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North Somerset Council (22 002 480)

Category : Education > School transport

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 12 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about school transport. This is because the complaint does not meet the tests in our Assessment Code on how we decide which complaints to investigate. There is not enough evidence of fault by the Council, and we cannot achieve the outcome the complainant wants.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, Mr X, purchased a Vacant Seat for his daughter (Y) to travel to school. Y does not qualify for free transport to school, but Mr X’s other daughter (Z) does. The Vacant Seat meant Y could travel on the vehicle with Z. Changes to when Z is in school meant the Council reduced her transport. This affected Y because the Council said it would not operate the transport if Z was not travelling. Mr X wants the Council to reinstate the transport.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if the tests set out in our Assessment Code are not met. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. The role of the Ombudsman is not to act as an appeal body for people who disagree with a council’s decision. We will only investigate complaints in certain situations. For example, if there is fault in how a council made a decision, or if it is not following a published policy.
  2. We will not therefore investigate Mr X’s complaint. While I understand his frustrations, the Council’s published policy is clear. The Council will not provide a Vacant Seat if it means the Council will incur extra costs. Providing transport to Y when Z is no longer travelling would do this. The Council is therefore following its published policy and there is not enough evidence of fault by the Council for us to become involved. We have no powers in this case to tell the Council to reinstate the transport and so we cannot achieve the outcome Mr X wants.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because there is not enough evidence of fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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