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Medway Council (18 016 413)

Category : Environment and regulation > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 11 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s failure to properly collect litter in streets near his home. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council which would warrant an investigation. Mr X’s complaint about the conduct of a contractor was considered by the Council in 2016 and this is outside the normal 12-month period in which we can accept complaints.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the Council’s failure to collect all the litter in his area. He says that it does not remove leaves which could be covering dog waste and needles which could pose a danger. He also complains about a council refuse contractor being rude to him in 2016.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

  1. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered all the information which Mr X submitted with his complaint. I have also considered the Council’s response and Mr X was given an opportunity to comment on the draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X complained about the Council failing to collect litter in streets and garage areas around his area. In particular he says that leaves are not collected in the autumn and they may be concealing dog waste and used needles. He complained to the Council and it told him the collections were operating correctly for the status of the location.
  2. The Council says it does not collect leaves and blossoms which have recently fallen regularly because they are not classed as litter in the guidance. It removes them with a blower occasionally but not from soft area such as grass. The normal litter collection standard is being applied to the streets and a garage area. This does not include private garage areas which are not the Council’s responsibility.
  3. Mr X complained about a member of the waste contractors team whom he said was rude to him in 2016. The Council says it responded to his complaint in January 2017 and he has made no further comment to its investigation. The Ombudsman will not exercise his discretion to investigate this matter now because it is outside the normal 12-month period for accepting complaints.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council which would warrant an investigation. Mr X’s complaint about the conduct of a contractor was considered by the Council in 2016 and this is outside the normal 12-month period in which we can accept complaints.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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