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CHICHESTER SINGLED OUT BY OMBUDSMAN

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Chichester DC is a discredit to local government after deliberately ignoring a judgment made against it, the local ...
Chichester DC is a discredit to local government after deliberately ignoring a judgment made against it, the local government ombudsman has said.

In his annual report, ombudsman Jerry White said he could not understand Chichester?s refusal to pay compensation of £500 and £1,000 to two complainants whose grievances were upheld.

?The council advertises the ombudsman as the third and final stage of its complaints procedure. Yet its citizens should be aware the council seems to have no compunction in rejecting any decision it chooses not to like,? said Mr White.

?This is a council that apparently finds it very hard to admit it has made a mistake.?

A Chichester DC spokesman said it had tried to help both complainants: ?The Ombudsman had to withdraw a grounds for maladministration with an apology. He persisted in claiming there were exceptional circumstances in one of the cases but refused to explain them to us, and on the last occasion, took three and a half months to reply to us.?

Scarborough BC was also singled out after its failure to respond to concern over delays in the remittance of housing benefit appeals.

Ombudsman Patricia Thomas said she was disappointed to have to issue another report, just eight months after she first expressed concern: ?The council told me it had put in extra resources to reduce its backlog, hence the time taken. That clearly did not happen.?

Scarborough?s director of corporate services, Trevor Teasdale, said the backlog had now been cleared.

?There was a delay in getting to grips with onerous new [appeal] procedures as the authority had to get specific employees in place, carry out training and buy new software to deal with an increased workload that the changes brought,? he said.

Ms Thomas praised the ?great strides? made by Liverpool City Council to reduce its backlog of housing benefit appeals.

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