Thursday, November 12, 2009

Local Government Ombudsmen: Update

With other supporters I have been collecting and disseminating evidence against Local Government Ombudsmen for the last few years. During this period the Local Government Ombudsmen have been forced to make many changes to their working practices in order to deflect criticism.

Here are just a couple of examples:
  • Over the last few years we have been heavily criticising the fact that all three Local Government were ex council Chief Executive Officers. Recently, when Jerry White retired they recruited a replacement who had not been an ex Chief Executive Officer.
  • We also criticised Local Settlements to such an extent that the Government had to introduce a new statutory provision to legalise the Local Government Ombudsman's use of Local Settlements.
There are many more examples of how Local Government Ombudsmen have had to change their working practices over the last few years in order to deflect criticism however that is not the main purpose of this post, what I want to concentrate on the things they haven't yet improved.

The list below is a collection of things I have either experienced or have evidence of regarding the organisation of the Local Government Ombudsman.

They
  • lie to complainants
  • lie to Government Departments.
  • lie to the public.
  • collude with councils.
  • fabricate documents.
  • misinterpret statutes, policies, guides etc in favour of the council.
  • manipulate evidence in favour of the council.
  • use fallacious reasoning/argument to explain their perverse findings.
  • don't allow a complainant to see or challenge much of the evidence.
  • manipulate/fiddle their statistics to hide the truth.
  • manipulate/fiddle customer satisfaction surveys in their favour.
  • are biased in favour of the council.
  • don't understand many of the technical and legal issues surrounding a complaint.
  • ignore legal and human rights.
  • very rarely criticise any council officer for lying or misleading them.
  • allow councils to misuse 1974 LG Act part III, section 32(3) notices.
  • very rarely admit their mistakes. Often doing a 'Balchins' (1) to avoid their mistakes becoming public knowledge.
  • often terminate a complaint after a quick telephone conversation with the council.
  • are unaccountable.
  • are not fit for the purpose.
  • constantly raise the level of injustice a complainant has to suffer before they will investigate a complaint.
  • often use linguistic gymnastics to evade the truth.
  • use delay as a tactical tool to help councils and exhaust other avenues of possible redress.
  • attack the complainant for asking a question rather than answering the question.
  • misuse their own policy and guidelines.
  • ignore natural justice and the law when it suits them.
  • misuse discretion.
  • are toothless tigers.
  • dilute the remedies they recommend after discussion with a council.
  • defy logic.
  • double, and in some cases triple, count complaints to artificially boost complaint numbers.
  • label complainants unreasonable when they challenge their perverse findings.
  • alter deadlines to make it easier for councils to meet them.
  • waste taxpayer's money.
  • didn't meet the criteria for membership of the British and Irish Ombudsman's Association.
  • are ineffective in reducing maladministration.
  • betray the good citizens of this country.
  • are impotent.
  • allow councils to swap Ombudsmen the don't like but don't allow complainants the same freedom.
  • are guilty of mission creep. They are no longer the same organisation as intended when they were introduced.
  • often use argumentum verbosium.
  • ignore inconvenient facts.
  • have developed a system in which maladministration pays.
  • fail to meet complainant expectations.
  • often ignore part of a complaint altogether.
  • break their promises.
  • fail to keep adequate records.
and
  • their investigators get a bonus the quicker they close a complaint down.
  • the majority of their investigators, assistant ombudsmen and deputy ombudsmen are ex council.
(1) When they realised they had made a mistake with the Balchin's case they only reported events back to the year after they had made their mistake in an attempt to stop their mistake becoming public knowledge.

A quote from an investigator working for the Local Government Ombudsman.

‘I have to smile actually that some of the criticisms that Mr Nunn makes, he has obviously researched our procedures, some of the criticisms he makes actually make me smile because they are criticisms that I have made internally myself.’

And a quote from me

'When I despair, I remember that all through history there has been people like our Local Government Ombudsmen, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always.'

I will let an investigator from the York office of the Local Government Ombudsman have the last word.

'Believe me it’s not a stupid system that we run it’s a stupid system that the government has imposed.'

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