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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Council Change Policy on Exchanging Out of Date Visitors Parking Permits

Until quite recently, the Council would exchange any unused visitors parking permits that had passed the latest date printed on them at the time of issue. They never made it easy, but it used at least to be possible.

When I called the Council recently to arrange an exchange, I was informed that this policy has recently changed and that they no longer exchange out of date but unused permits. This isn't a life-changing issue, but it is annoying and rather dishonest. At the time I bought my last batch of permits, it was still a bit of pain to get them. So I bought a bundle. I noticed that the vouchers only had three (out of a possible five) years of validity remaining. However, I was assured by the Council at the time that they could be exchanged if I held them past their use-by date. That promise has now apparently been withdrawn.

I hold about £10 of expired tickets. So, as I said, it's not a big deal, but I feel a somewhat aggrieved about it.

I've looked at the Council's page on visitors' parking permits. It says nothing about permits expiring and includes only the following.   

By avoiding the opportunity of  clearly stating that the permits cannot be exchanged, the suggestion is, if anything, that exchange can be arranged by email. Certainly here's no hint of absolute expiry.

I wrote to the address provided on 30th May. I got a pro forma reply which incuded the following:

The Traffic Management Team aim to respond to e-mails regarding permits, visitor vouchers, ID numbers and queries within five working days. Occasionally, due to high volumes of purchases there will be periods that the process time may take longer.

We are now 15 days after my email with no sign of a reply. It's tempting just to sigh and move on as I'm doing on an increasing number of occasions with the Council these days. But I started wondering if anyone else might be affected, either knowingly or unknowingly.

The policy on this issue clearly varies between Councils.

Camden visitors permits have no exipry date.

The most up-to-date information I have shows this is also true for Hackney, Islington, Enfield, Waltham Forest, Barnet, Barking & Dagneham, Lambeth, Redbridge and Richmond amongst others.

Brent do theirs online so the issue of expiry doesn't arise.

The Ealing website has the following:

Any visitor voucher displaying an expired year can still be used. When displaying a voucher with an expired year, please do not scratch the year or write the year on the voucher.

Merton has:

visitor permits do not have an expiry date

Newham has this:

Resident visitor parking permits are non-refundable. You must use your visitor parking permits before they expire (the years they are valid are shown on the permits). We will not replace any permits that are out of date.

Evidently, councils have a free choice on this matter. For those councils that chose to issue permits with years, Newham's approach is harsh but at least it is transparent. Ealing and Merton seem like the fair option to me. Haringey is not fair, neither does it offer transparency. It has apparently adopted a Newham position but declines to make that transparent.

So three questions:

1. Why does Haringey feel the need to set expiry dates on our permits when so many councils don't, including ALL of our neighbouring councils?

2. If there is a reason for setting an expiry date, why did they decide not to change the policy on exchanging expired ones?

3. If they do have an expiry date with a no-exchange policy, why don't they make that clear so we can make informed decisions at the time of purchase?

So I thought I'd see if I could find out any more on the issue. Mr Google drew a blank, so as my next step I've just sent the following Freedom of Information request request through website www.whatdotheyknow.com (sadly this was written when I was only half-way through digging around about this issue. Still, I'll let this one ride and follow-up with more questions if necessary).

Dear Haringey Borough Council,

Please send me details of any policy which concerns:

1. the ability of residents to return out of date visitor's parking permits and exchange them for valid permits. According to your officers, the policy on this matter has recently changed. Please inform me of the date of the change, the date from which the change was operative and provide me with the papers showing who authorised the change and explaining why the change was made.

2. the Council's approach to the length of validity of parking vouchers at the time of issue. The current design means that vouchers are valid for a maximum of five years. Does your policy stipulate how many years validity there must be on a visitor's parking permit when it is sold to a resident.

Please also let me know the legal instruments on which your decisions relating to this matter are made. Please specify the particular clause within those instruments which you use as a basis for making your decision to refuse to exchange out of date permits. 

Yours faithfully,

Hugh Flouch

The enquiry is online on the website here.

Tags for Forum Posts: parking, parking permits, visitor parking permits

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Here's the reply to my follow-up question about refunds:

Dear Mr Flouch,

Thank you for your email.

In answer to your question, residents may ask for refund of expired Visitors Permits and are entitled to a refund of the charge made at the time the permits were originally ordered. Should you wish to surrender the expired permits for a refund of the charge made, please send them for the attention of myself at the address noted in my signature below.

Kind Regards

Giovanna Louca 
Information and Governance Officer

Alexandra House, 
10, Station Road, 
Wood Green, 
London N22 7TR

0208 489 2869

[email address
www.haringey.gov.uk 
twitter@haringeycouncil 
facebook.com/haringeycouncil

The fact that I'm asked to return them to a member of the FOI team, does make me wonder if giving a refund is an exceptional circumstance. Given what the staff are told the tell the public,  it wouldn't surprise me.

By way of a postscript, I was down in Brighton at the weekend and learned that the council there is soon to introduce the purchase of visitor permits in the same way as most of us pay for on street parking now - by way of an app. Can we hope that Haringey will introduce such a system before too long and let us all move on from the current system which has been too broke for too long.

I've now sent off the permits to Giovanna Louca. However before I received the email above, I wrote to the traffic team asking if they'd refund my permits. Just today, I received the following reply:

Thank you for your email.

Please return your expired vouchers and a covering letter to the address below for consideration based upon the terms and conditions on the reverse of the permit. Once we have these the team will make a decision and respond to you.

London Borough of Haringey
PO Box 55235
London
N22 9DF

Should you need any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us again at permits-vouchers@haringey.gov.uk

Kind regards

 Jo

Traffic Management

Alexandra House

10 Station Road, London N22 7TR

 

Whilst I'm assuming that it makes no material difference to the outcome in my case, I'm still a bit dismayed that they're still presenting a need to make a decision. It sounds rather like there's no change in advice to the staff to adhere to the Council's own rules. So I've replied, asking exactly what decision it is that needs to be made.

I'm waiting on the result of your endeavors before I test it by returning mine.

re postscript- this would be dificult if you don't have a printer.

You won't need a printer. Just like on-street parking, you'll just need access to the appropriate app or the Haringey website. Of course this means that you will need access to an internet connected computer or a smart phone.

Hi Hugh,

Thanks for getting to the bottom of this. One question though: If I do not want to return the expired permits (it's only 2 and expired last month) will my visitor get a parking fine if he displays the permit on his car? Thanks

I don't know the official position on this, but my assumption would be that yes your visitor will get a fine if using an expired permit.

Hi Hugh,

Sorry to resurrect such an old thread but I've just spotted our bunch of vouchers have expired and the only information I can find online is of course, yours posted here (as ever!)

I wondered, did you get your refund? Were you able to exchange them for valid ones?

Thanks,

Charlotte

No apologies needed. There's untold treasures in all the old threads!

I did get a refund. Their grudging acceptance of fairness only went so far though. They would only refund what I paid and would not replace them with current permits, like pretty much every other London borough willingly does.

They're apparently irked at having their hand thus forced and have quickly acted to close what they seemingly saw as a loophole. 

Wonder if anyone can help me out. It's been ages (years) since I bought visitors permits online and I've lost the details needed to buy some more. The site doesn't assist in finding your details for you of course. Any suggestions anyone? I've emailed but council services so slow so by the time they answer I'll need the permits no doubt! 

Cheers

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