West Northamptonshire Council (23 017 684)

Category : Environment and regulation > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2024

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s delay in discharging planning conditions and progressing a section 106 agreement. Also, the complainant says the Council refused to meet him and discuss safety issues after a building fire. We cannot achieve the outcome the complainant is seeking. We cannot determine whether the Council is liable for the complainant’s financial losses, such matters are for insurers or the courts to consider.

The complaint

  1. Mr X says the Council is responsible for his financial losses because:
    • it delayed discharging planning conditions and progressing a section 106 agreement despite warnings about the safety of a building
    • it ignored warnings about the safety of his building; and
    • refused to meet him to discuss a solution to make the site safe.
  2. He is seeking at least £80,000 in compensation.

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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 we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.

(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 Mr X and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. The Ombudsman cannot decide liability or award damages. Consequently, any claim for damages, such as costs for repairs or legal fees, which Mr X considers the Council to be responsible for, are matters more appropriately dealt with by the courts. It is therefore reasonable for Mr X to pursue his claim through either his insurer or the courts. We will not investigate this complaint.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because the courts and insurers are better placed to consider the complaint.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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