Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 26 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s decision that the complainant must place her bin for collection at the end of a track. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.
- The complainant, whom I refer to as Mrs X, complains that the Council require her to take her bin to the end of a private track for collection. She finds this difficult and would like the Council to collect the rubbish from her property.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I read the complaint and the Council’s response. I considered the Council’s waste policy and the law relating to the presentation of bins. I spoke to Mrs X after she received a draft of this decision.
What I found
- The law says the Council can decide where someone should place their bins for collection.
- The Council’s policy says people should present their bin at the collection point which will be at the kerbside or other place as advised by the Council.
- The Council provides an assisted collection service for people who are physically unable to take their bin to the collection point; this may be for reasons linked to disability or age. Assisted collection is not available if other people live in the property and they could take the bin to the collection point.
- Mrs X lives on a farm. She has to take her bin down a private track for collection. Mrs X finds it difficult to drag the bin to the collection point. She says it is dark and she worries the bin will be taken by somebody else or that other people will put items in the bin.
- Mrs X spoke to the Council about assisted collection. However, the Council said she was ineligible because other people live with her. Mrs X says this is wrong because her son sometimes stays elsewhere.
- In response to her complaint the Council confirmed that it can decide where residents are required to leave their bin and it requires people to present the bin at the kerbside. It explained Mrs X is required to present her bin at the end of the track so the crew can easily collect her rubbish.
- I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.
- The law says councils can decide where someone is required to present the bins for collection. This is echoed by the Council’s policy. The Council’s requirement that Mrs X must take her bin to the end of the track is consistent with both the law and policy so there is no reason to start an investigation.
- Mrs X has not made a formal application for assisted collection. She has merely had a conversation with the Council. Mrs X could make a written application for assisted collection and provide more information about whether other people live with her full-time. The Council could then make a formal decision as to whether she qualifies for assisted collection. If she qualified for assisted collection the Council would collect the bin from her property. However, this will depend on whether she lives alone and whether she has a disability or problems associated with age. Mrs X told me she is in employment and does not have a disability.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman