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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Council Change Policy on Exchanging Out of Date Visitors Parking Permits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recently to arrange an exchange, I was informed that this policy has recently changed and that they no longer exchange out of date but unused permits.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 That promise has now apparently been withdrawn.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, visitors parking permits

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Replies to This Discussion

That is really annoying. I wasn't aware of this. I also have a number of permits that will be out of date. I had just assumed I would be able to use them and just not scratch out the year. What a waste!

Ann Cunningham.... lol.

Hugh, you could always ask your visitors to do as they do in Crouch End and cover your car completely.

Apparently the parking inspectors are not allowed to lift the cover to check underneath and they're only allowed to put the ticket on the windscreen. Absolutely hilarious.

We've got neighbours who park visitors etc across their driveway and put black tape over the numberplate... it seems to defeat the parking wardens.  

They put black tape on the number plate so they can't be issued tickets?

Surely that is illegal

This in my inbox just now:

Thank you for your email. Firstly I would like to apologise for the delay in responding. 

I can confirm that there is no exchange or refund as per the  terms and conditions on the back of the updated visit vouchers. 

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 your permits. 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

Txxxxxx

Traffic Management

Alexandra House

10 Station Road, London N22 7TR

And my reply:

Thanks Txxxxxx. 

Before I return the permits, can you please let me know the basis on which your decision will be taken. Is it pure discretion or is there a policy framework which will guide your decision?
Can you tell me why the policy on exchanging expired vouchers was recently changed? 
Finally, are you on one of your managers also able to throw any light on why Haringey feels the need to make visitors vouchers time limited when most London boroughs including Enfield, Waltham Forest, Hackney, Islington, Camden and Barnet have non-expiring visitors permits?
Many thanks,
Hugh

On the Ladder, you can rent on-street parking for £75 per month. The online ad says daily parking permit required...
We noticed recently that a lot of the cars that use Pemberton Rd for parking have fake number plates Velcro'd on over the real ones, and over the Christmas and New Year period one of the cars that is always there had the number plate removed altogether.

Haven't seen that Lauren. Really?

Will have to watch for that...

This is news to me, in that I never knew that expired permits could be exchanged. I always thought once they expired that was it.

Yep, we're in one of the few London boroughs that seems happy to use visitors permits as a form a stealth tax.

That's really helpful, Hugh. We recently had exactly the same situation, and will take it up with the Council. I hope everyone else in this situation will do the same rather than throw away the out of date permits.....

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