North Lincolnshire Council (21 018 661)

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 how the Council’s Monitoring Officer dealt with a complaint about the conduct of a councillor. This is because we are unlikely to find fault.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr X, has complained about the behaviour of a local councillor. He says he contacted the councillor to raise serious concerns, but his complaint was ignored.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating.

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

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How I considered this complaint

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

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My assessment

  1. Local Authorities have a duty to designate a Monitoring Officer to ensure the lawfulness and fairness of authority decision making. The Monitoring Officer must ensure that the authority, its officers and members maintain the highest standards of conduct. Each council has different rules for dealing with complaints about code of conduct breaches.
  2. The Ombudsman does not provide an appeal against the Monitoring Officer’s decision. We can only look at how the complaint was considered. We are also unable to investigate or comment on the actions of the councillor complained about.
  3. In this case, the Monitoring Officer decided not to take any further action as they did not consider the councillor had breached the member’s code of conduct. I understand Mr X may disagree, but this was a decision the Monitoring Officer was entitled to make. As the Monitoring Officer dealt with Mr X’s concerns in line with the Council’s criteria for code of conduct complaints, it is unlikely I could find fault.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X ’s complaint because we are unlikely to find fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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