Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 12 Nov 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms A’s complaint that the Council has refused her application and appeal for free school transport for her sons. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part.
- Ms A complains that the Council has refused her application and appeal for free school transport for her sons.
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. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered what Ms A has said in support of her complaint and the appeal documents provided by the Council. I have also considered Ms A’s response to my draft decision.
What I found
- Ms A applied for free school transport for her two sons. The Council applied its Home to School Transport Policy. As the school they attend is not one of the closest to her home address, they refused the applications.
- Ms A appealed against the Council’s decisions. She said her children have special educational needs which cannot be met at the school closest to the home address. She asserted that the school they attend is the most suitable for them but the cost of travel places considerable strain on the family.
- Ms A attended the hearing at which the Council’s appeal panel considered her appeal. The evidence shows that she was able to make her case and that the panel considered it.
- The panel’s role was to consider whether the Council had properly applied its policy and, if so, whether Ms A’s case strong enough to justify awarding free transport on a discretionary basis. There in no evidence to suggest fault in the way it did so.
- The panel decided not to use its discretion and refused the appeal. The weight the panel members gave to the evidence was a matter for them, not the Ombudsman. Without evidence of fault in the way the panel made its decision the Ombudsman cannot criticise the merits of the decision, or intervene to substitute an alternative view. There are no grounds for the Ombudsman to investigate the complaint.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman