Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (00/C/231)
Council housing management, other
'Mr and Mrs Morgan' (not their real names for legal reasons) are tenants of the council. After they had taken up a new tenancy the council inspected their old home and informed them that they were responsible for the cost of rectifying over£2,000 worth of damage.
The ombudsman finds that there were flaws in the way the council came to its decision. In particular, Mr and Mrs Morgan had not been given an opportunity to comment on the alleged damage before the decision was taken.
The ombudsman finds maladministration causing injustice and recommends that the council should remit 50% of the sum sought from Mr and Mrs Morgan.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council (99/C/4475)
Planning: consideration/neighbour amenity and publicity for planning applications
'Mr Shaw' (not his real name for legal reasons) complained about the way that the council granted planning permission for unlimited outdoor play activity and the retention of security spikes at a privately run children's nursery next door to him.
The ombudsman finds that maladministration had caused injustice to Mr Shaw and that otherwise playtime could have been restricted - albeit to a lesser extent than Mr Shaw might have wished. The council's notification procedure was flawed and Mr Shaw was effectively denied the ability to see the planning file.
The relevant reports were not as full or as forceful as they might have been and that was compounded by some (inadvertently) misleading advice from a member.
The ombudsman recommends that the council pays Mr Shaw£1,500. Alternatively, the council might seek the agreement of the developer to restrict playtime to reflect the situation as if no maladministration had occurred. In the latter event Mr Shaw should receive£250 to account for his time and trouble. The council also needs to ensure that the failures identified do not recur.
Sheffield City Council (99/C/4255)
Special educational needs
'Mr Taylor' (not his real name for legal reasons) complained of unreasonable delay by the council in issuing a statement of special educational needs for his son. He complained also of a failure to provide education for about a year.
The ombudsman is critical of the council in certain respects. It failed to make clear that a right of appeal existed against the Council's naming of a particular school (the council has since changed its practice to ensure that this does happen). The ombudsman also finds that the council's reasons for not taking action to ensure that some education was provided was confusing and indicative of a neglect of its duty towards the child. The council's maladministration had caused injustice to both the child and his father.
The ombudsman recommends that the council pay£750 in total to remedy the injustice that arises.
The former Hereford & Worcester County Council (98/B/4253)
(successor authority Herefordshire Council)
'Miss Baxter' (not her real name for legal reasons) complains about the care her father received in a local authority residential home. She feels that the care was not appropriate to his needs and that the council failed to consider properly moving him to a nursing home.
The ombudsman finds maladministration causing injustice and recommends that the council make Miss Baxter an ex gratia payment of£1,000 in recognition of the avoidable distress she has been caused.
Three Rivers District Council (99/B/3028)
Council housing repairs
A local citizens advice bureau complained, on behalf of 'Mr and Mrs Laurel' (not their real names for legal reasons), about the way the council dealt with a serious structural fault to their home. Mr and Mrs Laurel had to make alternative arrangements over Christmas. Mrs Laurel also complained that the failure of workmen to arrive at appointed times meant that she had lost one of her part-time jobs.
In October 1998, soon after accepting a council tenancy, Mr and Mrs Laurel found cracks in a wall. Remedial works were needed to replace a failing lintel which provided structural support to the front of the house.
The council carried out a structural survey and decided that works to repair the lintel should be carried out at the same time as the programmed replacement of the windows. Acrow props were installed in the sitting room until works were completed. In December Mr Laurel found further cracks in the bedroom which also needed repair.
On 18 December Mr Laurel asked the council for information about when the repairs would be undertaken and was told that the contractor would be off-site for two weeks over the Christmas period.
Repair work started on 9 February. Mr and Mrs Laurel complained to the Council about the way windows had been installed and the contractor was asked to carry out remedial work.
All substantial works to the property were completed by 1 April.
When the citizens advice bureau pursued the complaint with the council it offered£150 towards the inconvenience and increased electricity bills suffered by Mr and Mrs Laurel.
The ombudsman finds maladministration causing injustice and recommends that the Council pays Mr and Mrs Laurel£300 compensation and£100 for their time and trouble in pursuing their complaint with the council and with him.