Norwich City Council (20 011 674)

Category : Other Categories > Leisure and culture

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s failure to ensure that neighbouring allotment plots were kept free of weeds which seeded onto his own plot. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of injustice which would warrant an investigation.

The complaint

  1. Mr X says the allotment plot which he rents from the Council has been affected by neighbouring plots which are vacant or unattended by their tenants. He wants the council to maintain the vacant plot to prevent it affecting his own. He wants the Council to ensure that other tenants follow the allotment rules to keep their plots free from problems to neighbouring tenants.

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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’. 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, or
  • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
  • the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement.

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

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered all the information which Mr X submitted with his complaint. Mr X has been given an opportunity to comment on a draft copy of my decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X has rented an allotment from the Council for many years. Since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a neighbouring plot has become overgrown, and the weeds have seeded onto his plot. He complained to the Council and it responded to his complaints saying that under the current pandemic restrictions it was unable to use any resources to maintain the vacant plot. There had been interest in renting the plot but this has fallen through during the restrictions.
  2. Mr X complained about the untidy state of a tenanted plot near his own. The Council says the tenant has had personal problems in attending the site during the pandemic and it has not issued any weeding or cultivation notices this year because of the exceptional situation.
  3. We are obliged by law to consider not only any fault which a complainant has alleged, but also the injustice caused to them as a direct consequence of that failure. In this case the injustice caused to Mr X is insufficient to warrant an investigation.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of injustice which would warrant an investigation.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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