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Copeland Borough Council (19 011 554)

Category : Planning > Building control

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 11 Feb 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr C complains the Council has not properly exercised its building control functions. The Ombudsman has not investigated Mr C’s complaint further, because it is unlikely that he would find fault and Mr C has not suffered significant personal injustice.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr C, complains the Council has not properly exercised its building control functions because:
    • it has applied different standards to different people.
    • it has made excessive demands on his company because he questioned the Council’s competency.

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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.

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

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I spoke to Mr C and considered the details of his complaint. I reviewed documents sent by Mr C and information provided by the Council.
  2. I gave the Council and Mr C the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr C has taken over the development of a building site. As part of the building control process, issues have arisen regarding the installation of metal wall ties.
  2. The Council has negotiated informally with Mr C about these issues.
  3. Mr C has provided information from a structural engineer and the Council has sought the opinion of an independent engineer. The professional opinions of the engineers do not entirely agree.
  4. The Council has stated to Mr C the work that it considered necessary to comply with building regulations. Mr C has now agreed to undertake this work but has not completed it yet.
  5. The Council has not started any enforcement action against Mr C. Mr C says if it does so, he has evidence to show compliance with building regulations. The Ombudsman will not normally investigate decisions where there is a right of appeal. We would expect the complainant to appeal and would not normally investigate these matters.

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Final decision

  1. I have not investigated Mr C’s complaint further because it would be unlikely that the Ombudsman would find fault. Mr C has also suffered no personal injustice because he has agreed to complete the work requested by the Council and the Council has not taken any enforcement action against him. I have now discontinued my investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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