That is all.


(Nothing to do with parking, for once).

More parking fun

So, I’ve now sent off my 2nd appeal against the parking fine. (Details here and here).

I’ll post my (4 page!) letter here, once I get York Council’s response.

Fingers crossed they see sense…


The Greens and Copyright


This is currently doing the rounds, and (understandably) getting a lot of creatives concerned.

The copyright thing is annoying, certainly, but I doubt it could ever get any real traction. First of all, it’s highly unlikely that the Greens will lead in the next decade or so – it would take at least 15-20 years for them to amass enough support for that to become a possibility. And if they happen to be the smaller party in a coalition (unlikely, but not *completely* beyond the realms of possibility), I doubt that copyright reform would be high on their list of priorities. And the likelihood of that level of copyright reform going through is pretty low, I’d say. And it would only materially affect those who rely largely on UK-based backlist royalties. Anyone whose main income is overseas will remain largely unaffected. Disney will still have to pay you for your rights if they want to produce and distribute it in the US and elsewhere. And while I don’t for a second agree with a 14 year copyright term, I do believe the current legislation is too restrictive.

And if/when the Greens *do* come into power in 15-20 years or more? It’ll be a different bunch, with different views, and decades more experience under their belts.

Voting Green this time around won’t be a vote towards copyright reform, but it will help indicate a general dissatisfaction with the current 2.5 party system we suffer under. If you’re against Lab/Con/Dem at the moment, don’t let the prospect of a discussion about copyright in 2 decades’ time dissuade you from voting with your feet.

Or your pencil.

York Council’s response…

to this letter (click).


Dear Mr Harris,

Thank you for your letter of objection against the issue of the above penalty charge notice. 

The points that you made in your letter have been carefully considered.  I regret to advise that you have not established grounds for cancellation of the penalty charge notice and it remains payable because you were parked in a council car park without a valid ticket or valid resident discount permit.

I understand the points you have made regarding the advertisement of the changes to the Minster badge scheme, however, I am unable to cancel the PCN based on the effectiveness of it. The council took measures to ensure all residents were notified and these were deemed sufficient. I understand that you do not wish to purchase a new permit, as such, I am unable to cancel this PCN.

You have a period of 14 days, beginning with the day that you receive this letter, to make payment at the discount amount of £25. If you wish to pay by debit or credit card you can do so online at  or by contacting the Parking Office on 01904 551309. If you wish to send payment please make your cheque or postal order, payable to ‘City Of York Council’ and send your payment to; Parking Services, City Of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA. Please quote the above penalty charge notice number with your payment. 

If the payment is not received within a 14 day period, beginning with the day that you receive this letter, the discount amount will no longer be available and the full charge of £50 will be payable.  You are legally deemed to have received this letter two working days after the date it was sent. 

If the penalty charge remains unpaid after 28 days from service, we may then serve a legal document called a ‘Notice to Owner’ on the owner of the vehicle. At that stage, the vehicle owner, or driver on behalf of the owner, will be able to make further formal representations against the penalty charge notice.  We will consider further representations even where we have previously concluded that the evidence presented is not such that we can cancel the penalty charge notice.  In order to ensure impartiality if you decide to make further representations a different Council Officer will consider them.

If we decide to reject the formal representations and the owner, or driver on behalf of the owner, is not satisfied with the decision that has been made, they may then appeal to the independent ‘Traffic Penalty Tribunal’ within 28 days of the service of a ‘Notice of Rejection’ by us.  Further details of the ‘Traffic Penalty Tribunal’ are available at and further information regarding the civil parking enforcement procedure is also available at  Information concerning our parking and enforcement policies and procedures is available on our website at If you have any further queries regarding the matter please do not hesitate to contact the Parking Office on 01904-551309.

Yours sincerely 

Lindsey Kelly
Technical Administrator


Needless to say, as the council did not inform me that the undated residents’ badge that they issued had been cancelled, I will be appealing this decision. How silly that they feel it worth going through the time and expense to try to get an extra £25 out of me!

It isn’t easy being Green…

I’ve become increasingly interested and invested in politics since the last election. The last time around I voted Lib Dem. This was partly a reaction against the Conservatives, and against Labour. The Lib Dems (at that point) were the only major (!) political party to have not yet had the opportunity to disappoint on a national scale. They promised everything (of course) and then they got into bed with the Tories, took a shit on my doorstep and tried to convince me it was chocolate. Meanwhile, the Evil League of Evil (aka the Conservative Party) took the opportunity to begin the wholesale sell-off of our national resources to their pals, their donors and themselves, all the while congratulating themselves that they managed to defraud us for so many years with their expense claims (though to be fair, that last bit was also Labour and the Lib Dems).

So, no Tory vote, that’s for sure. It would be like voting for the hordes of hell to administer the staff pension fund. Or something. It’s not a great analogy, I know. But it would be bad, ok? That’s the general gist. I have absolutely no doubt that if the Tories stayed in power, the standard of living in this country would deteriorate at an unprecedented pace.

Who else? Labour? Well, they don’t have an amazing track record over the last couple of decades, and I remain unconvinced by Millibland.

UKIP? Fuck off.

Green? Well, yes. Their policies are generally sensible, and they appear to have the national interest at heart. Their policies align more closely with my wishes for the country more than any other party.

So, Green. I joined the Green Party a few months ago – the first time in my life I’ve felt strongly enough to actually join a political party.

