Friday, June 27, 2008
It is an independent, impartial and free service.
However, their marketing hype is not a true reflection of the reality of the situation.
All three Local Government Ombudsmen were Council Chief Executive Officers before becoming Local Government Ombudsmen. In fact none of them have ever had a job outside Local Government. In addition, they were all recruited and chosen by the Secretary of State who has responsibility for Local Government. That means they were actually given their job by the very person who would be seriously embarrassed if a Local Government Ombudsman ever allowed the true levels of Local Authority maladministration to become public knowledge.
In addition the LGO service costs the taxpayer over £12 million, so although it's free at source their suggestion that it's a free service is a bit like saying that Local Councils provide a free service because they are paid by the taxpayer. Do you believe that any Local Authority provides a free service?
Therefore, a more accurate statement would be, even though we know it's not true, we want others to believe our spin about being an independent, impartial and free service.
The Local Government Ombudsmen investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies.
However, their marketing hype is not a true reflection of the reality of the situation.
Firstly, they don't investigate complaints unless the complainant has also suffered significant injustice as a result of the act complained about. That means a significant proportion of complaints are rejected by Local Government Ombudsmen on the grounds that the level of injustice suffered by the complainant, has been judged by them, as not being significant enough to warrant investigation.
Secondly, they don't investigate complaints if the maladministration complained about affects a group of people.
Thirdly, they don't normally investigate complaints until they are satisfied that you have allowed the council (or other body) the opportunity to address your complaint.
Fourthly, they collude with the councils and other bodies under investigation to settle a significant proportion of complaints, often against the wishes of a complainant, before carrying out a full and proper investigation.
So in reality Local Government Ombudsmen investigate very few complaints about councils and certain other bodies. Last year over 18,000 submitted a complaint to Local Government Ombudsmen, they fully investigated less than 1%.
Therefore, a more accurate statement of what they actually do would be The Local Government Ombudsmen investigate fewer than 1% of complaints about councils and certain other bodies.
And that's why maladministration is now spiraling out of control and why Local Government Ombudsmen have so many dissatisfied complainants.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
However, the tactic failed to improve the abysmal levels of customer satisfaction levels recorded in their 1995 and 1999 surveys. My question is, just how much worse would they have been if the Local Government Ombudsman had not skewed them in their favour?
Therefore, for all those excluded from their 2007 survey I now give you a chance to rate Local Government Ombudsmen. Unlike the LGO I exclude no-one from my poll, not even them or their staff. Visit my blog and vote now.
I shouldn't grumble because at least I was promised my complaint would receive some priority. I just pity the people who aren't receiving such preferential treatment as myself, for goodness knows how long they would be expected to wait.
When will I receive a final determination from the Local Government Ombudsman regarding my 2002 complaint? Who knows?
When will I receive the imminent letter from the Council the Local Government Ombudsman told me to expect 3 months ago? Who knows?
It would appear that Local Government Ombudsmen have have their own definition for words such as priority and imminent and unfortunately I only have access to an English dictionary. Therefore, 'Ombudspeak' remains a mystery to me, as does Klingon.
Here's a few of the more recent examples.
Local Authorities were given the power to enforce some traffic offences, now most of them are involved in running illegal but very profitable schemes of one sort or another. For more information visit Neil Herron's blog.
As soon as Local Authorities were given surveillance powers, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), many set about abusing them. More information here.
The Government gave Local Authorities powers under the Town and Country planning act, more particularly section 106 but some councils, such as Purbeck (Dorset), have decided to abuse those powers. Why, because maladministration pays. In Dorset's case £1,000 every time someone sought planning permission for an extension. I think they netted about £90,000 before being caught out.
So whether it's planning, care homes, highways, social work or rubbish collection many Local Authorities now prefer to abuse their powers rather than do the job they are empowered and paid to do. Why? For the simple reason maladministration not only pays it pays handsomely.
Take Trafford as an example, they recently saved £100,000 through an act of maladministration and the Local Government Ombudsman can do nothing about it.
As a result we now have Local Authorities running dodgy parking schemes, dodgy planning departments, dodgy surveillance schemes, dodgy highway departments and the list goes on. Where there's a will, a Local Authority will find a way of abusing their powers to save money or profit from maladministration.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Ombudsman watchers knew it would happen, it was just a matter of when. If you allow Local Authorities to make/save money through maladministration and other nefarious activities then they will do it. It's not rocket science.
On the very rare occasion that a Local Government Ombudsman ever finds a Local Authority guilty of maladministration and publishes a report, all the Local Authority is expected to do is put the person back in the position they would have been before the maladministration took place. However, Local Government Ombudsmen derail/bury most of the maladministration committed by a Local Authority so the chance of a Local Authority ever having to offer an appropriate level of restitution is very small indeed (less than 1% of all complaints submitted to them). In addition, should the Local Authority consider the recommended level of compensation is too high they just ignore the Ombudsman altogether (Trafford Council is a typical example).
