Wychavon District Council (23 006 774)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Sep 2023

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about a decision to relocate the complainant’s parish polling station, because the Electoral Commission is best placed to consider the matter, and we will not pursue any associated concerns about the complaint process in isolation.

The complaint

  1. Mr X says false information was presented at a meeting where a decision was made to relocate his parish polling station, and the Council has failed to adequately respond to his subsequent complaint.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate 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 continue an investigation if we decide:
  • any injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
  • there is another body better placed to consider this complaint.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended, section 34(B))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Mr X and the Council, which included their complaint correspondence.
  2. I also considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. The law says the Council is responsible for dividing its area into polling districts, creating polling places, and reviewing the arrangements from time to time. It also says if not less than 30 electors complain to the Electoral Commission about the Council not meeting the requirements of electors in the area, the Commission shall consider the complaint and may direct any changes it considers necessary. (Representation of the People Act 1983, section 18(5))
  2. I recognise only Mr X has complained to us about this matter, but the law presumes an individual complaint is not significant enough to warrant any intervention. As Mr X confirms he was able to cast a postal vote he has not suffered significant personal injustice from the polling place arrangements. We therefore have no reason to decide we are better placed to consider the matter than the Electoral Commission, the body authorised by law to do so.
  3. We do not investigate the way a council handles complaints and correspondence about a matter if we are not investigating the matter itself. It is not a good use of public money to do so.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because the Electoral Commission is authorised, and therefore best placed to consider how a council decides on the polling districts and places in its area, and we will not look at the Council’s complaint process in isolation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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