Decision : Upheld
Decision date : 18 Nov 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about his bin collections. There is not enough evidence of the matters causing Mr X a significant personal injustice to justify us investigating, and an investigation would not lead to a different outcome to the apology the Council has provided.
- Mr X complains the Council and its contractor have failed to consistently collect his rubbish, missing some collections and collecting others late.
- Mr X says he has had overflowing bins, irritation with the service problems, and annoyance with the complaint process upholding his complaint but not remedying it to his satisfaction. He says he is not getting the service he pays for through his Council Tax and wants a partial rebate and compensation for time and trouble.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide:
- any injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
- further investigation would not lead to a different outcome.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
- If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by Mr X, and the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- In response to Mr X’s complaint, the Council upheld it and apologised. It said it was working with its contractor to improve the service. It explained it was being affected by the national HGV driver shortage and other staff issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council also explained the steps it is taking to deal with the problems, which are affecting different industries and services in many parts of the country.
- We recognise missed or late collections are annoying and inconvenient, as is reporting these incidents to the Council. But the impact of these matters on Mr X is not significant enough to warrant us investigating for a further remedy.
- Mr X pursued the matter with the Council, to get a further remedy for the bin issues, which he says cost him more time and caused more inconvenience. But the apology the Council has given to Mr X is an appropriate outcome for the injustice caused here by the bin matters.
- We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because:
- there is not enough evidence of the matters causing Mr X such a significant personal injustice to warrant us investigating;
- investigation would not lead to a different outcome to the Council apology it has already provided.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman