Friday, July 27, 2007

LGO: Unfit for the purpose? Part 2

In my earlier post 'LGO: Unfit for the purpose?' I used one of my complaints to illustrate how Local Government Ombudsmen appear to have difficulty identifying an unequivocal case of maladministration. Here I present another of my complaints to prove that it wasn't a one off mistake.

This is the third of the seven complaints I submitted during March 2002.

Without the necessary authority proceeded to execute plan CE/11329/50/29.

The road in question is not yet a highway. Under the terms of the Section 38 Agreement the Highway Authority only had the contractual right to complete the works in default. Or in the case of triggering the bond, (which they did) specify the default work to be carried out. Plan CE/11329/50/29 shows work which, under the terms of the Section 38 agreement, does not constitute default work. Therefore the Highway Authority has no statutory or contractual authority to implement plan CE/11329/50/29.

In addition they didn't even have planning approval or permission for plan CE/11329/50/29.

Adding to those acts of maladministration they later lied about their need to obtain planning permission.

So we have another situation in which a child could have proven maladministration within weeks of receiving my complaint, however, after 5 years the Local Government Ombudsman still appears to be having some difficulty.

Further supporting the argument that the Local Government Ombudsman is unfit for the purpose.

More examples to follow!

Friday, July 13, 2007

A tale of two Ombudsmen: Part 2

Why can one Local Government Ombudsman find maladministration in six months whilst another can't find it after six years? Because Local Government Ombudsmen are only interested in resolving problems for the benefit of their friends in Local Authorities.

Most people know that Local Government Ombudsmen use a battery of tactics to block or derail complaints but many don't realise that they also have a tactic to deal with those complaints that they can't divert. That's the tactic used by the Coventry Ombudsman in the case below, find the Local Authority guilty of maladministration but only award a few paltry pounds compensation to the complainant for all the misery and injustice. As far as the Ombudsman is concerned that is an end to the matter, job done, no more problems for their friends in the Local Authority.

However, what if that was not the end of the matter?

That is the reason why the York Office still haven't found maladministration after six years. They know that the award of a paltry few pounds for maladministration wouldn't end the matter it would still leave their friends in the Local Authority with a significant problem. And that's why my complaints are taking so long to resolve, nothing to do with the difficulty in finding maladministration and everything to do with finding a way out of the situation for their friends in the Local Authority.

I have suffered an additional six years of injustice just because the York Ombudsman's office are having difficulty engineering a solution more favourable, and hence more acceptable, to their friends in the Local Authority.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A tale of two Ombudsmen

Coventry: An innocent woman was wrongly given an ASBO by Manchester City Council. The Local Authority in question never validated the allegations or even bothered to put them to the woman before issuing the ASBO. It took the woman three months to get the ASBO overturned and a further three months before the case was withdrawn following an internal review. Local Government Ombudsman, Jerry Wright found Manchester City Council guilty of maladministration, ordered them to pay the woman £2000 and told them to review their procedures. The Ombudsman stated that this was an abuse of power of nightmarish proportions.

York: Cheshire County Council created a plan that was technically and legally impossible to implement. The Local Authority in question never validated their plans before trying to implement them. They also blocked any independent scrutiny of them by failing to obtain the necessary planning permission. They even lied about their need to obtain planning permission. I was also blocked when I tried to bring this to the attention of local councillors. See my posting below. This all happened in 2001 but after six years, not six months as in the case above, the York Ombudsman has still not reached any conclusions.

I say, look at the facts, it was clearly an abuse of power of nightmarish proportions.

Keeping me waiting six years for a determination of my complaint is just more abuse by a different authority.

A further posting will explain why I think the Coventry Ombudsman managed to reach a conclusion after six months but the York Ombudsman still hasn't reached a conclusion after six years.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

LGO: unfit for the purpose?

I submitted the following complaint (along with six others) to the Local Government Ombudsman during March 2002.

[That the Council] breached their own complaints procedures and policy guidelines by blocking access to a panel of Councillors after the Chief Executive of Vale Royal Borough Council failed to satisfactorily respond to our complaint about them triggering of the bond.

During May 2006 after a four year delay the Local Government Ombudsman agreed to comeback on my complaints . To date, after another 14 months my complaints have still not been resolved. However, when you analyse the complaints it's very easy to prove one way or the other within days let alone years.

Question 1: Did the Council's complaints procedure include access to a panel of Councillors.?

Answer: Yes. (This can be proven quite easily by anyone who can read.)

Question 2: Did the Council have a policy of allowing complainants to access a panel of Councillors?

Answer: Yes they did. (Again this can be proven quite easily by anyone who can read.)

Question: Did I ask the Chief Executive Officer for access to a panel of Councillors?

Answer: Yes I did. Again this can be proven quite easily by anyone who can read.

Question 3: Did the Chief Executive Officer allow me access to a panel of Councillors?

Answer: No, they told me to take my complaint elsewhere. (Again this can be proven quite easily by anyone who can read.)

So the Chief Executive Officer breached their own complaints procedure by refusing me access to a panel of Councillors. That's called maladministration. Furthermore I suffered injustice as a result.

So we have a situation in which a child could have proven maladministration within weeks of receiving my complaint, however, after 5 years the Local Government Ombudsman still appears to be having some difficulty.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting my other complaints with an analysis of how they could have proven maladministration within weeks if they had wanted to.

That alone clearly makes the Local Government Ombudsman unfit for the purpose.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The impotent Ombudsman

When you start to investigate the reasons for the constant delays in resolving your complaint you soon realise that the majority of them can be traced back to an impotent Ombudsman.

That's the underlying reason why they give the Council months to answer letters whilst expecting complainants to answer within a few weeks. The critical point is that Councils know the Ombudsman is impotent and aren't afraid to use that weakness to their advantage. Initially, the poor old complainant isn't aware so accepts unnecessary delay as a normal part of the Ombudsman's work.

That's also the underlying reason why Local Government Ombudsmen introduced local settlements. If a Local Government Ombudsman finds maladministration they can only suggest, not enforce, a remedy. The only thing the Local Government Ombudsman can force the Council to do, should they find maladministration, is publish their report in a local newspaper. That would cost the Council no more than £500. That means that if the Local Government Ombudsman can keep the remedy below £500 it is cheaper for the Council to meet the cost of the remedy than the newspaper costs.

So if the Council agree to provide the remedy (on average a lot less than the cost of publishing a report) the Local Government Ombudsman states that there was a 'local settlement' and drops the complaint. That way the Council don't have to meet the cost of publishing the report and use the money to provide the remedy suggested by the Local Government Ombudsman.

That's also the underling reason why they always believe the Council (see earlier posting). Essentially there is not a lot they can do even if they know the Council is lying to them. If they confronted the problem it would just prove they are impotent so it's better for them to live in a world of self denial.