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North Devon District Council (19 006 069)

Category : Environment and regulation > Refuse and recycling

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 30 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s refuse collectors leaving bins obstructing his driveway on occasions since 2017. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of significant injustice which would warrant an investigation by the Ombudsman.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the Council’s refuse collectors leaving bins in front of his driveway on occasions instead of returning them to the correct place on the pavement. He says this has caused him inconvenience as he has to move them before he can enter his property.

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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 have considered all the information which Mr X submitted with his complaint and he has commented on the draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X says on occasions since 2017 Council refuse collectors left empty bins blocking his driveway instead of returning them to the normal location. As a result, he has had to get out of his car to move them which he says presents a road traffic risk to him and his family in the car.
  2. He first complained to the Council in April 2017 and made further complaints about incidents in 2018 and 2019. We cannot consider complaints about matters which the complainant was aware of more than 12 months before complaining to us. In 2019 the Council investigated his latest complaint and instructed its operators to ensure bins were returned to the proper location. It also provided an apology.
  3. In March 2020 Mr X experienced a further incident and again made a complaint. The Council told him it would remind the operators and issued a further apology for the inconvenience.
  4. The Local Government Ombudsman is obliged by law to consider not only any fault which a complainant has alleged, but also the injustice caused to them as a direct consequence of that failure. Considering the infrequency of the incidents compared to the total number of collections provided by the collection scheme I have decided that there is insufficient evidence of significant injustice to warrant an investigation.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of significant injustice which would warrant an investigation by the Ombudsman.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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