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 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’.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- 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.
What I found
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman