Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council (23 001 970)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 04 Jun 2023

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint that the actions of the Council when it restricted his contact led to him losing the local elections. There is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complained the actions of the Council when it restricted his contact, led to him losing the local elections.
  2. He also says the Council wrongly allowed people to observe the counting of postal votes.

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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, or
  • any injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement.

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

  1. We investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies. We cannot investigate the actions of returning officers. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 25 and 34A, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. The Council placed restrictions on how Mr X could contact and communicate with it. It emailed him details of these restrictions.
  2. Around this time, Mr X submitted his nomination form for the local elections. He was not elected.
  3. Mr X later complained and said the Council’s restrictions had blocked his democratic rights to stand for election and also caused him to lose the elections. He also said they had led to him distributing his campaign leaflets late and after the postal votes had been sent to voters.
  4. The Council responded. It referenced an email it sent him explaining if he wished to attend any election events, he could contact electoral services who would make the necessary arrangements. It pointed out he had been able to submit his nomination form and attend election events.
  5. There is no evidence of fault or injustice to justify an investigation. This is because Mr X was able to stand for election and attend events. He had a point of contact in committees and electoral services to contact when required. He was asked to let this contact know if he wished to attend election events. This was the same procedure for all candidates and agents. Any matters to do with his campaign leaflets was the candidate’s or their agent’s responsibility and the Council could not and would not become involved unless there was a breach of electoral rules. The Council cannot be held responsible for the fact Mr X was not elected.
  6. Issues relating to the issuing, casting and counting of votes are the responsibility of the returning officer. Although they are usually a council officer, they are independently appointed and we do not have the authority to investigate their actions.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because there is no evidence of fault or injustice to justify an investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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