Sunday, July 26, 2009

Head in the sand or deliberately ignoring the evidence?

An extract from the minutes of the meeting of the Commission held at Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1P 4QP in the Board Room, 15th floor on Tuesday 29 January 2008 at 11.30am.

Mick King updated the Commission on his and Anne Seex’s researches into possible reasons for the increasing downwards trend in complaints received by the York office (18.7% fewer in the month of December; 10.5% fewer in the past 12 months). Their researches suggested the following contributory factors:
  • The transfers out of authorities -Trafford and Tower Hamlets.
  • A steady overall decline in categories of complaint, in contrast to rises in some of the categories in London and Coventry eg complaints about parking and council tax.
  • Analysis of the number of complaints received by authority revealed that, of the 10 authorities with the biggest decline in LGO complaints, eight had been the focus of LGO activities such as training and specific YMT initiatives. Mick King did however stress that it was too soon to be certain about this factor and that further research would be needed. He had, however, raised this with Theresa Kimble (York Communications project officer) who had noted a similar trend in other local authorities where training had taken place.

Anne Seex added that a further factor was the continuing transfer of council housing stock to registered social landlords by a number of northern authorities; this could help to explain the decline in the number of housing complaints received by York (which had increased in London and Coventry).

The report was noted by the Commission.

How typical of Local Government Ombudsmen, ignoring evidence that's right under their noses. What is the main reason why any organisation loses customers? Because the organisation in question provides a poor quality service or product, common sense to most people but obviously rocket science to the LGO.

The bottom line is that the service they offer stinks. Their staff, often

• lie to complainants
• accept the word of council staff (even when overwhelming evidence to the contrary is available)
• interpret evidence, the law, codes and guidelines in favour of the council
• assist councils by fabricating documents
• use fallacious reasoning to support the councils position
• disregard evidence and in some cases whole complaints

And the list goes on and on.

Over the years the government has continually expanded their remit to increase the number of people submitting complaints but even that can't mask the fact that their customers are deserting them in droves for one simple reason. They do not offer the impartial service they advertise. The system of administrative justice in England stinks and will continue to stink until the LGO are replaced by an open and honest tribunal system that is not controlled and manned by ex council staff.

Footnote: Ironically one of the reasons they gave for complaint numbers being on a downward trend is because Trafford Council was transferred from the York office to the Coventry office. However, Trafford like most of their other customers has simply had enough of the discredited York office and requested a change of Ombudsman. Just a pity complainants can't do the same!

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