Monday, April 23, 2012

Written evidence re investigation into the LGO

Further to my last few posts the Communities and Local Government (CLG) have now published some of the written evidence submitted to the Department of Communities for Local Government select committee as part of their investigation into the Local Government Ombudsman.

You can download a complete PDF here

Some of the individual submissions are also available on line,
Just a pity they screwed some of the formatting up when converting from the format requested to the finished product.

As soon a they publish the outcome of the investigation I will post more details.

In the meantime if you are interested in seeing what evidence the 2005 select committee investigation into the Role and Effectiveness of the Local Government Ombudsman ignored download this PDF

One interesting point is that there is more damning evidence for the select committee to look at this time than there was in 2005. A not unexpected outcomes when you buried, rather than resolved, the problems you identified the first time round. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

LGO, PHSO and the CLG Select Committee Investigation

Since my earlier post Inquiry into the Local Government Ombudsman which gave details of the then forthcoming Communities and Local Government Committee (CLG) inquiry into the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) we have had some rather interesting developments.

Firstly the CLG pre-empted the investigation by publishing the following on the 16th April 2012

Local government ombudsman to champion residents' cause Use the link to read in full, extracts of interest below.
A Chairman and Vice Chairman Ombudsman who will lead a more customer-focused Commission that champions the rights of redress for local residents were appointed today.
Acting Chairman Dr Jane Martin has been designated as Chairman of the Commission for Local Administration in England and Anne Seex as Vice-Chairman. Both are already performing Local Government Ombudsman roles. 
Creating a more streamlined Local Government Ombudsman will deliver a more cost effective organisation and make sure that the Ombudsman is well placed to provide services that support citizens' needs with a particular emphasis on consumer champions as envisaged in the Open Public Services White Paper.
The Minister for Local Government Grant Shapps said:
"I am delighted that Jane Martin and Ann Seex have taken up the task of leading the Local Government Ombudsman. I know they are determined to champion the rights of local residents. [my emphasis]
"The Local Government Ombudsman has a vital role to play in the community making sure people get swift and fair redress if things go wrong [my emphahsis] in the delivery of their local services."
Obviously the Minister for Local Government, Grant Shapps,  knows little, if anything, about the Local Government Ombudsman because if he did he wouldn't say such misleading things about them.

Even the LGO are on record stating that they are not people's champions. In addition everyone know that the Local Government Ombudsman don't do anything swiftly especially offer fair redress.

What I am concerned about is that in advance of the CLG select committee inquiry the Minister for Local Government is propagating LGO propaganda together with statements which appear to secure the future of the discredited LGO in spite of what the investigation may uncover and what the outcome may be.

In advance of the investigation the CLG has also published some evidence submitted by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Use the link to read in full, extracts of interest below.
Written evidence submitted by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
In considering how the LGO operates both the LGO and the Department for Communities and Local Government should keep in mind the British & Irish Ombudsman Association’s (BIOA) five key criteria for membership:
· Independence
· Fairness
· Effectiveness
· Openness and Transparency
· Accountability
· the arrangements for handling complaints
Conducting joint investigations enable us to tell the full story. 
Most complainants know they are not independent, fair, effective, open and transparent nor accountable but may not know how they managed to fiddle membership of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association (BIOA).  The answer is because they were founder members of the BIOA and as such would hardly exclude themselves even if they didn't meet the criteria.

The PHSO also suggests that conducting joint investigations enables them to tell the full story. However, they didn't do that when they both investigated the Balchin's case. They left out the fact that the LGO was at fault many years earlier for terminating their investigation after accepting the word of a Council CEO during a telephone call in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

I can only conclude from the above that the LGO, PHSO and CLG prefer to keep the current corrupt system of administrative justice in England, and that the select committee investigation is, as was the one in 2005, just another exercise to prop up a corrupt and not fit for purpose system .

Coming soon, the story behind my decision not to give oral evidence to this sham select committee investigation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Local Government Ombudsman recommendations rejected

SOUTH Holland District Council has refused to pay compensation to a developer following a planning wrangle.

A Local Government Ombudsman had recommended Nestwood Homes receive more than £250,000 after maladministration by the council in the way it dealt with a development in Old Main Road, Fleet, dating back to 2006.

But councillors stuck by a decision they made in December not to pay up because to do so could result in an eight per cent hike in council tax for the district.

My comment: This can't have come at a worse time for the Local Government Ombudsmen who recently have  been pursuing a campaign of positive publicity in advance of the forthcoming select committee investigation. (See my previous post for more information regarding this)

This also ruins their constant efforts to manipulate events so they can argue they have a 100% compliance rate.  As does this and many other cases over the years including the well publicised Trafford case. They have also declined to support their claims with proof

Furthermore, I have first hand experience of how easy it is for the LGO to fiddle their statistics. They made recommendations to my council in 1998 following a finding of maladministration leading to injustice. However, the council did not fulfil all the recommendations yet the LGO compliance statistics suggested they had. How did they manage this smoke and mirrors illusion? 

All the LGO have to so to avoid having to issue a second report, which would highlight none compliance and also damage their reputation, is to state they are satisfied with what the council has done. Hey presto, no second report and no damaged reputation even though a council may not have provided the recommended remedy. 

A Comment from below the article also raises an interesting point "...what value does the ombudsman bring to the process if their findings can be ignored."

Read the full story from the source Spalding Today