Cherwell District Council and the Local Government OmbudsmanClick here to visit the author's blog or here for more about the article below.
I am complaining about both the Local Ombudsman investigators in the Coventry office that were supposed to deal with my complaint fairly and impartially against Cherwell District Council, in that it caused service failure and maladministration.
The Ombudsman office failed to exercise its statutory functions properly and its discretion reasonably, and came to decisions that were grossly unfair to me, and biased toward the Cherwell District Council that the complaint had been made against.
In the numbered paragraphs of the STATEMENT OF REASONS by Ms G Earles 9th November 2011 she states 'the Complainant complains that the council failed to publicise changes to its parks enforcement policy''.
I did not make this complaint and it is her words not mine. I complained and maintain throughout my complaint that on the day that I visited a car park that had always been free to blue badge holders to park, there were no proper signs visible in the car park or the disabled part of the car park stating that charges apply, and only became aware of the charges when a ticket was put on my car as I used the public toilet, and it was unfair that other users had proper signs dotted around the car park.
After looking around for signs it became clear they were unreadable and that is why they could not be read and I then took photo's of the car park and signs and supplied photo's of the car park that I took on the day.
She claims, that as part of the investigation, she made enquiries of the council and considered the comments and documents the council provided. The way this has been worded, reads as if the council had supplied documents in response to her enquiry regarding my complaint.
Under a freedom of information request to see all the evidence the council supplied in relation to my complaint a Mr Pollard states that no enquiries were made in relation to my complaint as the Ombudsman had already decided that as from as from April 2011 the council had taken adequate steps to publicise changes, which they did locally, so that local people would be aware charges were in operation.
She fails to take into account that on the day of my visit the entrance sign was unreadable, photo 2 below, and that people from out of the area visiting the town and using a car park that they had used before that had been free for years, gave no proper warning to disabled blue badge holders that charges were in operation, photo 1 on the right.
(6) she refers to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. My concerns have been that no proper visible readable signs were in place and do not understand why she is pointing this out, unless she is saying that a council can do as they please and not put up clear visible signs so that the public would know of their plans to charge in a car park that had always been free for blue badge holders.
(9) she states I didn't take any notice of sign at entrance.
I have never said this. I did say the sign was unreadable and as photo's show it was tilted upward to the sun and was a laminated A4 sign stuck on a yellow board. Close-ups of the sign show that with the light glaring into it nothing can be read, photo 2 on the left
She also makes no comment about signs being cleaned and new ones replacing the old ones after I made my complaint to the council, photo's of which I made available to her, so she could see the before and after effect, photo 3 on the right.
She states that in her view the Local Authorities are free to determine whether or not they wish to charge blue badge holders to park. I totally agree with that statement, but that being the case they should also have a duty to make sure proper signs or even temporary signs are maintained and clearly visible at all times so that blue badge holders locally, and from out of the area are aware of this.
They were not on my visit, and on other visits photo's show that signs were still not maintained. Yet in other car parks operated by the same council, where I took other photo's, proper signs one would expect to see have been erected in disabled bays.
She states it is unfortunate that the complainant did not see/take note of the temporary signs, but fails to note that the signs are unreadable.
She states the Complainant is unhappy the the Council treated his letter of complaint as an appeal rather than a complaint and does not feel that this caused any injustice as I did subsequently appeal.
She totally ignored the fact that the Council didnt follow their own procedures and policies in relation to appeals, and had already pre-determined the out-come of mine before I had appealed.
Further freedom of information request for copies of phone calls resulted in notes being sent to me as to what was written at the time of the calls. As calls are recorded I wanted copies of the conversations.
On her notes of my complaint she refers to me parking in a car park in Banbury. I have never parked in Banbury, and from photos supplied by the Council to them it clearly shows proper signs in place in Banbury, so she was not even considering the right car park where I parked, photo 4 on the right.
I stated that I did not agree with the findings and was told a review would take place. Months later when still nothing had happened I got in touch with the office and got an apology as it had been over-looked. Subsequently the review by Mrs B R Headley agreed with the position taken by Ms G Earles.
She states that she has noted my comments about the quality of signage and having looked at photo's supplied (it is unclear whether she looked at photo's I supplied or whether she looked at the councils own photo's of signs, as she fails to say, and most likely looked at photo's of Banbury as Ms G Earles had done, which was not the car park I was in) she does not agree with my view that they are unfit for purpose.
She states that she finds no evidence that the council acted with malice against me and letters they sent were standard letters. This is not true as letters show (which she obviously did not read) that the council were responding to particular issues I had raised.
She also states that 'no one has suggested you do not have a right to complain,' (whatever that has to do with it I do not know as I have never said that to her) and goes on to say that my complaint has been considered by the council and now by them and she does not consider that my complaint can be upheld, and is therefore closing the case.
Another freedom of information request reveals that no one visited the car park in question to see the state of the signs even though several complaints from other people had been made about the car park, which I find particularly disturbing, as it must be blatantly clear that there is a problem in that car park, but, no one thought it worthwhile investigating, so how can anyone be impartial so that justice can be done.
Having researched the Ombudsman complaint procedure as I was not sure who to complain to about the Ombudsman decision as she also states no further correspondence will be entered into, and I came across the following site http://www.northdevonlink.co.uk/council-lies.htm and the owrc site
The Coventry Ombudsmans office appears to have a history of ignoring what is requested and answering questions that have not been asked, as they have done numerous times with my complaint. It appears they have delayed my complaint to the extent that I have been unable to get a fair and just outcome by a person acting impartially, fairly and reasonably as to the circumstances surrounding my complaint.
The original ticket was for £80 but they put it up to £100 even while the ombudsman was supposed to be investigating the complaint. i paid the £100 out of my heating allowance as i felt bullied and harassed by the council and told them that i was only paying it to stop them from bullying me further ,
I have also been threatened with vexation to be classed as a nuisance complainer because i ask for freedom of information and they are aware that i have issues that affect memory and can only ask when I think of things . i have also warned them that because of this i may duplicate things. so i am being bullied on all sides.
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