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Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council (19 015 928)

Category : Planning > Building control

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 17 Feb 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains that the Council’s advice about a wall of a church is inconsistent with other expert advice received. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint because there is no significant personal injustice caused by the alleged fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains that the Council’s advice about a wall of a church is inconsistent with other expert advice received.

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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 the comments of the complainant and the Council and the complainant has had an opportunity to comment on the draft decision.,

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What I found

  1. Mr X used to represent a church which owns a listed building which has a wall which, he believes, needs structural repair. He says that English Heritage considered in 2005 that a wall which forms part of the building needed scaffolding support.
  2. Mr X says that the Council’s Building inspector visited in 2018 and 2019 and considered that, whilst the wall would need some repair work, it was not a dangerous structure under the terms of the Building Act and so no order would be required to carry out immediate repairs.
  3. Mr X says that English Heritage now considers the wall to be dangerous which conflicts with the Council’s view.
  4. If the Council considered the wall to be dangerous it would have to serve a notice on the church to repair the wall. I appreciate that he feels a moral responsibility to ensure the safety of the wall (although he is no longer a church representative), but there is no injustice to him by the Council’s view that this was not appropriate. If the church believes the wall requires more work it can carry out the work (with Listed Building Consent). The Council is not preventing it from doing this.
  5. I am not persuaded therefore that any injustice has been caused to Mr X to warrant investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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