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London Borough of Bromley (18 013 391)

Category : Environment and regulation > Refuse and recycling

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 21 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s waste collection service. This is because Mr X has not suffered a significant personal injustice.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the Council’s waste collection staff wheeling bins close to his car. He is worried his car could be damaged.

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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’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, or
  • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
  • the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered Mr X’s complaint to the Ombudsman and the information he provided. I also gave Mr X the opportunity to comment on a draft statement before reaching a final decision on his complaint.

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What I found

  1. Mr X says a council worker previously damaged his car by wheeling a refuse bin through a narrow gap. He says the Council denied liability, but told its staff to use empty parking spaces to move refuse bins. Mr X says he has recently seen a council worker again wheeling a bin through a narrow gap close to his car. He is worried his car will be damaged. The Council says there was no evidence its staff previously damaged Mr X’s car. It says it will not accept a complaint about something that has not yet happened.
  2. In deciding whether to investigate a complaint, the Ombudsman needs to consider various tests. These include if the alleged fault has caused the person complaining significant personal injustice. We do not investigate all the complaints we receive, and only look at those we consider the most serious.
  3. Mr X is clearly concerned council staff could damage his car. But the Ombudsman does not look at speculative complaints. We cannot consider complaints about what might happen. I do not consider Mr X to have been caused significant personal injustice, and so an investigation by the Ombudsman is not appropriate.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint. This is because he has not suffered a significant personal injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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