But isn’t Green a wasted vote?

I don’t believe so, no. Do they have a hope in hell of getting into power this term? Not a chance. But interest in the Greens has never been higher. They have more members than UKRAP, and their growth is greater than any other party. They’ll probably come 4th this year. I hope they’ll come 4th, and not the we’re-not-racist-it’s-just-our-members-that-are-racist party. But people will see how many others are voting for them, and people will see that they’re not alone in not wanting Labour/Tories to dominate. So this time Greens could come 4th. Maybe next time, too. Maybe 3rd in 8 years’ time. And in 12. And maybe in 16 years they’ll be big enough to be a real contender.

“But they don’t have any real experience at governing,” I hear you say. Well, that’s a good point – thanks for bringing it up. No, they don’t. Not yet. But as they – and their prospects – grow over the coming decade and a half, so will their experience. By the time they’re big enough, and popular enough, they’ll be ready.

If we only vote Labour/Tory we will only ever have a Labour or Tory government. That’s not democracy – that’s a trap of our own making. If we vote according to our conscience and beliefs, and not vote tactically, perhaps one day, one day, we’ll have a government that cares about us, and not one that simply wants to milk us for all we’re worth.

So, a vote for Green (or for the party of your choosing) is not a wasted vote. The only wasted vote is the one you didn’t use, or the one you didn’t believe in when you cast it.


A letter to York Council, contesting a parking fine

Some background:

City of York Council used to issue discount parking badges to residents. These badges were free of charge, saved 20-30p per hour on parking, and did not have expiration dates.

They recently changed this scheme, but were unsuccessful in letting everyone know they were changing the scheme. I contested the parking ticket, and it was only when they replied to it that I was informed that the residents’ scheme had ended, to be replaced by a different programme, that required residents to pay for their discount badges.

Here’s my follow-up (images have rotated, for some reason, and I can’t be arsed to fix them):

Your ref: Penalty Charge Notice: XXXXXX

Dear Ms XXX,

Many thanks for your letter, dated 14th April.

On 11th April, I received a PCN attached to my windscreen at Castle Car Park. This surprised me, as I had paid for parking by telephone, and the PCN had been attached before the parking had run out. I had paid at the residents’ discount price, as I have a residents’ discount badge in my windscreen (see below).



Your letter stated that the discount badge was out of date. Of course, looking at the badge itself, you’ll see that there is no expiry date on it, and I was completely unaware that City of York Council had removed this benefit to residents.

Your letter stated that “the Council aimed to conduct an extensive advertising and marketing campaign to ensure all residents were aware of the change before the cut off date of 31st of August” last year. I had never been informed, so although that was your aim, it was not completely achieved.

You stated, “This included articles in the York press”. I don’t read local newspapers, so did not see this.

You stated, “and also signage and posters in the car parks”. Well, I visited Castle Car Park today. There are no posters at the entrance, at all. There is, however a very small, scratched sticker on the ticket machine:


But this is small, and it is – somewhat bizarrely – located at hip height: IMG_0975









This means that someone purchasing a ticket would need to be reading an old sticker at hip height, in order to know the detail, and you wouldn’t expect someone to do that unless they were specifically looking out for it. It’s not as if the Council has gone out of its way to make these stickers stand out in any way, is it?

Also, of course, a driver will only see these stickers if he or she is (a) looking down and (b) standing in front of the machine. Drivers (like me) who buy their parking tickets by phone or through the parking app will never get to see these stickers. On the phone payment system you could have a voice message stating that the old residents’ badges are no longer valid, but you have chosen not to.

Your letter also states that the Council “commissioned a letter drop for every household in York which explained the changes in the resident scheme”. I did not receive one of these letters. I also did not receive the annual household refuse collection timetable when it was sent out at the end of last year, but was told that I could order one online (at When I enter my postcode, however, my address appears not to be in the system. Try it. I suspect this is why I also did not receive your letter about the parking scheme.

The first I heard that my undated residents’ parking badge was no longer valid was when I received your letter of 14 April 2015. I therefore continue to contest the ticket on the grounds that the contravention did not occur (as the Council failed in its duty to inform me that my discount badge was no longer valid) and that this was due to a procedural impropriety.

In your letter you accept that I was unaware of the changes, and that you will cancel the PCN if I buy a new discount badge. As the discount badges are now chargeable, and at a rate greater than the savings I would enjoy as a badge-holder, I will not be purchasing the new badge – I do not park in council-run car parks often enough to warrant paying the badge fee. It’s a real shame that the Council has decided to remove the resident’s discount benefit and replace it with a revenue-generating scheme instead.

So, I will not be purchasing a badge that will cost me more than the savings it offers, an I will continue to contest this PCN. Should you decide to not cancel the PCN I will appeal the decision. I am sure you will agree that it is fair to cancel this particular penalty charge. After all, it isn’t as if I tried to get away without paying – I paid £2.40 for the hour (including pay-by-phone fees – see receipt copy, attached). That’s 30p less than I would have paid, had I known the badge was no longer accepted. It’s also exactly the same price I would have paid had I been a non-resident, paying at the machine.

It’s also worth noting that your online system for contesting PCNs allows drivers to upload documents in support of their claim. However, it rejects .pdf documents. Can you guess in what format your PayByPhone parking system issues receipts? I’ll give you a clue – it starts with P and ends with F.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Harris


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