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London Borough of Barking & Dagenham (20 000 589)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 09 Jul 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint about a recent election in which he stood as a candidate. This is because elections are the responsibility of the Returning Officer. This is not an administrative function of the Council and is therefore outside our jurisdiction.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about a recent election in which he stood as a candidate. Mr X says the Council’s failings meant the election was not ‘democratic’.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint where the body complained about is not responsible for the issue being raised. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(1), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered Mr X’s complaint to the Ombudsman and the information he provided. I also gave Mr X the opportunity to comment on a draft statement before reaching a final decision on his complaint.

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What I found

  1. Mr X recently stood as a candidate in an election. Mr X complains he did not receive a list of postal voters, and that the Council did not tell him he was entitled to have one of his leaflets delivered free of charge. Mr X says this meant the election was not democratic. Mr X would like the election to be held again and compensation for the money he spent and his time and trouble.
  2. Elections are operated under the authority of a Returning Officer. In this role, the Returning Officer works independently and in a personal capacity - not on behalf of the Council. The Ombudsman therefore has no legal jurisdiction to investigate complaints about the way elections are managed.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint. This is because elections are the responsibility of a Returning Officer. This is not an administrative function of the Council and is therefore outside our jurisdiction.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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