Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 01 Mar 2017
The Ombudsman's final decision:
- Mr X complains that a public car park near his home has been closed and the owner has now applied to build homes on it. He says the Council is aware of the congestion in the area caused by parking in nearby residential streets including his own and this will make the situation worse. He says the Council should ensure a more suitable development is built which will provide housing and alleviate the problem.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information provided by Mr X which includes the Council’s responses to his complaint. He had the opportunity to comment on the draft version of this decision.
What I found
- In February 2015 a public car park near to Mr X’s home closed. Mr X complained to the Council saying it was necessary as parking in the surrounding area is scarce. He said the closure will make problems with congested residential roads and illegal parking worse.
- The Council responded to him. It confirmed while it used to own the car park, the ownership was transferred to a local housing association as part of the large scale voluntary transfer of the Council’s housing stock in 2006.
- The Council said that it was aware of the parking issues in the area. It was working with the owner to find a mutually solution but ultimately it was a decision for the land owner to make.
- Mr X was aware of the car park closure in February 2015. The Council told him to approach the Ombudsman in November 2015 but he has not done so until now. Therefore the complaint is late. The Ombudsman normally expects a complaint to be made to him within a year of someone becoming aware of the events complained of, unless there were exceptional reasons for the delay.
- Mr X says he did not complain sooner because he says he did not know why the car park was closed and was waiting to see if the matter was resolved. I do not consider this to be an exceptional reason for the delay making his complaint.
- We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault.
- The Council has confirmed it is not the owner of the car park site. Therefore it has no rights over the land and cannot instruct the owner to reopen the car park.
- The planning application is currently being processed and the Council has not yet made a decision on it.
The Council does not own the car park site and therefore cannot reopen it. It is processing a planning application for the site but has not made a decision yet. It is unlikely we will find fault in the Councils actions. Also I have not seen any exceptional reasons to exercise discretion and investigate this late complaint.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman