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Council Change Policy on Exchanging Out of Date Visitors Parking Permits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recently to arrange an exchange, I was informed that this policy has recently changed and that they no longer exchange out of date but unused permits.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 That promise has now apparently been withdrawn.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

'Approximately five years....' that seems to give them wiggle room. They are making it up as they go along aren't they? 

This is interesting because I've just had an email exchange about this with them where they said: 

"Unfortunately, no exchanges are permitted, as per the terms and conditions printed on the reverse of the visitor permits and also posted on our website (copied below)."

I'll reply quoting the tweet and see what happens... 

It's also worth referring to the Traffic Management Order (see page 2 of this thread) which confirms that refunds should be paid (that was the authority they cited to me mistakenly as the reason for refusing repayment) - only if that has been legally superseded can they refuse a refund. If they say it has been superseded, ask for a copy of whatever has replaced it.

You might also quote the 2017 email reply I had from Giovanna Louca  (see page 3) saying that refunds are payable.

Good luck - let us know what happens.

Right, so I've heard back and they're now saying exactly what they said to you Hugh back in 2017 - that if I post them back I will get a refund. Which is really disingenuous - they say one thing on the site knowing it will put most people off, and then capitulate if you push them. 

One final issue I'd be grateful for views on, to help solve a dispute at home! We have a few ancient 'weekend passes' which cover a car from midday Friday to to midday on a Monday. They have no year on them so technically should still be valid but I'm pretty sure that if we used one we'd get a ticket as no attendant will have seen one in the near past. Has anyone used a ticket like this recently with (or without) problems? 

Thanks for coming back to give is the outcome. So it seems evident that there has been no new traffic management order withdrawing het refund provision. In which case they're beg outrageously dishonest in their dealings. 

I have some of those weekend passes as well so it would be useful to know if they can still be used

I loathe these examples of Haringey's apparent attempt to wriggle out of its stated obligations.

In my view there are fundamental principles at stake here. One is doing the right thing. They must know what it is.
Second, is acting as if an elected local council exists to serve local people. And not simply to shake as much money as possible out of our pockets.
Fourth: these sorts of transactions all have a small part to play in building confidence and trust between residents as citizens, local councillors, and the Council.

Also perhaps, that if people have the now widely held religious belief in the all-powerful market and worship Mammon, they should still pay attention to how the best-run, widely trusted businesses treat their customers.

In March 2009 I emailed Haringey's then Chief Executive Dr Ita O'Donovan suggesting:
"let’s behave like a reputable business instead of someone flogging dodgy DVDs at a car-boot sale".
She never responded to my suggestion. But eighty-four thousand people have since glanced at - or perhaps read - my email correspondence with Dr O'Donovan which I posted online. Plainly in some parts of the Council the advice is still relevant.

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