Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Backfire

Five methods Councils and Ombudsmen use for inhibiting outrage over injustice.

1. Cover up the action
2. Devalue the target
3. Reinterpret what happened
4. Use formal procedures to give the appearance of justice
5. Intimidate or bribe people involved.

Five methods we can use to overcome the tactics above and make the injustice BACKFIRE on them.


1. Expose the action
2. Validate the target
3. Emphasise interpretation of the action as an injustice
4. Mobilise public concern (and avoid formal procedures)
5. Resist and expose intimidation and bribery.

http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/bf/bfbasics.pdf

Monday, February 25, 2008

The overlap of wrongful acts

KEY
Green circle Mal = an act of maladministration, a wrongful act by a public authority - examples, not taking your legal and/or human rights into account, delay, administrative errors etc.

Blue circle Crim = a criminal act, a criminal act by anybody (includes a public authority) - examples, intimidation, harassment, theft etc. (Note, when carried out a public Authority - human rights infringements are included)

Red circle Civ = a civil wrong, a civil wrong by anybody (including a public authority) - examples, trespass, negligence, nuisance, interference with your right of way. (Note, when carried out a public Authority - human rights infringements also included.)

Whilst Local Government Ombudsmen may be able to manipulate the definition of maladministration (the solid green bit) to reduce the number of complaints they have to identify as acts of maladministration fortunately they cannot tinker those that are also illegal (the overlap bits in white/black).

Example: If the council interfere with your right of way they are guilty of a legal wrong , infringing your human rights and maladministration all at the same time.

Please refer to my previous post.

If it's illegal it's maladministration

Mary Seneviratne 'Public Services and Administrative Justice' (2002 Butterworth) : Whilst accepting that ombudsmen have some flexibility in deciding what may or may not be maladministration she also states that ' where actions are clearly contrary to the law this is maladministration'.

Therefore, not only are the Cheshire County Councils actions illegal, because they breach my legal and human rights, they are also by definition acts of maladministration.

If the Ombudsman doesn't understand this simple concept then I am sure a judge will.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Council visit my blog

Welcome to Cheshire County Council. Visitor number 8,470.


For without Cheshire County Council there would have been no blog.

Is it a coincidence that they visit my blog at this time?
Read my previous post and make up your own mind!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

At last

Looks like the wheels in the Ombudsman's office started to turn yesterday regarding my request for their final report. (How I know can't yet be published save to say there are wheels within wheels.)

I submitted my response to their provisional report on the 5th December 2007 and have been waiting patiently ever since for their final report. Let's hope the wheels keep on turning and I receive the final report before we start the 12th year of the Ombudsman's involvement in my case.

In future I think I will use any and all legal remedies at my disposal rather than trying to get the Local Government Ombudsman to do a job they clearly don't want to do or even (up to now at least) appear capable of doing.

No wonder their customer satisfaction levels are so low.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Expectations: What expectations?

The recently published LGO (Local Government Ombudsman) 'Customer Satisfaction Survey' proves that there has been no improvement in the levels of customer satisfaction with the LGO since the last comparable survey of 1999.

The excuse the LGO use, no doubt in an attempt to cover their embarrassment, is that customer expectations have increased over the last 9 years.

However, that argument is fallacious because over the same period many other public authorities have significantly increased the levels of customer satisfaction. In addition the levels of customer satisfaction with the Parliamentary Ombudsman is nearly three times that of the LGO . And finally most customers of the LGO lower rather than increase their expectations after they have submitted their complaint and experienced the LGO at first hand. Prior to 1997 I had high expectations of the LGO but after 11 years I now have little or no expectation of them.

Therefore, whilst customer expectations for other public authorities may have increased since 1999 the same can't be said of the LGO.

The only expectations customers of the LGO have is the expectation of having their complaint wrongly decided or buried altogether.

Trevor R Nunn,
A customer of the Local Government Ombudsman between 1997 and 2008.

If you think I am wrong to have such low expectations of the Local Government Ombudsmen then read my posts below and see how badly the LGO has handled my complaints over the last 11 years.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

LGO customer satisfaction survey

The Local Government Ombudsmen have just published their 2007 customer satisfaction survey.

If you work for the Local Government Ombudsman's office read it and weep.
If you are a complainant read it with a knowing insight.
If you are an MP read it and do something about it.
If you are a reporter read it and let the public know what we have to put up with.
If you are a member of the public read it and support us.

Together we can make a difference.

Start by adding your name to the petition

Yet more delay!

I expected the final report into my 2002 complaint to arrive mid January 2008, After all I have had the provisional report since mid November 2007 and responded to it on the 5th December 2007. Regrettably the Ombudsman has just informed me that she has to give priority to other work and will deal with the substantive issues of my complaint as soon as she is able(I wonder why she didn't deal with them in her provisional report). As a result, I may be able to set the record for the longest time between a provisional and final report. About 13 weeks and counting up to now!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Human Rights

The British and Irish Ombudsman's Association held a biennial conference at the University of Warwick on 27 April 2007. Ms Emily O'Reilly, Ombudsman for Ireland at the Biennial Conference, gave a presentation called "Human Rights and the Ombudsman" . during this presentation she stated:

....Returning to the theme of being proactive and to put it in more practical terms, I am arguing for the human rights-proofing of the usual risk assessment procedures employed by public bodies within my remit. I admit that this may not be as simple as it sounds – given the conflicting imperatives that drive all risk assessment procedures – but, at the very least, a public body cannot hope to defend itself against a claim, formulated in terms of a human rights violation, if that body has not even considered human rights implications in the course of risk assessment. [My emphasis]

This is good news for those complainants who can formulate their complaint to include a human rights violation. If the council has not considered the human rights implications when they acted in a way which you allege is maladministration leading to injustice, then their failure to do so is in itself an act of maladministration.

http://www.lgo.org.uk/news/info.php?refnum=184&startnum=

Read word doc associated with the report.

