Thursday, April 29, 2010

Open Letter to the Chair of the Commision for Local Administration in England: Update

Further to my earlier posts [1] [2] [3] [4] about a Local Government Ombudsman who previously worked for the council you may be complaining about.

This is a copy of the letter I received in response to my complaint.

20th April 2010 Our ref: York/TR/dfg
Dear Mr Nunn
Thank you for your letter dated the 1st April received in this office on the 7th April 2010.
With regard to your enquiry about Anne Seex determining complaints against Lancaster I would draw your attention to the following extract from the Local Government At (SIC) 1974 Schedule 4 (1)(2) which states:
2)  A Commissioner shall not at any time conduct a case arising in an area if it is wholly or partly within an area for which one of those authorities is responsible and, within the five years ending at that time ("the disqualification period")
a) Has been a member of that authority,
b) Has taken action on behalf of that authority in the exercise of any of their functions,
c) Has taken action which, by virtue of an enactment, is treated as having been taken by that authority in the exercise of any of their functions.
However, the Commissioner's Register of interests attached to the Code of Conduct asks Local Commissioners to declare any bodies of which they have been a paid employee within 10 years.
Given that the ten year period is twice that contained in the LGA 1947 the Commission considers that the transfer was reasonable.
Your sincerely
Tony Redmond
Having read Mr Redmond's response with interest I have the following comments to make.

Firstly, I did not write, as Mr Redmond wrongly suggests, to enquire about Anne Seex determining complaints against Lancaster. I clearly submitted a formal complaint about the issue 'I wish to make a formal complaint regarding the Commission's decision to allow Anne Seex to determine complaints against Lancaster City Council.' Read my complaint here.
Secondly, I made it quite clear I knew about the ten year rule 'I understand the 10 year rule no longer applies but can't understand how anyone, under any circumstance, would find it acceptable that Anne Seex, as a Local Government Ombudsman, is given the authority to determine complaints against Lancaster City Council.' Read my complaint here.

Therefore, if you extract all the unnecessary padding and nonsense from his response you end up with Dear Mr Nunn The Commission considered the transfer was reasonable. Yours Sincerely Tony Redmond

Taking into consideration that Mr Redmond is the longest serving Local Government Ombudsman and Chair or the Commission for Local Administration in England (CLAE), the formal name for the Local Government Ombudsman, his response raises a number of very serious concerns. He is clearly prepared to dismiss an internal complaint as an enquiry even when you start your letter I want to make a formal complaint. He is also clearly prepared to include irrelevant information and padding to hide the fact that he has ignored your complaint and the rationale behind it.

(The rationale behind my complaint was) ..some 37% of staff and 43% of members who worked with Anne Seex still work in the authority concerned. In addition, Pat Thomas, the Local Government Ombudsman she took over from in 2005, still lives and works in the Lancaster area. This cannot be fair under any circumstances and I cannot understand how the Commission members could even begin to think this is acceptable.

So we now have evidence that the most senior Local Government Ombudsman / Chair of the CLAE is quite wiling to ignoring an internal complaint and the substance of it. Essentially just like Local Government Ombudsmen often do when faced with a complaint about themselves or a council which they would prefer to bury.

What many people may not be aware of is that Local Government Ombudsmen delegate their function to others who may have recently worked at the council you are complaining about. Read more about this issue

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