Isle of Wight Council (19 014 359)

Category : Other Categories > Leisure and culture

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 27 Aug 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr B complains the Council allowed an events company to erect a marquee in front of holiday apartments he owns and lets. Mr B says the marquee blocked the view from the holiday apartments and affected his ability to let them, resulting in financial loss. The Ombudsman has completed its investigation and found no evidence of fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. Mr B complains the Council allowed an events company to erect a marquee in front of holiday apartments he owns and lets. Mr B says the marquee blocked the view from the holiday apartments and affected his ability to let them, resulting in financial loss.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  2. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  3. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered:
    • Mr B’s complaint and the information he provided;
    • documents supplied by the Council;
    • relevant legislation and guidelines; and
    • the Council’s policies and procedures.
  2. Mr B and the Council had the opportunity to comment on a draft decision.

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What I found

Legislation and Guidance

  1. I have set out below some key points from the Isle of Wight Council Licencing Act statement of policy, 2019.
  2. The Act requires organisers of events to give it at least four months’ notice of the event if it is expected that more than 5,000 people will attend.
  3. The organisers of the event must give notice in writing to the Licensing Department and should include:
    • Purpose of the intended event e.g. music festival.
    • Day(s) on which the intended event will be held.
    • Duration of the intended event.
    • Time(s) during which the intended event will be held.
    • Location and limits of the site where the intended event is to be held.
    • Maximum number of people attending the intended event.
    • Copy of an event safety plan or operating schedule.
    • Plan of the site.
  4. The organisers must also make a highway amenity application if objects are going to be placed on a highway. This application must be received by the Council at least two months and not more than six months prior to the date of the event.
  5. If valid representations are received during a consultation period and remain outstanding once the consultation has ended, then a meeting of the Licensing Sub Committee must be convened to determine the application.

What happened

  1. This chronology includes key events in this case and does not cover everything that happened.
  2. Mr B owns a set of holiday apartments which he lets out. These apartments have a sea view.
  3. In July 2018, the Council had informal discussions with an events company about holding an international sports event on the Island in 2019. The Council received a formal request from the company in September 2018.
  4. Officers and elected members considered the request and it was approved by the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Business Development. The Council decided the event would benefit the local economy and was an ideal opportunity to promote the Island. The event was agreed in principle by the Council in October 2018.
  5. In December 2018, the company contacted Mr B to ask if it could let his apartments during the event. Mr B asked the company for information about the marquee it planned to erect in front of his apartments. The events company responded to Mr B in August 2019 and said it would be 15m wide, 40m long and double storey.
  6. The Council’s safety advisory group for the event met in May and July 2019 to discuss the event and safety planning.
  7. The Council held consultations about whether to grant a premises licence and give consent for street trading for the event for a month between May and June 2019. The consultations were published in the local newspaper and displayed at the proposed event site. The Council provided information about the proposed event and details of how to make representations. The Council noted there were no outstanding objections at the end of the consultation.
  8. After the consultation period had ended, the Council signed a land hire agreement for the event with the company. Within the land hire agreement, the Council required the events company to undertake all local resident liaison in connection with the Permitted Use.
  9. The Council granted the events company a premise licence and gave consent for street trading in July 2019. It also issued traffic orders for the event and published them in the local newspaper. The orders allowed for the road where Mr B’s apartments were located to become one-way and for parking to be restricted during the event.
  10. In July 2019, the events company wrote to residents affected by the event, including Mr B. The letter gave information about the event. The company asked anyone who had accommodation to rent during the event to get in touch. The company also held a meeting for residents to raise any concerns they had about the event. In August 2019, the company wrote to residents with details of the event de-rig and dismantle plan.
  11. The events company erected a marquee in front of Mr B’s apartments for two weeks and three days. The marquee was 15m wide, 40m long and 12m high.
  12. The events company contacted Mr B in August 2019, it provided information about the size of the marquee and asked to book all his holiday apartments. Mr B contacted the Council the same day to make a complaint. He told the Council he could not rent out his apartments because the marquee blocked the sea view and asked for compensation. He said the Council asked him in December 2018 if he was happy for a marquee to be erected in front of his apartments and he asked for it to be located elsewhere. He complained that people who had booked his apartments were expecting compensation because their view was blocked.
  13. The Council responded to Mr B at stage one of the complaint procedure. It explained the event was not a joint venture between the Council and the events company and advised the Council had allowed the company to hire land. The Council explained it consulted residents about the licencing application between May and June 2019 publishing information in a local newspaper and around the area where the event took place. The Council advised it did not receive any objections to the application and that without these it was difficult to make changes to the event. The Council asked Mr B who he had raised his concerns with so it could investigate further. The Council said it could not offer him compensation.
  14. Mr B challenged the Council and said he believed it had agreed the event could go ahead in 2018 before the consultation had taken place. He said a Council employee had previously said if future events were to take place, the Council would impose stricter criteria on any marquees erected in front of his holiday apartments. He told the Council placing the marquee in front of his apartments had damaged his business and he wanted compensation.
  15. The Council wrote to Mr B in September 2019. The Council highlighted that it was in 2012 when a Council officer said if a marquee was to be erected in front of his apartments in the future stricter criteria would be imposed, and no one from that time was involved in the 2019 land hire agreement. It reiterated that it did not receive any objections during the 2019 consultation and advised the land hire agreement was not finalised until late spring 2019. It asked Mr B again for details of whom he spoke to about moving the marquee to a different site in 2018.
  16. Mr B told the Council he did not receive advance notice of the event. He gave the Council details of whom from the Council had agreed to impose stricter criteria if a marquee were erected in front of his apartments and said this included that marquees would be single storey in height.
  17. The Council responded to Mr B at stage two of its complaint procedure in October 2019. The Council explained it had to weigh up the impact of hosting the event on individuals with the benefits for the local economy. It advised that if events were held in future, it would require event organisers to contact residents with details of the event in advance.
  18. Mr B replied to the Council in October and November 2019. He said a marquee was erected in front of his apartments on two occasions blocking the sea view. He advised that because of this, his apartments had been left empty and people who did stay asked for compensation. He complained that the Council did not give him advance warning about the location of the marquee, and it had caused four week’s disruption. Mr B told the Council there were better places to locate the marquee.

Analysis

  1. There was no fault with the Council’s decision to allow the events company to hire land. The Council weighed up the impact of hosting the event on individuals with the benefits for the local economy and decided the benefits outweighed the impact on individuals. This is a decision the Council was entitled to make. I have not seen any evidence of fault in how this decision was reached and so I cannot question its merits.
  2. The Council ensured permissions were in place for the event:
    • The Council consulted residents prior to issuing a premise licence and giving consent for street trading. There were no outstanding objections at the end of the consultation. Therefore, there was no reason for the Council not to grant a licence and give permission for street trading.
    • The Council issued traffic orders for the event and published them in the local newspaper.
  3. Mr B had the opportunity to raise his concerns formally during the Council’s consultations. Mr B says he was not informed about these. The Council published information about the consultations in the local newspaper and displayed information at the proposed event site. There was no fault in how the Council undertook the consultations or its decision to grant a premise licence or give consent for street trading.
  4. It was seven years between the Council saying stricter conditions would be imposed if a marquee was erected in front of Mr B’s properties and this event. Given the time that had passed, the Council’s policies, guidance and priorities could have changed. The Council could not be held to a decision it made seven years earlier about the erection of marquees.
  5. I cannot question the actions of the events company because it was not acting on behalf of the Council and is therefore out of our jurisdiction.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman has completed its investigation and found no evidence of fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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