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London Borough of Bexley (21 011 314)

Category : Children's care services > Disabled children

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 07 Mar 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mrs B complained the Council unreasonably refused to award her son a blue badge. I have not investigated the complaint as the Council has since reconsidered its decision and awarded the blue badge. The Ombudsman could not achieve anything further for Mrs B.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mrs B, complained:
    • the Council wrongly refused to award a blue badge for her son when he meets the eligibility criteria; and
    • during the blue badge assessment the occupational therapist made inappropriate remarks about her son.
  2. Mrs B says fault by the Council means her son has missed out on an opportunity to have access to his walking aid and it has caused her distress.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. As part of the investigation, I have:
    • considered the complaint and Mrs B's comments;
    • considered Government guidance on blue badges; and
    • considered the complaint correspondence between Mrs B and the Council.
  2. Mrs B and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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What I found

What should have happened

  1. Since 17 June 2011, children under the age of three have been eligible for a badge if they fall under either or both of the following criteria:
    • a child who, on account of a condition, must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment which cannot be carried around with the child without great difficulty;
    • a child who, on account of a condition, must always be kept near a motor vehicle so that, if necessary, treatment for that condition can be given in the vehicle or the child can be taken quickly in the vehicle to a place where such treatment can be given.

What happened

  1. Mrs B’s son is under the age of three and suffers from global development delay. Mrs B applied for a blue badge as her son has to walk with a walking aid which is bulky and heavy. An occupational therapist assessed Mrs B’s son and allegedly made inappropriate comments about him. The Council refused the application.
  2. Following the complaint to the Ombudsman a Council officer visited Mrs B and viewed the walking aid her son has to use. The Council decided Mrs B was entitled to a blue badge and awarded that blue badge in February 2022.

Analysis

  1. In terms of the refusal of the blue badge, I am satisfied the Council has remedied that by awarding a blue badge to Mrs B. As the Ombudsman cannot achieve anything further for Mrs B I see no reason to continue the investigation of the complaint.
  2. For the concerns Mrs B has about comments the occupational therapist made, I note from the Council’s correspondence the occupational therapist denies making those comments. I do not consider further investigation by the Ombudsman could shed any further light on this matter as the Ombudsman cannot take evidence on oath. I therefore do not intend to investigate the complaint further.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman has not investigated this complaint as the Council has already remedied it.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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