Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Freedom of Information Update

We have received the following responses to our recent Freedom of Information requests.

Request Number 1) Longest undetermined complaint?

1) Which complaint has remained unresolved for the longest period of time?

2) What was the reason for the delay?

3) What was the subject of the complaint?

4) Which Ombudsman/Ombudsmen were involved?

LGO Response: I am afraid the answer to question 1 is not information we hold. We only keep the paper files associated with complaints for 14 months and the computer records for 10 years after the cases are closed. As the Ombudsmen’s service has been in operation since 1974, we no longer hold any records on a good proportion of the complaints ever put to the Ombudsmen. It is therefore impossible to say which complaint has remained unresolved for the longest period of time. As I cannot answer question 1, it follows that I can’t answer question 2-4 either.

Our comment on their response:
If Local Government Ombudsmen didn't close down unresolved cases then they would be able to supply the information requested for the simple reason that the complaint would still be open. Therefore, the answer implies that Local Government Ombudsmen close down unresolved complaints. Why are Local Government Ombudsmen closing down unresolved complaints? No doubt like ours they become an embarrassment that they prefer to sweep under the carpet.



Request number 2) Longest wait for a promised remedy.

1) What was/is the longest period of time a complainant has had to wait for a remedy promised to an Ombudsman by a Council, as a result of a finding of maladministration by the said Ombudsman, to be implemented?

2) What was the reason for the delay?

3) Which Ombudsman/Ombudsmen were/are involved?

LGO response: I am afraid the answer to question 1 is not information we hold. We only keep the paper files associated with complaints for 14 months and the computer records for 10 years after the cases are closed. As the Ombudsmen’s service has been in operation since 1974, we no longer hold any records on a good proportion of the complaints ever put to the Ombudsmen. It is therefore impossible to determine the longest period of time a complainant has had to wait for a remedy. As I cannot answer question 1, it follows that I can’t answer question 2-3 either.

Our comment on their response: This rather proves that Local Government have no interest in whether or not a complainant ever receives the promised remedy. How an earth can they tell if a council was lying to them or not if they don't check? Aren't they the least bit concerned when a council fails to fulfil a promise? Particularly one that was made in response to a finding of maladministration. It would appear that a council can promise a Local Government Ombudsman anything they want to get them off their backs knowing full well that the Ombudsman won't bother to confirms whether or not they have fulfilled their promise. What a scandal!

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