Saturday, February 26, 2011

The inconsistent Local Government Ombudsman

In a recent report a Local Government Ombudsman found a council guilty of maladministration causing injustice even though the injustice affected a significant part of the community.

However, this is also the same reason why Local Government Ombudsmen have turned many complaints away in the past. Even though the number of residents affected were much less than in the case above.

1974 Local Government Act (amended) Part III Section 26.7c A Local Commissioner shall not conduct an investigation in respect of any action which in his opinion affects all or most of the inhabitants of the the area of the authority concerned.

The get out clause is in the Act 'which in his opinion', thus allowing different Local Government Ombudsmen to do whatever they want. That's why there will never be any consistency in the way Local Government Ombudsmen deal with similar complaints.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

UPDATE: No wonder Councils are now laughing at the LGO

Further to my previous post on the subject. 'No wonder Councils are now laughing at the LGO'.

The council in question now claim it does not have the money (the money they defrauded the taxi drivers out off) to pay them back. Read the full story from the source Echo

Whilst this is a silly excuse that no judge would accept the  Local Government Ombudsman cannot force the council to do anything they don't want to do. Essentially  the taxi drivers can only hope that the council, who defrauded them out of the money in the first place, will do the right thing and give them their money back.

Now you know why Councils can afford to laugh at the LGO

To fully understand the corrupt system of administrative justice operating in this country read the Local Government Ombudsman and their  twelve pillars of injustice.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No wonder Councils are now laughing at the LGO

The following case, reported by the Local Government Ombudsman, demonstrates why Councils must now be laughing at them.

"Castle Point Borough Council double charged licensed taxi drivers for Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Anne Seex. In her report, issued today (15 February 2011) she says: “This complaint also raises the issue of injustice to every licensed taxi driver who has paid a CRB fee and a licence fee since 1 January 2004, who is likely to have been overcharged.”

‘Mr Hunter’ (not his real name for legal reasons) is a licensed taxi driver. He complained to the Ombudsman because he thought he had been overcharged for his licence since 2004, in particular that he had been charged twice for the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

In June 2003 the Council decided to charge licensed taxi drivers a separate fee for the CRB check, which had previously been included in the taxi licence fee. In July 2003 the drivers were notified that they would have to pay one fee for their licence and a separate fee for the CRB check.

In December 2003 the Council’s Licensing Committee agreed a percentage increase for licence fares. But the figure on which the percentage increase was based included an amount for the CRB fee which, since July 2003, had been charged separately. And all percentage increases agreed since December 2003 have been based on this baseline figure which wrongly included a CRB fee. This means that since 1 January 2004, when the increase came into account, all licensed drivers who have paid for a CRB check and a licence have been overcharged.

The Ombudsman finds that the Council was at fault for agreeing a fare increase that included an element for a CRB check which the Council had already decided to make a separate charge for. The Council says this was an informed decision to cover the administrative costs of processing the CRB checks; but there is no evidence that this was considered by the Licensing Committee.

The Ombudsman concludes that Mr Hunter, and other taxi drivers who have paid a licence fee since 1 January 2004, have been overcharged.


She
[Mrs Anne Seex] recommends that the Council: 
  • reimburses Mr Hunter with the amount by which he has been overcharged, and 
  • takes measures to remedy the injustice caused to other taxi drivers who have paid a licence fee and CRB fee since 1 January 2004.  
Report ref no 09 012 990"

(The council can't even argue it was an oversight or unintentional because "The Council says this was an informed decision", therefore it's fraud.)
   
So we have a Council who defraud a number of taxi drivers for some 7 years and all they have to do is pay the money back? 

Can you imagine if the courts did the same with other fraudsters, "if you are caught, which won't be very often, all you will have to do is pay the money back"! 

No wonder Councils are now laughing at the LGO. 

  
PS  I have been for years!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Do the LGO meet their Public Value Vision statement?

Their website states The Commission's Public Value Vision is:

"to provide a high quality and efficient service, accessible to all, that remedies injustice for indiviudals (sic) and maximises the value of investigations to make public services better."

Looking at these bold statements individually, there is no independent evidence to support their assertions that they
  • Provide a high quality service. (Their own surveys suggest 73% of users are dissatisfied. Despite the fact they fiddle the results by deviously excluding a large percentage of dissatisfied complaints.)
  • Provide an efficient service. (Their own stats suggests otherwise.)
  • Provide a service that is accessible to all. (See 2 below.)
  • Provide a service that remedies injustice for individuals. (See 1 below.)
  • Have made public services better. (Evidence suggests otherwise.)
    If you exclude the self generated spin, most of the evidence available in the public domain suggests that they don't provide any of the above. Which means, like many other products and services on offer today, it's all just marketing hype propaganda. Here are a couple of examples. Contradictory statements from their own website.

    (1) They can't provide a service which remedies injustice for individuals for the simple reason that they are legally restricted to recommendations only. Recommendations which can be ignored and indeed often are. "When we find that a council has done something wrong, we may recommend how it should put it right. Although we cannot make councils do what we recommend, ....."

    (2) Their service is not accessible to all because they can arbitrarily refuse access to their service to anyone they choose."We do not have to investigate every complaint received, even if we have the power to do so." 
     
    Footnote:LGO pillar of injustice number 11, they are free to engage in propaganda (or as Justice Lightman calls it an evangelical agenda). Something a real system of justice, such as a court or tribunal, can't do.

    Thursday, February 03, 2011

    My most popular posts to date

    Wednesday, February 02, 2011

    The Local Government Ombudsman and their twelve pillars of injustice

    (1They work in private,  
    (2) you can't appeal their findings of fact,
    (3) they don't have to be qualified for the job,
    (4) they can, and indeed do, delegate their job to a junior member of staff no matter how unqualified or incompetent,
    (5) they don't have to show all the evidence to the complainant and they usually don't,
    (6) they can and often do talk to the council without the complainant being aware any discussion took place,
    (7) they settle the complaint with the council. A complainant can't refuse such a settlement,

    (8) they don't have to follow previous decisions/precedents/case law,
    (9) they are free to define maladministration as they see fit,
    (10) they are free to determine the level of injustice you must suffer before investigating your complaint,
    (11) they are free to engage in propaganda (or as Justice Lightman calls it an evangelical agenda),
    (12) they probably don't meet the requirements of the Human Rights Act. Justice Lightman's view.

    Compare the LGO twelve pillars of injustice above to the Courts/Tribunal twelve pillars of justice below. 

    (1) Court proceedings are held in public, 
    (2) either side can appeal a judgement on a finding of fact, 
    (3) the judge is qualified,
    (4) a judge can't delegate their job to a junior member of staff, 
    (5) all evidence is shown to both sides, 
    (6) a judge can't talk to one side without the other side being present, 
    (7) any out of court settlement is agreed between the two parties. The judge plays no part, 
    (8) they have to follow case law or provide a valid reason for not doing so, 
    (9) statutory definitions exist for all legal wrongs, 
    (10) a judge can't stop you taking court action even if the injustice you have suffered is slight, 
    (11) a judge cannot use self promoting publicity (propaganda),   
    (12) all court/tribunal cases have to be human rights compliant. 

    Why do we have such a corrupt system of administrative justice in this country?

    Because our elected representatives prefer it that way. Elected representatives are responsible for public bodies and the last thing they want, should a public body do anything wrong, is for the public bodies they control to be exposed let alone held responsible for their actions. For if that were to happen they may just get booted out come election time.

    The only way to bury the wrongdoings of a public body, or at least minimise the repercussions of any wrongdoings, is to stop people using a proper system of justice in the first place. As a result our elected representatives introduced the Local Government Ombudsman, one of the most unjust systems of administrative justice ever invented. Once our elected representatives introduced a pseudo system of administrative justice all that was left for them to do was to staff it with as many ex public authority people as possible and hey presto.... a system that stuffs the citizen for the benefit of our elected representatives by burying the wrongdoings of the public bodies they control and as such are responsible for.

    Why not ask your MP why we have such a corrupt system of administrative justice in this country. If they argue we haven't, explain the differences above and then ask them to justify such a corrupt and biased system of administrative justice.  If they can't, vote for someone who will do something about the problem when they seek re-election.