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South Oxfordshire District Council (20 011 756)

Category : Environment and regulation > Trees

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 16 Jun 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr A says he was unable to work for a day because the Council failed to notify him when his damaged car could be collected from a car park. The Ombudsman has discontinued the investigation because it is unlikely we would find fault or could add to previous investigation by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant (whom I refer to as Mr A) says a tree fell on his car in a Council car park. He complains an Officer failed to notify him when the tree had been cleared. As a result, he could not travel to work the next day and wants the Council to reimburse him for a day’s earnings.

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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
  • 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.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered Mr A’s complaints to the Council and its responses.
  2. I shared my draft decision with both parties.

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What I found

  1. In 2020 Mr A’s car was hit by a falling tree in a Council car park. Mr A subsequently complained to the Council that an Officer had failed to call when the car could be picked up and so he had been unable to make arrangements to get to work. He wanted the Council to pay him a day’s earnings. The Council replied in January 2021. The Officer had given Mr A his contact details. He had not called Mr A because it was evening when the tree was removed. The Council could not be directly attributed to Mr A not going to work. Mr A escalated his complaint, and the Council sent its further reply in February. It said Mr A could have made alternative arrangements to get into work or he could have called the Officer for an update.
  2. I do not see the Ombudsman can add to what the Council has already considered in this case. It is highly unlikely we would find fault and so I intend to discontinue the investigation.

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Final decision

  1. I have discontinued the investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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