London Borough of Lewisham (17 000 056)

Category : Environment and regulation > Trading standards

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 24 Aug 2017

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council was not at fault for refusing to investigate Mr B’s trading standards complaint about a double glazing company. Neither Mr B nor the company are located within the Council area. However, the Council was at fault for delays in responding to Mr B’s queries, and for not responding to a complaint about the delays. It has now responded to Mr B and has apologised, so his injustice has been remedied.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr B, complains that the Council’s trading standards department did not take action against a double glazing company, about which he had raised concerns. He also says the Council delayed answering his queries and did not respond to a complaint he made about the Council.

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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. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mr B and the Council. I wrote to Mr B and the Council with my draft decision and gave them an opportunity to comment.

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What I found

  1. Mr B emailed the Council on 8 September 2015 and made a complaint about a double glazing company. He said it was operating in the Council area. He asked for advice on what action could be taken against the company.
  2. On 29 September the Council emailed Mr B and asked him for relevant paperwork and his address. He provided this on 2 October.
  3. On 30 November Mr B emailed the Council again, and said he had provided the requested information but had received no response. He did the same on 21 December, but still received no response from the Council.
  4. On 19 January 2016 Mr wrote to the Council again to complain about the lack of responses he received from the trading standards department.
  5. On 9 February the Council responded and said that, as Mr B lived outside the Council area, it would not be able to deal with his trading standards issue. It provided an address to which Mr B could write if he wanted to submit a formal complaint.
  6. On 25 February Mr B submitted a formal complaint, and said the company was operating in the Council area, even if he did not live there. He received no response from the Council.
  7. In response to my enquiries, the Council accepted that it did not provide proper responses to Mr B. It said this was because of a departmental restructure within the Council which affected the trading standards department. It also said that the double glazing company was registered outside the Council area, so not only could it not look into Mr B’s concerns, they could not be logged onto its database.
  8. As both Mr B and the double glazing company are located outside the Council area, the Council was correct to not look into his concerns. However, it has acknowledged that it failed to properly tell Mr B about this at the time, and it has written a letter to him, explaining its decision and apologising for the long delay. As a result, I consider Mr B’s injustice to have been remedied.

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Final decision

  1. The Council was not at fault for refusing to investigate Mr B’s trading standards complaint about a double glazing company. Neither Mr B nor the company are located within the Council area. However, the Council was at fault for delays in responding to Mr B’s queries, and for not responding to a complaint about the delays. It has now responded to Mr B and has apologised, so his injustice has been remedied.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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