Privacy settings

LGO logogram

Review your privacy settings

Required cookies

These cookies enable the website to function properly. You can only disable these by changing your browser preferences, but this will affect how the website performs.

View required cookies

Analytical cookies

Google Analytics cookies help us improve the performance of the website by understanding how visitors use the site.
We recommend you set these 'ON'.

View analytical cookies

In using Google Analytics, we do not collect or store personal information that could identify you (for example your name or address). We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data. Google has developed a tool to help you opt out of Google Analytics cookies.

Essex County Council (18 016 797)

Category : Environment and regulation > Refuse and recycling

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains the Council failed to act after he was subjected to verbal abuse and threats of physical assault when he visited the Council’s recycling centre. The Ombudsman will not investigate his complaint because we do not consider further investigation will lead to a different outcome.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council failed to act after he was verbally abused and threatened with physical assault when he visited the recycling centre. He also wants copies of any CCTV or mobile phone footage which shows the incident.
  2. Mr X says he wants the operator dismissed and compensation for not being able to use the service.

Back to top

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 could add to any previous investigation by the Council
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome
  • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants
  • there is another body better placed to consider this complaint

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (6), as amended)

  1. The Information Commissioner's Office considers complaints about freedom of information. Its decision notices may be appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights). So, where we receive complaints about freedom of information, we normally consider it reasonable to expect the person to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner.

Back to top

How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mr X and the Council. I also considered Mr X’s comments on the draft version of this decision.

Back to top

What I found

  1. Mr X complained to the Council that a worker at the Council’s recycling centre verbally abused and threatened him.
  2. The contractor which runs the recycling centre on the Council’s behalf responded to his complaint.
  3. It told Mr X that if its staff suspect that waste is from a trade source then they can refuse to accept it. In this case it appears the worker believed Mr X’s waste was from a trade source because the compute he was disposing off had an “electrical pass” label on it. However, it confirmed it expects all staff to treat visitors to the site with respect. It says it has reminded all staff of this and it will monitor behaviour. The contractor also told Mr X that all employees with received ‘respect at work’ training to reinforce the behaviour expected of them.
  4. Mr X unhappy that the Council passed his complaint to the contractor for a response. He is unhappy that he cannot withhold council tax payments but is left to settle any disputes with the contractor himself, rather than the Council dealing this for him.

Assessment

  1. The Council has out-sourced running its recycling centres to a contractor. The contractor was best placed to investigate his complaint. And was in the position to take relevant action relating to its employees’ actions. Therefore, I consider this to be a suitable way to deal with this part of the Mr X’s complaint.
  2. Mr X says he should receive financial compensation because he was not able to dispose of his waste on the day he visited. And that he wants the employee dismissed.
  3. The contractor has explained to Mr X that an employee suspected his waste was from a trade source rather than personal household and this was why he was not allowed to dispose of his waste. It has confirmed it has reminded staff of the respect it expects them to show customers.
  4. I do not expect a complainant to be advised of what, if any, disciplinary proceedings have been taken against an individual staff member. This is because the employer is obliged to protect the personal information of the employee. Mr X wants the worker dismissed. However, the Ombudsman cannot be involved in personal matters.
  5. Mr X says he should receive financial compensation not be able to dispose of his items on the day. However, the contractor has expressed disappointment that he did not have a pleasant experience. It has explained it has reminded staff of their obligations to treat customers with respect. And confirmed all staff will have extra training. I consider this to be an appropriate remedy to this part of his complaint.
  6. Regarding the CCTV recording or mobile phone footage. If his request to receive this information has been refused, Mr X can ask the Information Commissioner’s Office to consider this.

Back to top

Final decision

  1. I will not investigate this complaint. This is because:
    • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council
    • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome
    • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants
    • there is another body better placed to consider this complaint

Back to top

Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Print this page