The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mrs X complained about the delay in the Council regenerating her area and the way it responded to her complaint.
She said the Council’s failure to invest in her area caused her and husband stress and financial loss. The Council has investigated Mrs X’s complaint and it is unlikely further investigation would lead to the desired outcome for Mrs X. Therefore, we have discontinued our investigation.
- Mrs X complained the Council announced plans to regenerate her area but delayed carrying this out for several years. She was also unhappy with the way the Council responded to her complaint.
- She said the Council’s failure to act on its plans caused the value of her house to decrease and had a detrimental effect on her and her husband’s mental health.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 further investigation will lead to a different outcome
- It is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council or,
- We cannot achieve the outcome someone wants. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I contacted Mrs X and discussed her and her husband’s view of the complaint.
- I considered the Council’s complaint correspondence with Mrs X.
- I have written to Mrs X and the Council. I considered their comments before making a final decision.
What I found
- The Council worked with a private sector organisation to secure funding for a regeneration scheme in Mrs X’s area in 2012. The Council proposed to carry out the regeneration in phases.
- The Council has confirmed phase 1 is complete and it is in the process of implementing phase 2. Mrs X’s home is part of phase 2. A private sector organisation is the developer and project manager for the scheme.
- Mrs X complained to the Council in 2017 regarding the lack of regeneration which had taken place in her area. She raised a further complaint in November 2018, because the Council had delayed carrying out improvements and she had not received any updates. She said the lack of development in her area had negatively affected the value of her home.
- The Council has confirmed it did not reply to this complaint, prompting Mrs X to contact the Council again in November 2018. The Council responded, confirming phase 1 of the regeneration work was complete and phase 2 would start in early 2019.
- The Council said the regeneration scheme had been delayed. The Council explained most of the investment for the scheme came from the private sector and therefore the pace of the scheme was being dictated by the developer.
- The Council said properties would continue to be refurbished. It was not responsible for house prices.
- Mrs X continued to complain to the Council and the Council issued a final response in June 2019 maintaining its position.
- Mrs X was unhappy with this response and referred her complaint to the Ombudsman.
- In its response to Mrs X’s complaint the Council explained its role in the regeneration scheme and why it was taking time. The Council is not required by law or its own process to secure or divert funding towards regeneration within a specific timeframe.
- Mrs X wants the Council to compensate her for loss of value to her home. Further investigation could not say, even on a balance of probabilities, whether the Council’s actions have directly led to loss of value. Therefore, I cannot achieve Mrs X’s desired outcome and will not investigate her complaint.
- There is some evidence of delay in the Council’s response to Mrs X’s complaint.
It has apologised. It is unlikely further investigation would lead to a different outcome given the limited injustice likely to have been suffered.
- We cannot achieve a desirable outcome for Mrs X and so we have discontinued the investigation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman