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

Do ex members or officers of your council work for the LGO?

The Commission for Local Administration in England (The formal name for the Local Government Ombudsman, LGO) do not see anything wrong with an ex officer or member, of the council you are complaining about, working for the Ombudsman's office you are complaining to.

The only criteria they have is that a minimum of 5 years must have elapsed between starting work for them and being involved in a complaint about the council they used to work for. This is despite the fact that the majority of the people they worked with may still work for the council you are complaining about. In many instance they may still be friends with many of the people they worked with.

This is an affront to Justice, can you imagine the uproar if a Judge was found to have worked for the defendant.

If you are interested in identifying whether an ex member or officer of the council you are complaining about works for the Local Government Ombudsman's office you are complaining to then why not submit a Freedom of Information request in order to put your mind at rest.

Whilst I have asked for information I am interested in you may prefer to identify if anyone who worked for the council you complained about worked for the LGO during the specific period of your complaint.

'I would like to know how many people worked for the Commission for Local Administration in England between [insert dates when your complaint started with the council and  was eventually determined by the Ombudsman] also worked for [insert the name of the council you complained about] prior to taking up employment with the Commission and are based at the [insert the Ombudsman's office who dealt with your complaint]

When you have drafted your request submit it here

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Complaints about Lancaster City Council

I would like anyone who has recently submitted, or is going to submit, a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman about Lancaster City Council to contact me.

The reason being that the Commission for Local Administration (The Local Government Ombudsman) has recently decided to allow an ex employee of Lancaster City Council to determine complaints made against the Council even though a Freedom of Information request proves that 37% of the staff and 43% of the members who the Ombudsman worked with are still working at the council.

Under normal circumstances an ex employee returning in a more senior position wouldn't cause any concern. However we are not talking about a normal working relationship here we are talking about JUSTICE.

JUSTICE is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, or equity.  Can anyone in their right mind consider it morally right, fair or rational that an ex colleague and possibly friend of the person you are complaining about will determine your complaint.

If you live in the Lancaster area and like me you are outraged at the decision of the Commission for Local Administration to allow an ex employee of Lancaster City Council to determine your complaint please  get in touch.

It may take some time but I am determined to expose this stupid decision to the public scrutiny it deserves and your case study may help.

Open Letter to the Chair of the Commision for Local Administration in England: Update 1

Further to my open letter to Tony Redmond Chairman of the Commission for Local Administration in England (The Local Government Ombudsman) I have today been told that I have received a response.

Safe to say that the summary I was given over the phone suggests that the Commission fail to see anything wrong with appointing Anne Seex to determine complaints about Lancaster. A decision I am almost certain they will come to regret at some time in the future.

Full text of Mr Redmond's letter will be uploaded as soon as possible as update 2.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

York Local Government Ombudsman's office incompetence exposed again.

The Case of Mr and Mrs Wain verses Stoke-on-Trent City Council exposes the incompetence of the York Based Local Government Ombudsman once again.

The LGO did not find Stoke-on Trent Council guilty of maladministration because she asserted that the Government Office West Midland was at fault. However, the Parliamentary Ombudsman Investigated the Government Office West Midland and totally refuted the claim put forward by The Local Government Ombudsman.

Unfortunately by the time the Parliamentary  Ombudsman reported back it was too late for Mr & Mrs Wain to seek a Judicial Review of the York Local Government Ombudsman's perverse findings.

One would have thought that when she realised that her office had ruined Mr & Mrs Wain's chances of receiving any compensation for the injustice caused through the maladministration of Stoke-on-Trent City Council she would have wanted to do something about it. Not so, as anyone who knows anything about Local Government Ombudsmen will tell you they never like to admit they are wrong and will do everything in their power to hide their mistakes.

This case has strong parallels to the Balchins which also involved the Local Government Ombudsman and the Parliamentary Ombudsman but unfortunately for the Wains there is no way the Local Government Ombudsman could hide their mistakes in their case as they did with the Balchins because it had been published in a report for all to see. In the Balchins case they hid their mistake by not including it in the report.

Read Mr & Mrs Malcolm Wain's comprehensive case study here and you will understand why I think Local Government Ombudsmen are a complete waste of time and can't wait until they are replaced with a fair and just system of administrative justice..

Thursday, April 01, 2010

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

Letter sent to Mr Redmond on the 1st April 2010

REF: OPEN LETTER, transfer of Lancaster City Council from Coventry to the York office.

Dear Mr Redmond

I wish to make a formal complaint regarding the Commission's decision to allow Anne Seex to determine complaints against Lancaster City Council.

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.

Particularly since 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.

I am a Lancastrian, with many family and friends still living in the Lancaster area. Therefore, I'm very concerned that Anne Seex will be responsible for determining complaints against her ex colleagues and friends. The very people who may be responsible for the maladministration being complained about.

This cannot be fair under any circumstances and I cannot understand how the Commission members could even begin to think this is acceptable.

Until this ludicrous decision is reversed, should anyone in the Lancaster area feel their complaint was potentially compromised, I will make it my business to pursue the matter further.

Your sincerely, Trevor Nunn

Lancaster City Council, the LGO and Anne Seex

On 13 February 2007 the Commission for Local Administration England ('CLAE') (responsible for allocating Local Government Ombudsmen to Council's) made a decision that Jerry White should cease to be the Local Government Ombudsman for Lancaster. It was further decided that Anne Seex should assume this role.

Unfortunately for them the 10 year rule [1 below] would have blocked Anne Seex from determining complaints against Lancaster in 2007 and that is why they had to wait until 2010 to implement their plans to allow Anne Seex to determine complaints against Lancaster City Council.

However, irrespective of the 10 year rule I thought Anne Seex would be in a very difficult position should a member of the public's complaint involve any of her ex friends or colleagues. If there are more than 25% of staff and members still working at Lancaster the odds are that she will be called to determine a complaint involving an ex colleague and this can't be right under any circumstance. In addition Pat Thomas, the Ombudsman she took over from and trained her, also lives and works in the Lancaster area.

Therefore, on March 2nd 2010 I submitted the following Freedom of Information Request in order to identify the exact number of staff and members still working at Lancaster City Council since Anne Seex left.

On the 1st April 2010 Anne Seex the Local Government Ombudsman based in York will take over responsibility for determining complaints against Lancaster City Council. Anne Seex used to work for Lancaster City Council, therefore, I would like to know what percentage of staff and members who were at Lancaster City Council whilst Mrs Seex was employed are still at the council.

On April 1st 2010 I received the following response from Lancaster City Council

With relation to the staff and members who were with the Council at the time of Anne Seex employment and are still with the Council, I can advise you that,
The percentage of staff still employed is 37%.
The percentage of elected members is 43%
So I have an open question for the Commission for Local Administration in England (otherwise known as the Local Government Ombudsman), Lancaster City Council and the residents & taxpayers of Lancaster and the surrounding district, those very people who may have their future complaints against Lancaster City Council, bizarrely including Pat Thomas, the Local Government Ombudsman Anne Seex took over from.

Can it be right, under any circumstances, that Anne Seex, as a Local Government Ombudsman, is given the power to determine complaints against the authority she used to work for, particularly since some 37% of staff and 43% of members still work in the authority concerned. In addition, Pat Thomas, the Local Government Ombudsman she took over from in 2005 lives and works in the Lancaster area.

[1] The origins of the 10 year rule

The position is that LGA 1974 Schedule 4 Section 23 (1)(2) states:

2)     A Local 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”), the Local Commissioner

(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, or

(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 Register of Interests attached to the Code of Conduct asks LCs to declare any bodies of which they’ve been a paid employee within the previous 10 years.

So whilst you are not precluded from making the transfer within 5 years of employment it may be appropriate to delay for 10 years if this is feasible.”

Anne Seex then confirmed in an email to Nigel Karney that she left the employment of Lancaster City Council in April 2000, so the Commission was able to agree the transfer of Lancaster to Anne Seex’ office from April 2010 at its December meeting, as it will then have been 10 years since she was employed there. The authority for this decision is the Commission’s, at the December meeting.

Until April 2010, Lancaster City Council is in the area covered by the Ombudsman based in Coventry, as it has been for a number of years.