Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Call for further evidence: Cost of investigating your complaint.

My FOI request

I would like to know on what date,

1) the Commission for Local Administration in England started to factor in the likely cost of an investigation into their decision whether to investigate a complaint or not?

2) you made the department of Communities and Local Government aware that you were no longer deciding to investigate complaints based on merit alone?

3) you made complainants aware that the decision to investigate their complaint would no longer be made on merit alone?

LGO response

The answers to the questions you pose in your email of 11 September, are:
1. The Commission does not do this, so there is no date.
2. Never (see above).
3. Never (see above).

Extracts from two letters sent by the York office to two complainants

Mr Hobbs, Assistant Ombudsman, York LGO office:
'Of course the Ombudsman [Mrs Seex] does not condone any council or its officers flouting policies or the law but what she does do is consider whether it is in the public interest and whether it is a good use of scarce public resources to pursue complaints about council officer conduct as opposed to complaints about more substantive maladministration causing injustice.' [My annotation] [My Bolding]

Mrs Seex, Ombudsman (Commissioner for Local Administration in England) , York LGO office:
'I cannot always justify the public expense of becoming involved in every complaint that has been made to me.' [My Bolding]

My call for further evidence

If you have a letter from a Local Government Ombudsman's (Commissioner for Local Administration in England) office which includes evidence that they took costs into account before deciding whether to investigate your complaint please send me details.

Monday, November 16, 2009

LGO caught out lying again (Update)

Further to my initial and second post on the subject, I have now secured additional evidence to prove that either an Ombudsman has been lying to the Commission for Local Administration (CLAE) for the last few months or the CLAE were lying to me in their response to the Freedom of Information request that I submitted on the 11th September 2009. Reproduced below.

I would like to know on what date,

1) the Commission for Local Administration in England started to factor in the likely cost of an investigation into their decision whether to investigate a complaint or not?

2) you made the department of Communities and Local Government aware that you were no longer deciding to investigate complaints based on merit alone?

3) you made complainants aware that the decision to investigate their complaint would no longer be made on merit alone?

This is the response I received from the Commission for Local Administratiopn on the 5th October 2009

The answers to the questions you pose in your email of 11 September, are:
1. The Commission does not do this, so there is no date.
2. Never (see above).
3. Never (see above).

My response to this is, well one of your Commissioners did, see my earlier post and I now have additional evidence to prove they still do. So who is telling the truth an who is lying?

Let's see if I can find out who...

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.'

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Section 32(3) notices (Update 1)

Further to my earlier post regarding Section 32(3) notices I have the following update.

On the 29th September 2009 I submitted the following Freedom of Information request using the What Do They Know website.

Over the last five years how many times has the Secretary of State lifted a (Local Government Act 174 part III) Section 32(3) notice for each Local Government Ombudsman and which councils issued them?

After a delay which forced me to submit a request for an internal review I received the following response.

We are not aware of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government using his powers under Section 32(3) of Part 3 of the Local Government Act 1974 on any occasion over the last five years.

That means that over the last five years the Local Government Ombudsman can't have asked the Secretary of State to lift a Section 32(3) notice served on them by a Council. Even though some are known to have been wrongly served.

The evidence proving that Local Government Ombudsmen are biased in favour of councils is now overwhelming and can no longer be ignored.

Further update