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Bath and North East Somerset Council (20 011 313)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Ms X complains about election fraud in the May 2019 local elections in which she stood. Ms X has expended time and trouble trying to get her complaint heard. We are unable to investigate as the organisation of elections is not an administrative function of the Council and is not therefore within our legal remit.

The complaint

  1. Ms X complains about election fraud in the May 2019 local elections in which she stood. Ms X has expended time and trouble trying to get her complaint heard.

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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)
  3. Returning Officers for elections act in their own capacity, not as officers of a local authority. (Representation of the People Act 1983, sections 23(2))
  4. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Ms X said in her complaint and sent her my draft decision for her comments.

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What I found

  1. Ms X complains that officers of the Council knowingly allowed election fraud to take place in the May 2019 local elections. Ms X stood in the election and has expended time and trouble trying to get her complaint heard.
  2. Ms X wants Council officers to be subjected to disciplinary procedures and for the councillor in question to face professional misconduct in office charges.

Analysis

  1. Returning Officers organise elections and in so doing, work in a personal capacity, not on behalf of the Council. We have no legal remit to investigate the actions of Returning Officers or the organisation of elections.
  2. We have no remit to become involved in internal disciplinary matters at the Council.
  3. Misconduct in a public office is a matter for the police, as is fraud.
  4. Ms X’s complaint is also made late to us as she has not complained to us within a year of her knowing about the problem.
  5. For these reasons, we cannot investigate.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate Ms X’s complaint as we have no legal remit to investigate the organisation of elections.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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