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Durham County Council (20 012 161)

Category : Environment and regulation > Refuse and recycling

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 24 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint that the Council did not collect the complainant’s bulky waste. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to Mrs X, complains the Council did not collect her bulky waste and will not refund the £39 fee.

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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 an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (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 considered information on the Council’s website. I invited Mrs X to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

Bulky waste collections

  1. The webpage says people must leave the items at the kerbside where the bin is normally collected.

What happened

  1. Mrs X paid £39 for a bulky waste collection. She did not leave the items at the kerbside because they would have obstructed the path. Instead she left the items in her front garden. She says the Council had previously collected waste from the garden.
  2. The crew arrived but did not take any items because they had not been left at the kerbside at the normal bin collection point.
  3. Mrs X complained. In response the Council explained that the crew did not collect the waste because it had not been left at the kerbside. It said that when people make the booking the Council provides a message saying the crews will not collect items from gardens. And, the email which confirms the booking repeats that the items must be left at the normal bin collection point. The Council declined to issue a refund but said Mrs X could make a new booking.
  4. Mrs X did not rebook. She paid £110 for a private contractor to take the waste. Mrs X wants a £39 refund.


  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council. I can understand why Mrs X did not want to block the path but the Council gave clear instructions that the items had to be left at the kerbside and would not be collected from gardens. In addition, the Council arrived to carry out the collection and would have taken the waste if Mrs X had left the items at the kerbside. I appreciate Mrs X would like a refund but as there is no suggestion of fault by the Council there is no reason to start an investigation.

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Final decision

  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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