The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We cannot investigate Mr F’s complaint about the consultation process used by a school academy proposing to expand. The Council does not make the final decision on this proposal nor decide the consultation process.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr F, says the Council has not properly consulted on a proposal to expand a school.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
- We investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies. We cannot investigate the actions of bodies such as school academies. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 25 and 34(1), as amended)
- We cannot investigate a complaint where the body complained about is not responsible for the issue being raised. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(1), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Mr F supplied with his complaint. Mr F commented on a draft version of this decision.
What I found
- Mr F says his local school, which his children attend, proposes to expand in physical size. The school is an academy. It has advertised its plans on its website and invited parents’ and residents’ comments. It started this process at the end of January 2018.
- The Council has confirmed that it has received no planning application for this site yet.
- Mr F says the consultation is inadequate and does not meet the guidelines.
- We have no power to consider an academy’s actions.
- The Department of Education guidance says an academy should consult the local Council. The Secretary of State makes the final approval not the Council.
- We will not investigate this complaint. This is because the Council is not responsible for the matters complained about.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman