Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another anti LGO web-site identified!

A veritable gold mine of information about the Local Government Ombudsman.
Well worth a visit or two, or hundreds due to the vast amount of information
in many subject areas on the site/s.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

LGO merger with PHSO

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) and the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) want to merge and become the Public Sector Ombudsman (PSO). This story will give the PHSO a taste of what it is going to be like when they merge with the LGO. LGO watchers are ready and waiting to become PSO watchers.
Jim Tanner's story about the VOA and the PHSO

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Messages for the LGO

There is no difference between an organisation that commits acts of maladministration and those that stand idly by whilst they carry them out. A proverb from Uganda with a twist.

Truth is like oil, no matter how much water you pour on it, it will always float. A proverb from Nigeria without a twist.

A tribunal of foxes will always find the fox innocent. A proverb from Ghana with a twist.

If you think all Council staff tell the truth, then you have not met all the council staff. A proverb from Malawi with a twist.

Saving the best till last,

A deceiver's ultimate victim is himself. A proverb from the Congo without a twist.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ombudsman promotes maladministration

A Welsh Ombudsman Watcher has an interesting insight into one of the problems with Local Government Ombudsmen read his story here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More LGO smoke, mirrors and spin!

LGO still fiddling statistics.

In their 2005/6 annual report Appendix 2(d) the Ombudsmen state that during 1998/1999 they issued 235 reports of maladministration leading to injustice.

I was one of those statistics because the report into my complaint was issued during the Autumn of 1998.

The annual report then states that there are no reports issued in 1998/1999 still awaiting a final outcome. Yet I am still waiting for the '‘final outcome'’ recommended by the then Ombudsman in their report. So how did they record mine?

Here'’s the fiddle, if the LGO believe the council may not provide the remedy (or they are going to take a long time about it) they just end their involvement suggesting that they are satisfied the council is doing everything possible to provide the remedy. Even when, as in my case, nothing could be further from the truth.

So there you have it, here I am still waiting for the final outcome yet the Local Government Ombudsman gives the statistical impression in their 2005/6 annual report that there are no 1998/1999 reports still waiting for a final outcome. 8 years of smoke, mirrors, spin and massaged statistics.

I wonder how many other complainants they have stuffed just to enhance their statistics?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

New dilemma for BIOA and LGO

British and Irish Ombudsman’s Association (BIOA) members felt that they should publish a general statement on good complaint-handling principles and service standards which publicly represent their collegiate position.

To achieve this the Executive Committee agreed to establish a working group with the aim of identifying and drawing up a statement which can be used as a measure of quality assurance by current and potential BIOA members and other complaint-handling schemes and individuals, as well as those interested in the provision of such services. This information was published in the August issue of 'The Ombudsman' (The Newsletter of the BIOA).

The LGO are founder members of the BIOA yet the they have introduced the most perverse complaints handling principles and service standards that one could imagine. In addition they have an internal complaints procedure that wouldn’t be out of place in a third world dictatorship.

One of the members of the working group is going to be Jerry White, Local Government Ombudsman Coventry Office. I wonder how the LGO are going to get out of this one? Will Jerry White try and change the BIOA statement to minimise the problem with their own procedures or will the LGO change their procedures to meet the BIOA collegiate position?

A clue to what may happen can be found in an earlier posting about LGO accountability.

How did the LGO and the BIOA handle that problem. Did they ask the LGO to resign as members of the BIOA because they didn’t meet the membership criteria or did the BIOA change their entry criteria to allow the unaccountable LGO to remain members?

They did neither, they just removed the entry criteria from their web-site so it became more difficult for people to realise that their founder member did not in fact meet their membership criteria. No doubt one of the perks of being the founder member of the BIOA.

Unfortunately for the BIOA they have now given the LGO and themselves a another dilemma. The BIOA now stipulate that members should abide by the laws of natural justice but as everyone knows the LGO don’t.

So we now have the extraordinary situation that a founder member of the BIOA doesn’t meet at least two of the criteria necessary for membership of the very association they introduced; Accountability and Natural Justice. On top of that the BIOA are just about to issue a statement on good complaint handling procedures, procedures that the LGO has demonstrably failed to introduce themselves over the last 32 years.

You just couldn’t make this sort of stuff up but laughable as it may be it also clearly demonstrates the lack of integrity present within both organisations

Saturday, September 16, 2006

6 Months to provide a remedy?

In the Local Government Ombudsman's 2005/6 annual report they state that councils are allowed 6 months to provide the remedy for their acts of maladministration. Presumably before the LGO take further action and issue a second report.

The LGO issued a report into my original complaint during October 1998. To date (16/9/2006) the council has still not provided the remedy and the Ombudsman has still not taken any further action. In fact during 2002 following the submission of another complaint the Ombudsman ended her involvement with my 1997/8 complaint and refused to investigate my 2002 complaint.

Six months! I've been waiting 8 years. Their report is nothing more than a load of smoke, mirrors and spin to further their own evangelical agenda.

Retired LGO's article reveals the truth.

After I wrote the earlier post, Ex LGO shows true colours, I realised that she had also exposed the whole sad truth about the then Local Government Ombudsmen.

It can be deduced from her article, when, why and how they decided to manipulate complaints rather than submit a report should they find evidence of maladministration.

I have decided to write a full article about my deductions rather than a simple post. I hope to have the article ready in a week or so. As soon as it's ready I will post in the archive and provide a link from this blog.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ex LGO shows true colours!

Pat Thomas who retired during 2005 wrote an article for the British and Irish Ombudsman’s Association.

Parts of her article clearly proves how sycophantic and biased Local Government Ombudsmen are. No doubt Mrs Thomas handled all the complaints over her 20 years as a Local Government Ombudsman with the same sycophantic behaviour and perverse assumptions.

For example

"One council leader told me that, although the council did not dispute my findings, he could not apologise because he would “lose face”! In that case we found a form of words which recognised the council’s fault but avoided the use of the word “sorry”.

Why did she feel the need to suck up to a Council Leader, particularly one she had clearly found at fault. I think her statement clearly shows that Local Government Ombudsmen have no professional integrity whatsoever. Can you imagine a Judge helping a convicted person in the same sycophantic way.

Another example

"Councils, however, began to develop their own complaints procedures and we began to notice that the complaints we were receiving seemed to be getting more difficult to resolve. We assumed that the easier, or more straightforward, justified complaints were being settled by councils without the need for our intervention."

This again shows how a Local Government Ombudsman’s beliefs can prejudice a complainants case. She assumed that councils were settling justified complaints. That means she must have thought that any complaint the council didn’t settle were not justified.

Now we know why complainants had so much difficulty in persuading Mrs Thomas that their complaint was justified. I know I did.

Mrs Thomas' article was published in issue 28 April 2006 of the Ombudsman the British and Irish Ombudsman's Association's newsletter.

Friday, September 08, 2006

New Blog Ring

To make it easier for people to find information about the LGO a number of Local Government Ombudsman Watchers have banded together to form a blog ring. This allows visitors to cycle through a number of blogs just by clicking one button. We expect the number of ring members to slowly increase over the coming months and also hope that new members will bring a different slant to the problem we all have with the LGO. In addition, sites of interest and other peoples stories are also linked from each blog.

Although this blog ring is a seperate entity to the Ombudsman Watch web-site I must stress that it is not in competition with it. This blog ring has been set up to provide an additional resource to the web-site. We fully support the Ombudsman Watch web-site. Blogs are just an easy way of allowing supporters to tell their own story or express their own feelings about the LGO.

New LGO Blog

An Ombudsman Watcher has started a new blog focusing on frequently asked questions about the LGO. If you would like to visit the new blog please click here.

As far as I am aware when they have listed their FAQs they intend to invite new questions from members of the public. That should be interesting.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Are Local Government Ombudsmen a waste of time and public money?

During 1998 a Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) found Vale Royal Borough Council (VRBC) guilty of maladministration. VRBC had ignored serious planning breaches over the previous eight years.

Following the LGO’s report VRBC stated that lessons had been learnt and steps would be taken to improve the system. Did the LGO’s intervention bring about an improvement? Did VRBC learn their lesson and improve the system? During 2005/6 I set about trying to find out.

I identified that a local play area (linked to the problems over the previous eight years) should have been completed and handed over to the council before a number of houses on the development were occupied. This planning condition was also secured with a legal agreement between the developer and VRBC. During the spring of 2001 the houses, that were the subject of the planning condition, were sold by the developer and occupied.

During 2005/6 I became suspicious that the play area had still not been handed over to the Council. Using the Freedom of Information Act I identified that the Council were not responsible for maintaining the play area because it was still owned by the developer. I decided to bring the breach of planning condition to the attention of VRBC so they could take enforcement action. In fact I couldn’t understand why they hadn’t taken any action between 2001 and 2006.

VRBC confirmed that the play area was still in private hands and had not yet been handed over to the Council, then provided the most bizarre explanation as to why they hadn’t (and wouldn’t) enforce the breach.

They stated that it was up to the developer to ensure they were not in breach of the agreement by handing over the play area at the appropriate time. In addition, VRBC stated that they were not in a position to know when and if the houses were occupied because that would entail someone from VRBC doing a site visit. I pointed out that the people living in the houses had been paying VRBC council tax for the last 5 years but VRBC staff didn’t understand the irony of what I was saying.

Further evidence to prove my point can be found in the LGO’s latest annual letters to VRBC. The LGO is still critical of planning enforcement at VRBC.

'In the three cases involving the same issue we found that the Council failed to follow up breaches of planning permission with sufficient rigour and failed to keep the complainants fully informed. This is not uncommon nationally and is a general cause for concern. Control of development is important to citizens and if there are breaches in control rigour is needed. The Council has discretion here but cannot abdicate its responsibility. In the particular cases my Investigator was not convinced that the Council really accepted that anything had gone wrong. In one sense it clearly did because it paid out compensation but I trust that the Council has accepted these critical judgements. I would value some assurance on this point and information on action that was intended to improve the Council's performance in this area.'

To my knowledge VRBC have been guilty of ignoring planning breaches for over 16 years and in spite of the LGO’s involvement things have not improved.

So the answer to my question must be, the LGO are a waste of time and public money!

Footnote: VRBC Vale Royal Borough Council has now been replaced with CWaCC Cheshire West and Chester Council. Nothing has changed.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Tony Parrish 1 Liverpool Council 0

Well done Tony Parrish the mystery blogger who has caused quite a stir in Liverpool.

There have been a number of articles in the press recently about councils and they all had three things in common, chief executive officers, money and maladministration.

Could the fact that all three local government ombudsmen are ex council chief executives be the reason why their investigations never expose these things?