Lewisham LBC (00/C/10143)
Special educational needs
'Mr and Mrs Griffin' (not their real names for legal reasons) complained that, following a revised statement of special educational needs having been agreed at a special educational needs tribunal, the council failed to provide the support required by the statement, and also failed to make necessary arrangements for the reintegration of their son into the school which he had earlier refused to attend.
Both the council and Mr and Mrs Griffin took up entrenched positions from which both were reluctant to move. However, the council met its legal duties and, while it might have been more sympathetic to the Griffins' concerns, the ombudsman does not find maladministration. The council should, however, have finalised Mr and Mrs Griffin's son's 14+ review and transition plan, and that failure, together with a partial failure to respond to their considerable correspondence, was maladministration causing them injustice.
The council has accepted that it should have finalised the transition plan and has offered an apology for any distress caused by its failure to do so. It is also willing to provide counselling and careers/training advice. The ombudsman recommends that, in addition, the council should make a payment of£250 to compensate Mr and Mrs Griffin for the unsatisfactory way the matter was dealt with.
Camden LBC (00/A/9260)
Planning consideration/neighbour amenity
'Mr Bartram' (not his real name for legal reasons) complained that the council had not correctly considered the possible effects on his home of a proposed neighbouring development when it granted planning permission. In particular, he said the council failed to give due account to potential instability and did not follow its own policy. He also complained that the council had attempted to mislead him when he complained about the decision.
The ombudsman finds that there was maladministration by the council. A report on the planning application omitted express mention of a policy that was relevant to the application. He considers that this caused injustice to Mr Bartram who was put to avoidable time and trouble in complaining to the council and to the ombudsman. He recommends that the council should pay Mr Bartram£250 in recognition of this. However, the ombudsman concludes that the omission did not flaw the decision to grant planning permission.
The ombudsman also concludes that although there were some discrepancies in the council's letters to Mr Bartram and others, they were not motivated by an intention to mislead or cover up.
Local settlement report
Staffordshire CC (00/C/18567)
Social services for adults
'Mrs Marlow' (not her real name for legal reasons) was concerned about a delay in allowing her access, as required by law, to her husband's file.
Mrs Marlow made a valid request to see the files by August 1999. The council eventually made the files available in June 2001. The ombudsman accepted that some delay was inevitable (eg to allow third parties to comment), but considered that the overall delay was maladministration. The council had taken the view that Mrs Marlow needed to renew her request when it had never in fact been withdrawn.
Following the issue of a draft of this report the council agreed to pay to Mrs Marlow£200, which the ombudsman accepts as a satisfactory resolution of the complaint.