Sunday, September 30, 2007

Spin cycle

Simon Davies: Visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and director of the human rights organisation Privacy International.

'Government authorities are destroying our ancient freedoms. It is time for Mr Thomas and the other watchdogs to start growling'.

Note: Mr Thomas is the information and data protection commissioner and Local Government Ombudsmen are commissioners for local administration in England.

I agree that Mr Thomas and Local Government Ombudsmen are toothless tigers but what Simon Davies fails to appreciate is that watchdogs are set up by the government for the government.

The Government has no intention of allowing watchdogs to be effective. That's why government appointed watchdogs are never given any teeth. Watchdogs are just part of the 'spin' cycle of national and local government.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The worst case of maladministration ever?

Is Cheshire County Council guilty of the worse case of maladministration ever?

In 1937 a young girl was wrongly accused by her employers of stealing 2 shillings and 6 pence. [For younger readers that's about 13p in new money. Even when you take inflation into account it's still less than a fiver.] The Police and the County Council were involved. However, even though the money she was accused of stealing was later found by her employers the Council took the girl into care and kept her for over 70 years. No it's not a typo they actually kept her in care for over 70 years. None of her siblings even knew of her existence until recently when the care home wrote to them asking if they were happy with the care they were giving her. Initially they thought the letter was wrongly addressed and nearly threw it away, fortunately they spotted the family name and made further enquiries.

In essence Cheshire County Council has kept this women in care for over 70 years for no valid reason. You just can't make this sort of stuff up!

The Council are reported to be investigating the situation but state they can't find any of the paperwork. [A well worn but convenient excuse that most Councils are often guilty of using.]

No doubt the council will state that lessons have been learned and it couldn't happen now but how do we know? It's obvious they have been a law unto themselves for 70 years and with Ombudsmen like ours no doubt they will continue to be a law unto themselves for another 70 years.

It certainly makes the Balchin's epic 20 year struggle for justice pale into insignificance.

No doubt if she ever receives any compensation the Council will deduct board and lodgings for the last 70 years. Don't forget that this was the Council who tried to separate a 90 year old couple who had been married for 69 years because they wouldn't pay the care home costs for both of them.

I hope the reader understands the irony of the situation. Cheshire County Council unnecessarily keeps a women in care for 70 years whilst refusing a care home place to a couple who had been married for 69 years and both needed care.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

LGO fiddle statistics 2

Further to my last post; a neighbour of mine also submitted a complaint during 1997. An associated problem but a different road. They are still waiting for the remedy to their complaint. The road adjacent to their property has still not been adopted even though the then LGO recommended that it should be.

So that's two complainants still waiting for the remedy to their complaints some nine years after the LGO produced a report finding maladministration causing injustice.

A fact that appears to be missing from the LGO's latest annual report.
How convenient!

LGO fiddle statistics

The Local Government Ombudsmen have just published their latest annual report.

You can download a copy by clicking here.

If you look at page 9 you will find their compliance with recommendation statistics covering the last ten years.

I submitted a complaint in June 1997 which was formally reported as a finding of maladministration causing injustice during the year 1998/9. However, I am still waiting for the recommended remedy. The highway in the vicinity of my property has still not been completed to satisfactory standards and adopted. Therefore, why is my complaint not shown in the column marked Awaiting Remedy?

How many other 'awaiting remedy' complaints are missing from their statistics?

Only a few days left!

There are only a few days left in which to sign the e-government petition. If you want an open, honest and accountable system of administrative justice that properly identifies and reports true levels of local authority maladministration then please click on the link at the top of this page and sign the petition now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Update on chronology

September 19th 2007. Still no provisional report. Still not seen a copy of the Council's defence to my 2002 complaint and still not seen a copy of the cross sectional plan. (That's the one the Council should have produced for planning permission purposes during the spring of 2001. No doubt that's why they couldn't apply for, and thus obtain, the necessary planning permission.)

