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LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMEN INVESTIGATION REPORTS ISSUED SINCE 1 OCTOBER 1998

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Local Government Ombudsmen investigation reports issued since 1 October 1998 ...
Local Government Ombudsmen investigation reports issued since 1 October 1998

Findings of maladministration and injustice

Harborough District Council (97/B/4670)

Homelessness

There were failings in the way the council dealt with a man's homelessness and his eviction from a hostel. He presented himself as homeless in June 1996 and was immediately housed in a council hostel while investigations were carried out. Those investigations ended by early August, but no decision was given to the man on whether the council had a duty to house him, which was a breach of the council's statutory duty and was maladministration. The council served a notice requiring the man to quite the hostel within seven days for having friends staying in his room. He should have been given a written warning of this first and be given an opportunity to refute the evidence against him and/or alter his behaviour. Failure to do so was maladministration. The decision to evict him was made in the absence of a decision as to whether the council retained any duty to house him, and was flawed by maladministration. On receiving the Notice the man returned to his parents, and no assessment was made by the council on whether that discharged it of responsibility to him, which was maladministration. As a consequence of the council's maladministration, the man lived in unsuitable housing for perhaps 18 months longer than he need have done. The council should pay him£1,750 and offer him suitable accommodation as soon as possible.

Ashfield District Council (97/C/4303)

Housing transfers

A woman complained that the Council unreasonably refused to approve a mutual exchange of houses, failed to deal properly with her request for rehousing or take account of her complaints of racial harassment in the area where she formerly lived. The Ombudsman found no evidence of maladministration in the way the Council dealt with the complainant's allegations of racial harassment at her former address. There was no evidence that the perpetrators were Council tenants. There was maladministration in the Council's refusal to approve retrospectively the mutual exchange of houses which the complainant undertook without the Council's consent, because it had earlier offered her a neighbouring property and it subsequently, albeit reluctantly, offered her another neighbouring property. As a result the complainant had to undertake two further moves: back to her old address and then to the newly offered property. The Council should pay the complainant for the cost of the loan to enable her to return to her former address and the cost of the removal to her new address, plus half the cost of the carpets in her present home.

London Borough of Redbridge (97/A/2365)

Social services for adults

A woman complained that the council failed to deal properly with her request for assistance with the installation of a shower. She first asked for help in January 1993. She or her husband contacted the council again in January, May, September and November 1994 and in February 1995. The first assessment was not done until 22 February 1995. However, the council was short of occupational therapists. It had recognised the problem and tried to reduce waiting times. The Ombudsman considered it unlikely that, even if there had been no delay in the assessment, grant aid would have been offered sooner than autumn 1996. But it was maladministration for the council not to answer the complainant's letters sent in 1994. And it there was maladministration in that the council, having offered grant aid in 1996, did not install the shower until July 1998. The council should pay the complainant£500.

Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council (97/C/2679)

Highways

A man complained that the Council failed to deal with issues of unauthorised parking and inadequate parking provision for residents close to his home promptly or properly. It also failed to deal with his complaint about these issues promptly, and did not acknowledge the fact that he had made a formal complaint. The Ombudsman found that there was a lengthy delay in getting the second road marking installed, but thought the Council had taken reasonable and measured steps to deal with the matter. The council should apologise to the complainant and pay him£250 in recognition of the shortcomings in the way they dealt with his complaint. If the second road marking is not effective, it should consider whether the installation of bollards would be appropriate. The Council should also review its criteria for registering formal complaints and consider the provision of training for key officers in complaints handling.

Findings of no maladministration

Erewash Borough Council (97/C/2568)

Planning : consideration/neighbour amenity

A man complained about the Council's grant of planning permission to itself for improvements on a recreation ground. In particular, he alleged a failure to consult properly, a lack of full consideration and improper political considerations. The complaint was not upheld.

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