Durham County Council (23 017 454)

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’s handling of his reports about environmental issues around his area. He says the Council has not done anything to resolve the issues. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains about the Council’s handling of his reports about environmental issues around his area. He has complained about an empty property, litter, and dog fouling. He says the Council has not done anything to resolve the issues.

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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 impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. 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))
  2. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

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

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My assessment

  1. Mr X raised service requests to the Council regarding dog fouling and an empty home.
  2. In response to these reports, the Council said the relevant team had investigated, including the team completing patrols in the area, replacing signage where necessary, and placing stencils on the ground to advise of responsible dog ownership. The Council said the areas were also cleaned.
  3. The Council confirmed to Mr X it would continue to investigate the area and encouraged him to continue to report any further incidents of dog fouling to assist its investigations.
  4. Regarding littering, the Council confirmed it had an appropriate cleaning schedule in place for the area, and that an officer had visited the area and considered it was cleaned to an acceptable standard. The Council provided photographs to Mr X of the streets inspected.
  5. An investigation is not justified as we are not likely to find fault with the Council’s actions. This is because the evidence shows the Council properly considered Mr X’s information and reports. It is for the Council to decide what action it needs to take to address and resolve the matter. We would not be able to find fault just because Mr X considers the Council’s actions do not go far enough.

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Final decision

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

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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