"Communities secretary Eric Pickles has chosen not to replace one of the three ombudsman and will instead appoint a chief officer who will take care of the day to day running of the organisation.
The government’s ‘open public services’ white paper outlined a role for the ombudsmen as providing services that support citizens’ needs with a particular emphasis on consumer champions.
Sir Tony Redmond, one of the three members of the Commission for Local Administration in England, retired in 2010. The two remaining ombudsmen - chair Dr Jane Martin and vice-chair Anne Seex - were questioned by the select committee this week about the changes. Committee chair Clive Betts (Lab) said that Mr Pickles’ proposed changes - which also include a “comprehensive” reduction in staff numbers and a refocus on cases involving serious service failures - were “hardly… a ringing endorsement of how the service had operated in the past”. [My emphasis]
Dr Martin insisted that the changes were necessary because of the 14% budget cuts the service had been dealt. However, she also later admitted that in some cases it had had taken up to a year for the ombudsman to reach a decision - a delay she conceded “probably” amounted to maladministration.
Mr Pickles has also expressed a wish to send the entire organisation to Coventry, as putting the commission on a single site would provide “best value for money”.
“We are committed throughout the period to consolidate, as far as we can, to the Coventry office,” she told the communities and local government select committee on Monday. “However, we will not rule out the possibility of having investigative staff, particularly, based in London and York, because we want to ensure that we retain the best investigative staff we can”."My comment: How an earth can the Local Government Ombudsman [LGO] be considered consumer champions when they already bury nearly all local authority wrongdoings and report less than 1% of all cases as maladministration? A reduction in staff numbers, concentrating on serious service failurs will mean only one thing, the LGO will bury even more local authority wrongdoing that they do now. Looks to me like all Eric is interested in is saving money not improving they system of administrative justice.
"we want to ensure that we retain the best investigative staff we can”. What you mean the ones that just ring up the council, accept what they say and refuse to investigate properly? Which is what most appear to do!
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