Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Local Government Ombudsmen: Bailing out?

Since the summer of 2005 three Local Government Ombudsmen have bailed out, Pat Thomas 2005, Jerry White 2009 and Tony Redmond 2010. In addition Peter MacMahon the Deputy Ombudsman based in London also went in April 2010. Plus of course 10% of the Commission's total staff.

However, what is even more interesting is that Jerry White (LGO Coventry Office) was also Vice Chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England (CLAE) and Tony Redmond (LGO London) is Chair of the CLAE yet both will have bailed out within months of each other. What do they know we and the other LGOs don't?

This means, God help all complainants, that the most experienced Local Government Ombudsman is going to be Anne Seex. For complainants who haven't any experience of Anne Seex, she is the LGO who currently reports the least maladministration yet has the most councils ignoring her recommendations. In addition she probably has the largest number of complainants dissatisfied with her office than any other Ombudsman in the world.

Thomas served 20 years, White 14 and Redmond 9 so it looks like the length of time they can stomach stuffing complainants has been reducing significantly. Particularly from 2003/4 when their antics started to be exposed by LGO Watch and additionally from 2006 by Public Service Ombudsman Watchers.

Records prove that every new Ombudsman has identified less and less maladministration. Anne Seex (2005) reports less maladministration than Redmond (2001) who both reported less maladministration than White (1995). This theory can be put to the test when Jane Martin, the newbie, has served a complete reporting year. If the theory is correct she will report even less maladministration than Anne Seex, which is going to be nigh on impossible task for Jane Martin to do because Anne Seex reports way less than 1% of submitted complaints as maladministration. During a period in 2008 it fell to an all time  record low of 0.1%.

The number of complainants LGOs stuff also appears inversely proportional to the length of time they can stomach doing their job. A theory which can be put to the test when Anne Seex decides to bail out.

My conclusion is that Jerry White and Tony Redmond were smart enough to bail out before the CLAE/LGO crashes and burns leaving the inexperienced Mmes Seex and Martin and Tony Redmond's replacement to take the fall.

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