The bottom line is that it's very profitable (economically worthwhile) for a Local Authority such as Trafford, Tynedale and Cheshire County Council to maladminister their way out of their problems rather than doing their job properly in the first place. On one hand they can save hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds, whilst on the other hand should they be one of the very few Local Authorities to be found guilty of maladministration by the Local Government Ombudsman they can still refuse to pay the recommended compensation.
A win win situation the Local Authority and a lose lose situation for the complainant. Whilst unaccountable Local Government Ombudsmen lord it over such a system, maladministration will continue to spiral out of control.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
...'The Local Government Ombudsman has had no real impact on preventing maladministration. He is only able to provide snap shot reports of where it does occur. This is a bit like taking samples of the Atlantic with a teaspoon and reporting the results. If on the other hand council’s could be sued for negligence for breaches of their public duties then we might be able to move towards a future where local authorities were more than the systems or organised irresponsibility which LB Hounslow has shown itself to be in this case.'....
Click on his name to visit his blog
Friday, June 20, 2008
Based on an original quote by Mahatma Gandhi.
It appears that Local Government Ombudsmen will stop at nothing to bury maladministration for their friends and ex colleagues in local government. Even if they make themselves look stupid in the process.
Yes I know it's difficult to believe but the Ombudsman's office is actually arguing that if I hadn't stopped the County Council infringing my legal and human rights, in other words if I had let the County Council stuff me in 2001, there would have been no delay.
A bit like blaming the victim of rape for prolonging the attack because they tried to stop the rapist having their evil way with them.
Yet another example of the perverse reasoning of Local Government Ombudsmen.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Definition of imminently: Threatening to occur immediately.
After a few weeks I informed the Ombudsman that the council had not written (i.e.broken their promise to the Ombudsman. Not the first time the council had done this).
I then received the following bizarre response. The Ombudsman's office informed me that when they stated that the council were going to write to me imminently, they didn't mean imminently, they meant imminently after the Ombudsman had written the final report. So when are you going to write the the final report I asked. The Ombudsman may not write a final report was the answer.
Leaving aside the fact that after writing a Provisional Report in November 2007 and a Draft Report in March 2008 it appears rather strange that they don't now write a Final Report. We are now in a catch 22 situation of the Ombudsman's own making. The council are not going to write to me until after the Ombudsman writes a final report which the Ombudsman is now suggesting they may not write.
So using perverse reasoning they have been able to redefine the word 'imminently' to mean the exact opposite.
Why the perverse reasoning?
Because it gets the council off the hook for breaking their promise and not writing. The real questions are why do Local Government Ombudsmen bend over backwards to get councils out of their self created difficulties? What hold do councils have over Ombudsmen? Why would an Ombudsmen be willing to make themselves look stupid in order to protect a council? Please refer to the 'you won't believe it' post below for another example. More to come.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Background: During 2001 the County Council attempted to complete a roadway in such a way it would have an impact on my property. This resulted in my second complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman in March 2002 .
In response to my 2002 complaint, about the councils actions in 2001, An Assistant Ombudsman essentially said, as an excuse for not investigating my complaint, until the council do something that you consider is maladministration and you submit a complaint the Ombudsman will not get involved.
Yes, he actually argued that until the council did what they had already done and I did what I had already done the Ombudsman would not investigate my complaint. And they didn't, well not until 2006 following a number of comeback requests.
This is so bizarre it's off the scale. However. it gets worse, the individual concerned has since been promoted to Deputy Ombudsman.
In addition, the Ombudsman, although accepting that the Assistant Ombudsman was wrong by not taking into account the fact that the County Council had already done what I was complaining about, still ended up stating that the Assistant Ombudsman's decision, not to investigate my complaints during 2002 was correct.
However by the surreptitious use of Ombudsman logic, they overturned the Assistant Ombudsman's decision (which they maintained was correct) and agreed to investigate my complaint. The lengths they will go to in order to give the impression they are always right and don't make mistakes never ceases to amaze me.
A typical example of the perverse reasoning and decisions of Local Government Ombudsmen.
When you eventually get to the LGO your problems are far from over, in fact they are really only just beginning. The LGO has been involved in my case for over 11 years and still hasn't resolved the problem. Initially they tried to block my second complaint but for the last few years they have concentrated on trying to de-construct it instead.
Even though the Borough Council promised the then LGO that the County Council would complete the roadway (without it having any impact on my property) in 1998, the LGO still did nothing when in 2001 the County Council attempted to complete the roadway in such a way it would impact on my property.
Essentially they attempted to maladminister their way out of the problem that the Borough Council had previously maladministered their way into. During 2001 the County Council's actions ensured that the roadway cannot be completed without it impacting on my property.
The County Council have admitted they only did it to save money. As with Trafford Council they think public authorities should be excused from the consequences of their acts of maladministration. They suggest that local taxpayers would have to pick up the bill. However, that's not the full story, what they are really frightened of is local taxpayers realising that their council employ a load of incompetents and start to lobby their councillors to sack the idiots concerned.
So just what has the Ombudsman done over the last few years. For me, up to now, not a lot but for some reason they have spent a lot of time and effort trying to get the County Council out of their self created difficulties.
There is also an ironic twist in the tail. For the last few years the County Council, with the help of the LGO, has been seeking a zero (or very low) cost solution to their problems. The irony is that if they had just admitted to me during 2001 that they couldn't finish the roadway without it impacting on my land I could have offered them a zero cost solution. Unfortunately, they didn't, they decided to con me instead and tried to persuade me that they had the power to do the impossible. A power the LGO still maintains the County Council have. Funny how they keep saying that they can do the impossible but never actually get around to doing it.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Make the local government ombudsman truly independent and accountable by banning ex-council officials or anyone who has any contact with local government officials from making decisions about complaints, provide an independent of the LGO appeals process and make the LGO accountable to a government department and parliament.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
(1) what assessment she has made of any regulatory limitations on the powers of the Office of the Local Government Ombudsman to fulfil its functions;
(2) whether she has considered the merits of developing the (a) role and (b) powers of the office of the Local Government Ombudsman.These question were answered by Parmjit Dhanda (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government). Click here to read his answers to these questions.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the contribution made by the Local Government Ombudsman to (a) good practice, (b) increasing professional standards, (c) probity, (d) improving quality decision taking and (e) striving for improvement in local government.
This question was also answered by Parmjit Dhanda (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government). Click here to read his answer to this question.
Please take the time to read my response to Parmjit Dhanda's answers and consider leaving a response of your own.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Many more petitions are planned and we hope to keep a Local Government Ombudsman petition, of one kind or another, on the petition website at all times.
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to to set up an Appeal Tribunal that can review the decisions of Public Service Ombudsmen (including Local Government Ombudsmen)
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Tony, tell that to the investigator who investigated my complaint. Even when I pointed out (did their job) the council's human rights transgressions they still ignored them. And to my knowledge, up to today at least, so has the Ombudsman. Which is surprising when you realise that the council infringed my human rights 7 years ago and I am still waiting for the Ombudsman to do something about it.
Tony, when a Council tries to construct a highway in such a way that it interferes with the peaceful enjoyment of your property it's clearly an infringement of your human rights under article one of the first protocol. It's not rocket science that takes 7 years to understand!
'Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.'
So Tony, do you still stand by your statement, 'If it is apparent that human rights are in any way engaged as part of the complaint the investigation will seek to address any breach.' or is it, as usual, just a load of LGO baloney?
Here's an example of what I mean,
Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Report of the Strategic Director Regeneration and the Strategic Director Corporate Services to the meeting of st the Regulatory and Appeals Committee to be held on 1 August 2007. This report was about a Local Government Ombudsman investigation. (Mrs Seex, York office)
In the report the Council reiterated what everyone should know, especially an Ombudsman!
7.4 Human Rights Act
The Council must take account of the rights of property holders to enjoy or make beneficial use of their property, balance against any overriding need to restrict such rights in the overall public interest.
In my case, however, Cheshire County Council did not take account of my rights to enjoy or make beneficial use of my property . Neither did they have an argument to restrict my rights in the overall public interest . In my case it was all about 'doublemal', a public authority trying to maladminister their way out of a problem that a public authority had previously maladministered their way into.
 When they decided not to move the planned highway knowing that it was in the wrong position and if completed it would have a serious impact on my property.
 If Cheshire County Council had a public interest case they would be able to compulsory purchase the necessary land to complete the road. It's all about saving the cost of remedying an earlier act of maladministration. Trafford, Tynedale, Basildon are three other examples of councils refusing to suffer the consequences of their own incompetence and maladministration, there are many more.
 Doublemal: A public authority maladministering their way out of a problem that they, or another public authority, had previously been found guilty of maladministering their way into.
Yet, 6 years after I complained about Cheshire County Council attempting to maladminister (doublemal) their way out of a problem that Vale Royal Borough Council maladministered their way into between 1991 and 1997 we are still in the position of having an Ombudsman trying to find a way out of the problem for the Council rather than admit they are guilty of doublemal and doing something about it.
So as far as I am concerned I been suffering from triplemal ever since I submitted my second complaint (about doublemal) to the Ombudsman in 2002.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
'Doublemal', a word coined by me for a book about Local Government Ombudsmen to define the power of holding the belief that it's acceptable for a public authority to maladminister their way out of a problem that they had previously been found guilty of maladministering their way into.
Cheshire County Council and Trafford Council (both Tory controlled) are two examples of councils in which an impotent Ombudsman (ironically the same one) has been forced to accept 'doublemal' because the councils simply refuse to provide the recommended remedy.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Delay! I was told by an investigator that the Ombudsman's provisional report (into my 2002 complaint) was nearly ready in February 2007 yet it took them a further 9 months to send me a copy (received November 2007).
Even more delay! Although I responded to that report within 2 days I am still waiting for the Ombudsman's final determination (or report) into my 2002 complaint.
February 2007 to June 2008, A total of 16 months delay, yet the Ombudsman does not accept that they are responsible for any delay. Question for the Ombudsman, then just who is responsible for the delay?