34. It is for the courts to consider whether there has been a breach of the Human Rights Act and if so to make binding declarations and decisions. I have considered whether Human Rights Act issues were engaged in this case and whether they were properly taken into account. I have concluded that Article 8 was engaged and that the Council neglected to give this issue proper and timely consideration. This failure was so significant as to amount to maladministration and contributed to the injustice suffered. [My emphasis]


In addition the Irish Ombudsman goes on to say,

We need to recognise that Governments are far more sensitive to findings of human rights abuses than they are to findings of maladministration. [My emphasis]

That's is clearly the motivation for the Local Government Ombudsman changing tack recently. They, and their friends in local government, prefer to keep the problem in house and categorised as simple maladministration rather than letting a court later determine it as a human rights violation. That would
significantly embarrass the Local Government Ombudsman in question and be very costly for the Local Authority concerned.

All we need is a case in which the Local Government Ombudsman has made a finding of no maladministration but later a court finds Human Rights violations and awards substantial damages.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The proof is in the cross sectional plan!

I received some plans recently, including a cross sectional plan, for some planned works about a hundred yards from my property. The developer thought it prudent, as part of neighbour notification, to send me the documents in advance of any construction work being carried out in case I had any objections.

Contrast that with a County Council that didn't during 2001 , and still won't in 2008, let me see the cross sectional plans for works (adjacent to my boundary) that have a serious impact on my property. [The planned works also interfere with my human as well as my property rights.]

So I had a meeting with a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors yesterday and he supported my earlier assertions that even a layman, without any technical knowledge whatsoever, would have no difficulty in understanding the necessity for me to see the cross sectional plans for any work being carried out in the vicinity of my property prior to work commencing let alone 7 years after work started.

As a result he was astounded when I told him that an Ombudsman was having difficulty understanding such a simple concept.

So, is it a case of the Ombudsman not able to, or not wanting to, understand such a simple concept?

Adapting the old saying 'You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink'

'You can lead an Ombudsman to the evidence but you can't make them take it into account'.

However, their failure to do so does at least allows their decision to be judicially reviewed.

Case Law:

Greater London Council (1985)
Lord Justice Muskil:
Failure properly to marshal the evidence on which the decision should be based. For example ...... failing to take into account a material factor or failing to take reasonable steps to obtain the relevant information.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science v Tameside M B C (1977) Lord Diplock. "the question for the Court is did the Secretary of State ask himself the right question and take reasonable steps to acquaint himself with the relevant information to enable him to answer it correctly?"

R v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Venables (1998) Lord Justice Hobhouse ; Essential that (the Secretary of State) should be fully informed of all material facts and circumstances", "it is not clear what account the Secretary of State took of this consideration nor that he took any steps to inform himself of the relevant facts",

R v Parliamentary Commisioner for Administration, ex parte Balchin (1998) "..... a consideration has been omitted which, had account been taken of it, might have caused the decision maker to reach a different conclusion"

R v Director General of Telecommunications, ex parte Cellcom Ltd (1999) Justice Lightman "The Court may interfere if the Director has ....... failed to take into account a relevant consideration."

R (on the application of Alconbury Developments Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Environment and the Regions (2001) Lord Slynn "It has long been established that if the Secretary of State ............ fails to take into account matters relevant to his decision .......... The Court may set his decision aside".

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Update on the chronolgy of delay.

During August 2007 I made a post called the chronology of delay. This posts updates that chronology.

Chronology to August 2007 in blue. August 2007 to date in black.


June 1997 Borough Council threaten to complete a roadway that would impact on my property.
June 1997 Submitted my first complaint to Local Government Ombudsman.
October 1998 Ombudsman produced a report and asked the council to provide a remedy. Council promise the Ombudsman that the roadway will be redesigned so it does not impact on my property.
June 2001 County Council, without the necessary planning permission, attempt to redesign and complete the roadway. Their plans prove the roadway would still impact on my property.
March 13th 2002 Submitted a second complaint to Local Government Ombudsman.
March 20th 2002 Local Government Ombudsman end their involvement (supposed to be monitoring the Councils actions) with my first complaint.
April 2002 Local Government Ombudsman refuses to investigate my second complaint.
May 2006 After an epic 4 year struggle the Local Government Ombudsman agree to 'comeback' on my 2001 complaint. Informed by Ombudsman that due to the delay my case will now receive some priority.
February 2007 Informed by Ombudsman that the provisional report was nearly ready.
August 27th 2007 Still waiting for the Council to provide a remedy for my first complaint. No provisional report into my second complaint. At this time I have still not even seen the Councils defence of my second complaint.
November 2007 Provisional report arrives at last. 9 months after it was first promised.
December 5th 2007 I submit my response to the provisional report.
February 2nd 2008 Nearly six years since submitting my second complaint and I am still waiting for the final report,
still waiting for the Council to provide a remedy for my first (1997) complaint, still waiting to see the Councils defence to my 2002 complaint and still waiting to see the expert evidence relied on by the Ombudsman.

So I have ended up with an
epic 11 year delay waiting for an Ombudsman to stop a council completing a road that would clearly impact on on my property and infringe my legal & human rights. A complaint that a five year old child would have no difficulty in understanding and resolving in weeks.

So why can't a Local Government Ombudsman?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Read between the lines.

The reality of the Local Government Ombudsman is not in what they say to you but what they don't say to you. Therefore, if you want to understand Local Government Ombudsmen, listen not to what they say but rather to what they don't say.