Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Remedies - Guidance on Good Practice - the remedies the Local Government Ombudsman prescribe but don't uphold

Remedies - Local Government Ombudsman's Guidance on Good Practice

This Local Government Ombudsman publication states quite clearly:

The aim of the guidelines is to promote consistency in remedies. The remedy needs to be appropriate and proportionate to the injustice. It should, as far as possible, put the complainant in the position he or she would have been in but for the maladministration. 

It is reasonable to expect the Local Government Ombudsman would practice what they preach and uphold their guidance on remedies. But that is not the case.

There is no consistency in the Local Government Ombudsman's remedies. They recommend substantially different remedies for similar cases. Often they recommend a derisory payment of £50 to £250 irrespective of the injustice suffered by the complainant. Substantial payments are made in only a few well publicised reported cases. Less than 1.5% of investigated cases are reported.

In many cases the Local Government Ombudsman recommend a remedy that does not rectify the injustice (even when this is possible), or put the complainant back in the position he or she would have been but for the maladministration.

The Local Government Ombudsman connive with council officers to agree local settlements with councils that are not agreed with the complainant. The complainant's view about the remedy is not reported, and the Local Government Ombudsman lacks the statutory power to enforce any remedy it recommends or agrees with council officers. The Local Government Ombudsman cannot make the council put things right.

Here are some examples of how the Local Government Ombudsman ignore their own guidance:-

Section A6 of Part IX of the guidance (Planning section) states:

There will sometimes be situations where the complaint is that the council failed to act. The remedy may then be that appropriate action should be taken.

Example 1

When council officers allowed the felling of a significant number of protected trees contrary to their planning policy, failed to include replanting conditions, and failed to enforce replanting conditions or the statutory duty to replant, the Local Government Ombudsman ignores their own guidance and fails to recommend the council take action to ensure replacement trees are planted. Details here.

Example 2

When planning officers neglect to include planning conditions requiring developers to maintain landscape areas not included in a Planning Agreement, or to ensure landscape schemes are approved and implemented, the Local Government Ombudsman disregards their own guidance and fails to recommend the council take action to acquire and maintain the landscape areas at their expense, or carry out landscaping that has not been done. Details here.

Example 3

When a Development Control Manager grants planning permission for residential development (without delegated authority to do so) on land a developer was required under a legally binding Planning Agreement to transfer to the council as public open space, the Local Government Ombudsman disregards their own guidance and neglects to recommend the council take action to enforce the Planning Agreement. Instead, the corrupt Local Government Ombudsman covers up the maladministration by concealing the documented incriminating evidence and condones the obvious injustice to local residents by denying them the use and enjoyment of the land as public open space. Details here.

There are many more examples of the way the Local Government Ombudsman ignore their own guidance given in the case histories.  Details here.

The three wise monkeys are a pictorial maxim. Together they embody the proverbial principle to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". The phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refusing to acknowledge it, or feigning ignorance.

Three wise monkeys