Eden District Council (21 018 238)

Category : Other Categories > Councillor conduct and standards

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 29 Mar 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s failure to follow its complaints procedure. The substantive issue at the heart of the complaint was decided in court.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, I shall call Mr X, says the Council failed to follow correct complaint procedure. He says the Council did not contact him for further information and did not keep him updated.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure,’ which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice.’ We provide a free service but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if the tests set out in our Assessment Code are not met. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. The Courts have said that we cannot investigate a complaint about any action by a council, concerning a matter which is itself out of our jurisdiction. (R (on the application of M) v Commissioner for Local Administration [2006] EHWCC 2847 (Admin))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Mr X and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Mr X complained a Council Officer lied and misled an investigation carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
  2. The Council refused to consider the complaint because it concerned evidence given under oath in Court.
  3. Mr X says his complaints concerns an email sent after the court case and the Officer has misled the IOPC investigator.
  4. I do not consider we should consider this complaint as we cannot look at the substantive matter considered by the Magistrates Court or the IOPC.
  5. It is not a good use of public resources to investigate complaints about complaint procedures, if we cannot deal with the substantive issue.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate ’s complaint because we will not usually look solely at the way the Council dealt with a complaint. This is because we do not consider there can be sufficient injustice to the complainant as a result of any failings in the complaints process alone to warrant our involvement.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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