London Borough of Camden repeatedly ignored a man’s requests for a street trading pitch and his subsequent complaints about it.
The Ombudsman said the Council had no proper procedures or policies in place for allocating street trading pitches. The process lacked transparency and fairness and made the allocation of pitches open to the possibility or the appearance of corruption.
She also said the Council’s complaints procedure had failed. “The Council’s own central complaints unit appears to have been ignored by the department concerned, and my own investigation has been hampered by incorrect information provided by the Council. This has caused unacceptable delay and frustration to the complainant, who has been trying for three years to make use of an unused street trading pitch. Added to this, the Council has itself been losing revenue due to its own disorganisation.”
The man complained about the Council’s failure to respond to his repeated requests for a particular street trading pitch that had not been used since 2008. He received no response to his first application, and his continued attempts over the next three years to secure the pitch, or another permanent pitch, were unsuccessful.
The Ombudsman found maladministration causing injustice and the Council agreed to provide the remedy that she recommended, to:
- draw up new procedures to allow for the fair and transparent allocation of miscellaneous street trading pitches
- review the way it handles complaints, and
- apologise to the complainant and pay him £300 compensation.
Remedy agreed with Council prior to publication: 1 February 2012