The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about an error in a planning report. This is because we are satisfied with the Council’s issuing of a correction statement. Further investigation is unlikely to lead to a different outcome and we cannot achieve the outcome Mrs D is seeking.
- The complainant, I shall call Mrs D, complains the Council’s report on her planning application contained an error.
- She wants the incorrect report removed from the planning pages of the Council’s website and replaced with a new corrected report.
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 provide a free service but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (7), as amended)
- The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide:
- further investigation would not lead to a different outcome; or
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by the Mrs D and the Council.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- Mrs D wants the Council to remove the report containing an error from its website. The Council has confirmed it has sought legal advice and it cannot remove a document which formed part of the process leading to its refusal of a planning application. However, it confirmed it would issue a statement of correction and add this to the planning documents.
- I have checked the Council’s website and a statement correcting the error in the report is published on its website alongside all the other documents considered as part of Mrs D’s planning application. I also noted the Planning Decision does not include matters relating to the error as reasons for refusing the application.
- We will not investigate Mrs D’s complaint. We are satisfied the Council’s addition of a correcting statement to the planning file is a suitable remedy to Ms D’s complaint. Also, as the Council is acting on legal advice, it is unlikely that further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or that we can achieve the outcome Mrs D is seeking.
Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman