reply.
The appellant therefore wishes to take the step of submitting a witness statement (enclosed) confirming that the witness has seen photographic evidence that the vehicle was elsewhere during the time of the alleged contravention.
The Lead Adjudicator, in his May newsletter (enclosed), has indicated that witness statements are sufficient evidence in similar situations ('Contracts with Landowners'). The appellant has taken the sample witness statement provided by the Lead Adjudicator in the May newsletter (enclosed) and adapted it to the situation.
As the appellant has provided evidence the vehicle was elsewhere he asks the appeal be upheld.
Many days passed.
Many more days passed.
Finally, 100 days after it was due to be assessed and 135 days after first submitting to POPLA, the appeal was processed, and The Prankster received the following reply.
Reasons for the Assessor’s Determination
The Operator issued parking charge notice number 437130327012 arising out of the presence at Moto Leigh Delamere West, on 27 March 2013, of a vehicle with registration mark xxxxxx for exceeding the free parking period.
It is the Operator’s case that the Appellant’s vehicle was parked for longer than the maximum free stay of 2 hours and this was a breach of the terms and conditions of parking as set out on signage at the site.
It is the Appellant’s case that he went to the site on two occasions on that day and the Operator has captured his first time in and last time out.
I have reviewed all of the evidence and a number of points have been raised by the Appellant and I will go through the most pertinent issues. Firstly, he has raised the fact that he is unsure if the Operator is pursuing him as the registered keeper or the driver. I am satisfied that the Operator sent a notice to keeper to the Appellant and he failed to respond or to object if he was not the driver. The Appellant has not disputed that he was the keeper.
Secondly, the Appellant states that he went to the site on two occasions and the Operator has captured the first in and last out. The Operator has stated that they checked their systems and are unable to find a record of the Appellant’s vehicle entering the site on two occasions as claimed by the Appellant.
Thirdly, the Appellant has provided a witness statement from a xxxx xxxxx, stating that he has seen photographic images that the Appellant’s vehicle was elsewhere on the day of the breach. The Appellant has failed to state where his vehicle was located and has not provided the photographs.
Fourthly, the Appellant has raised a number of other points such as cyber men invading the Operator, I do not feel these are relevant to this appeal and will not determine them.
Having considered all of the evidence and submissions put forward, I am satisfied that the terms and conditions of parking would have been visible to the Appellant from the signage at the site and these made it clear that parking was free for 2 hours and parking charges apply thereafter. On balance, I find that the Appellant’s vehicle was parked in excess of the 2 hour free parking period and he did not pay for parking thereafter, as a result, a breach of the terms and conditions of parking occurred. The onus is on the Appellant to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of parking and on this occasion he did not do so.
Accordingly, this appeal must be refused.
Motorists now have a clear statement from a POPLA assessor that the Lead Adjudicator's witness statement is unfit for purpose and will not be accepted. If an alternative document exists (in The Prankster's case a photograph, or in the parking company's case a contract) then it must be produced and in such circumstances the witness statement becomes a worthless piece of paper.
The Prankster makes his POPLA case numbers and the transcript of the assessor available for anyone to use as they wish. He suggests the following is added to any appeal where a witness statement may be used by the parking company.
In POPLA case reference 1771073004 the assessor ruled that a witness statement was not valid. This witness statement, based on the template provided by the POPLA Lead Adjudicator, concerned evidence which could have been produced but was not. This is exactly analogous to the current case if the operator produces a witness statement regarding contract documents between he operator and the landowner; the alleged contract is a document which the operator could produce (if it exists) but chooses not to. I request therefore that POPLA is consistent in its processes and also rules any witness statement produced by the operator invalid.
The Prankster is considering appealing to the Lead Adjudicator about the case. If he does so, he will not appeal on the basis of the witness statement but on other points.
Of course, this leaves The Prankster with a POPLA case on record against him. The Prankster is happy with this situation. CP Plus have shown as much inclination to take motorists to court as the Californian porn industry has to wearing condoms*. The Prankster already has one complaint in with the Credit Services Association against CP Plus's debt collectors for threatening court action when they know they will never do this, and is happy to add another.
Lastly, The Prankster hopes there is no comeback on the assessor for bravely and brazenly throwing the Lead Adjudicator's carefully crafted witness statement back in his face.
The Parking Prankster
* The Prankster only knows this through reading newspapers. He has not yet been asked to appear in a Californian porn movie.