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Trafford Council (18 011 900)

Category : Environment and regulation > Refuse and recycling

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 28 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mrs X complained the refuse collectors were not putting her bins back when they were emptied. The Council was at fault. It has already apologised and monitored the waste collections. It will remind the waste collection team of the need to sustain their improved performance. The action the Council has already taken and intends to take is an appropriate remedy for the injustice caused.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complained the refuse collectors were not putting the bins back when they were emptied. This has been ongoing for over a year and has continued despite a period of Council monitoring. This has caused her inconvenience and frustration.

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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’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the information supplied by Mrs X and have spoken to her on the telephone. I have considered the Council’s response to my enquiries.
  2. I gave Mrs X and the Council the opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X lives in a row of houses on an unadopted road off another street. The Council’s waste collection vehicle cannot access the road. The residents leave the bins in a specific location. The waste collection team are expected to collect and return the bins to this location once they are emptied on the adjacent street.
  2. In June 2018 Mrs X complained to the Council because the waste collection team were leaving the bins at the top of the road, at the junction with the adjacent street, rather than returning them to the correct location. A supervisor contacted Mrs X following her complaint. They accepted the team were not returning the bins properly.
  3. Mrs X made a further complaint in September and another in October 2018 as the problem was continuing. The Council wrote to Mrs X and apologised. It carried out a six week period of monitoring and the supervisor spoke to the team. The Council says the supervisor also visited the waste collection team to demonstrate exactly what should happen when they emptied the bins and where they should be returned to. The Council’s monitoring records show an improvement and over the six week period the bins were returned to the correct location.
  4. The supervisor made a further visit to the site in January 2019 and recorded the team returned the bins to the correct location.

Findings

  1. The Council was at fault as the waste collection team were leaving the bins in the wrong location. The waste collection team’s actions cause Mrs X frustration. However the service has improved and there is no evidence of a continued and sustained failure to return the bins to the correct location.
  2. The Council has already apologised to Mrs X and put in place measures to monitor the waste collection team’s actions. It says the supervisor will meet with the team again to give them feedback on the sustained improved level of performance and as a reminder the Council expects this standard to continue. This is appropriate.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation. The Council was at fault and this caused Mrs X an injustice. The action the Council has already taken is sufficient to remedy the injustice caused.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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