London Borough of Hackney (23 017 022)

Category : Environment and regulation > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 15 Mar 2024

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council removing and disposing of Mr X’s motorbike. There is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council to warrant an investigation.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council failed to contact him when his motorbike was reported as an abandoned vehicle, removed and disposed of. Mr X wants an apology, admission of the mistake, and compensation.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word fault to refer to these. We consider whether there was fault in the way an organisation made its decision. If there was no fault in how the organisation made its decision, we cannot question the outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  2. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or continue an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended, section 34(B)

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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. Mr X parked his motorbike on a public highway. The motorbike was locked and covered. Someone reported the motorbike to the Council as abandoned.
  2. Councils have a duty to remove abandoned vehicles from roads. Councils must decide whether a vehicle is abandoned using certain criteria. Councils can dispose of an abandoned vehicle immediately, without attempts to find the owner if the Council considers ‘it’s only fit to be destroyed’.
  3. The Council assessed whether Mr X's motorbike was abandoned against the criteria set out in law and policy. It gave Mr X clears reason why it considered the motorbike abandoned and only fit to be destroyed. And therefore, it did not need to contact him before doing so.
  4. I recognise Mr X remains dissatisfied. However, the Ombudsman is not an appeal body for people who disagree with a council’s decision. We cannot question the merits of decisions which have been properly made. We do not comment on judgements councils make unless they are affected by fault in the decision-making process.
  5. We will not investigate the complaint because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council. The Council has a duty to assess, remove, and dispose of abandoned vehicles. The Council acted in line with its duty and legislation.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because there is insufficient evidence of fault to warrant an investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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