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Boston Borough Council (20 011 928)

Category : Environment and regulation > Refuse and recycling

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 31 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council charging for new bins. There is not enough evidence of fault by the Council to warrant an Ombudsman investigation.

The complaint

  1. Mrs J says the Council:
  • charged her to provide wheelie bins to her property;
  • missed bin collections; and
  • did not provide her good customer service when dealing with her complaint.

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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 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 read the complaint and the Council’s responses. I invited Mrs J to comment on the draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs J says the Council charged her £75 to provide wheelie bins to her new build property. She says the Council no longer charges for new bins and should refund her the costs.
  2. The Council said the policy when Mrs J made her request was to charge for new bins and because of this it will not refund her.
  3. The Council can by law decide whether to charge for new wheelie bins or not. Its policy on bins for new houses when Mrs J moved into hers was to charge for bins. Although it has now changed its policy there is no procedural fault in not backdating the change. There is not enough evidence of fault here to warrant an Ombudsman investigation.
  4. Mrs J also says the Council arrived late for one bin collection meaning her wheelie bin cleaner was unable to complete the job, but she still had to pay £4 for this private service. She also says it missed another bin collection.
  5. The Council said it spoke to Mrs J on the phone to resolve issues with her bin collections.
  6. When deciding whether to investigate, we must decide whether there is significant injustice. In this case, the injustice from a late and a missed bin collection is not enough to warrant investigation.
  7. Mrs J says the Council did not provide good customer service when dealing with her complaint. She says it was late responding.
  8. The Council said it thought Mrs J wanted a phone call as she had said in her initial contact form, and it contacted her in this manner. When it realised not all of her complaint had been resolved, it responded to the remaining issues.
  9. We do not usually investigate issues around complaint handling when we do not investigate the original complaint.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint about charging for wheelie bins. This is because there is not enough evidence of fault by the Council to warrant an Ombudsman investigation. The missed and late bin collections did not cause significant injustice to Mrs J and do not warrant investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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