Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 17 Jan 2020
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman should not investigate Mr J’s complaint that the Council has failed to share with him information relating to meetings about his children. Further investigation is unlikely to add anything to the investigation which has already taken place.
- Mr J complains that the Council has failed to share with him information relating to meetings about his children.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
- it is unlikely we would find fault, or
- it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the information Mr J provided with his complaint and information provided by the Council about its consideration of the complaint. I have given Mr J the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.
What I found
- Mr J has separated from his children’s mother. His children are currently subject to child protection procedures. Meetings about this are run as split meetings, so Mr J and his ex partner do not meet.
- Mr J complains that the Council removed information displayed on flip charts when he entered the room for his part of the meeting. He is concerned this means he is missing out on important information. The Council says it removed the information on display because Mr J had said he would be videoing the meeting and posting the video on-line. The Council was concerned there was a risk that confidential information would be displayed on-line, so officers removed the flip charts.
- Mr J contends he only mentioned posting the video on-line after officers had removed the flip charts. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that investigation by the Ombudsman would find fault in this respect, or lead to a different outcome. This is a credible explanation for the removal of the flip charts, given that Mr J had prior permission to video the meeting. It does not mean the Council was hiding information from Mr J which he was entitled to see. The Council says the information on the flip charts was discussed in the meeting with Mr J.
- Mr J further complains the Council did not provide him with minutes of the meeting, and did not invite him to a further meeting held in November. The Council accepts fault. It has apologised to Mr J, sent him the missing minutes, and arranged for him to attend the next meeting. Further investigation is unlikely to produce a different outcome here.
- The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because further investigation by the Ombudsman is unlikely to add anything to the investigation which has already taken place.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman