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Birmingham City Council (18 001 388)

Category : Other Categories > Councillor conduct and standards

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 08 Jun 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the conduct of two councillors at a licensing sub committee. There is no injustice to Mr X or the company he represents arising from the conduct or how the Council considered the matter. The licensing decision cannot be investigated due to the right of appeal to the Magistrates Court, which I understand was used.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains on behalf of a company that the Council failed to investigate properly, under its code of conduct, the actions of two councillors at a licensing sub committee meeting. Mr X says he wants a proper investigation of the councillors conduct.
  2. Mr X complains that the Council’s sub committee decision to refuse a licence caused the company significant revenue loss.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has appealed to a tribunal or a government minister or started court action about the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6), as amended)
  3. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered Mr X’s comments and the Council’s code of conduct report on the two councillors.

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What I found

  1. The Council’s report says that councillor A attended the subcommittee in a private capacity. The councillor did not give the impression that he was acting in his official capacity and the minutes recorded why he was there. There was no breach of the code of conduct for members. It says there was no conflict of interest between councillor A or councillor B. There was no breach of the code by councillor B.
  2. In 2017, the Council’s licensing sub committee refused the company a licence. There is a right of appeal against the decision to the Magistrates Court. The report says that the company appealed the decision. It says a licence was granted by agreement with the parties.

Analysis

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
      1. There is no evidence that the councillors caused the company injustice which is separate from the decision of the licensing sub committee to refuse the licence.
      2. It would not be a good use of limited public resources to investigate this complaint.
      3. The Ombudsman cannot investigate the Council’s decision on the licence or anything relating to it because the company used its right of appeal (see paragraph 4).

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the conduct of two councillors at a licensing sub committee. There is no injustice to Mr X or the company he represents arising from the conduct or how the Council considered the matter. The licensing decision cannot be investigated due to the right of appeal to the Magistrates Court, which I understand was used.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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