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Birmingham City Council (19 018 514)

Category : Environment and regulation > Refuse and recycling

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr B complains the Council has given him the wrong type of household waste bin and so it is not being collected. The Ombudsman will not investigate the complaint because it is unlikely we can add to the investigation already carried out by the Council and an investigation is unlikely to lead to a different outcome.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I refer to as Mr B, says the Council has given him the wrong type of household waste bin which has meant his rubbish has not been collected on a number of occasions. He says it will not provide him with the correct bin.

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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, or
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or
  • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. In considering the complaint I spoke to Mr B and reviewed the information he and the Council provided. I gave Mr B the opportunity to comment on my draft decision and considered what he said.

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What I found

  1. Mr B bought a replacement household waste bin from the Council. He put the bin out for collection but it was not emptied. He complained to the Council about the missed collection and said he wanted a bin which indicated it was a “Household Waste” bin as his neighbours’ bins did.
  2. The Council checked the bin and replied to Mr B. It apologised for the missed collection and told him it would remind the crew to ensure his property was not missed. However, it explained that as there was nothing wrong with the bin it would not provide a replacement.
  3. Mr B complained again to the Council when his bin was not emptied on three occasions. He asked for a bin which made clear it was a household waste bin and not any other kind. However, the Council upheld its original response.
  4. Dissatisfied with the response to his complaint, Mr B complained to the Ombudsman. In responding to my enquiries, the Council has advised that an inspection of the bin at the end of February 2020 found it to be undamaged and that the last missed collection had been in mid-February. It explained that the bins are colour coded with a grey lid for household waste, a blue lid for recycling and a brown lid for garden waste. It confirmed there are no bins which have the wording “household waste” on them and that there is no further action it can take as Mr B has a grey lidded bin.

Assessment

  1. The Council checked Mr B’s bin and found it meets the required standard and it has advised that it will speak to the household crew to ensure weekly collections are carried out as scheduled.
  2. Given this confirmation from the Council, I do not consider an investigation by the Ombudsman would add to that already undertaken by the Council or lead to a different outcome.
  3. While Mr B says his neighbours’ bins have wording on them, the Council has explained bins are colour-coded by lid and that it has no bins in stock which have “household waste” on them so it cannot take any further action. The Council’s records show the last missed collection took place mid-February. If the collection is missed again Mr B can contact the Council about this or consider marking his bin himself to denote it is a household waste bin.
  4. In response to other comments made by Mr B, we would not investigate a complaint about “a brand with a logo” for a bin costing £20 which has been checked and conforms to the required standard.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we can add to the investigation already carried out by the Council and an investigation is unlikely to lead to a different outcome.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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