A link to my previous posting on the chronology of events.

Funny thing is that the developer (the one who finished the site in September 2001) is still maintaining highway verges, open spaces and a play area (even though they are in breach of a section 106 planning agreement), whilst the Council state (but won't guarantee*) that the highway in question is adopted. Conversely, during the same period the Council have maintained part of the roadway that has not been adopted.

* By law a Council Highway Authority has to maintain an adopted road gazetteer. You are legally entitled to read it at no cost but if you want a definitive statement in writing from the council they are allowed by law to charge you a fee. The gazetteer stated that the roadway in question was adopted so I asked them for a definitive statement. They wanted £50 before they would provide me with a definitive statement. I paid the fee and received their response. The response included a clause stating that the statement was not definitive. In essence they had charged me £50 for something the free gazetteer had already told me. I asked them to either provide me with a definitive statement, that the roadway was in fact adopted, or return the fee. They returned my money. Their failure to provide me with the necessary definitive statement proves that the roadway is not actually adopted and the gazetteer entry is false. That is clearly misfeasance.

And that's why the developer is still maintaining the highway in question six years after they left the site! That's also the reason why the developer still owns the play area (and open spaces) six years after they should have been transferred to the Council.

The Council has been turning a blind eye to planning breaches for over six years now. Why? Because they need to hide the truth, and with a system of administrative justice like ours they can.

Mission Creep

An Americanism that describes what happens when, over time, powers are used to ends not stated or even imagined when something is first introduced.

It would appear that the Local Government Ombudsman is now guilty of serious mission creep.

In 1974 the Government never expected the Local Government Ombudsman to use their powers to bury maladministration. In fact the whole reason for introducing Local Government Ombudsmen in the first place was to ensure that local government maladministration was fully investigated, exposed and publicly reported.

However, some 33 years later and what have got? Local Government Ombudsmen doing exactly the opposite of what was originally intended by Government. Local Government Ombudsmen now spend over £11 million pounds of tax payers money burying 18 times as much maladministration as they now report. Mission creep? more like mission abandoned!

Monday, September 10, 2007

The LGO

The Local Government Ombudsman

You may look to us for justice
because of trials you face
but often we don't have the power
we need to solve your case

And then our independance
may be compromised you see
- remember we have staff who are
ex council employees

So even if we take your case
you need to realise
we don't believe that council staff
are capable of lies

And even if your grievance
is proved in every way,
you ought to know we can't enforce
whatever we might say

So if you see the years roll by
at least you're not alone,
some have fought a decade
to prove what they had known

So when you choose the LGO
to fight the case for you
just be ready for the heartache
that we will put you through

(Copyright 2007 Anna Clyne)

Warning! This verse is copyright.
I have obtained permission to reproduce it here.
If you would like permission to reproduce it, please contact:
annaclyne[please ignore black anti spambot@text]psow.co.uk

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Another way to bury complaints?

Vale Royal Borough Council and Cheshire County Council (The Councils I submitted complaints about to the Ombudsman in March 2002) will probably cease to exist very shortly.

The Government is determined to introduce unitary Councils in Cheshire. That means at least one, but possibly both, will soon cease to exist. The Government are supposed to reach a decision in November 2007. However, they have already identified the option they prefer, two new unitary Councils, Chester City & West Cheshire Council and East Cheshire Council will take over from Cheshire County Council and the current borough Councils (including Vale Royal Borough Council).

That means that the Councils I submitted complaints about will no longer exist. Albeit most of the staff that I complained about will take up post in one or other of the two new unitary Councils.

Is this another tactic used by the LGO to protect their friends in Local Authorities? Delay investigating a complaints until the Councils complained about no longer exist.

My original 1997 complaint against Vale Royal Borough Council was derailed because Cheshire County Council took over the problem during 1998. Now a similar thing is happening again. Will Chester City and West Cheshire Council be the third Council I have to complain about and will the Ombudsman delay it long enough for them to be replaced?