London Borough of Enfield (20 006 447)

Category : Transport and highways > COVID-19

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 08 Dec 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the Council’s decision to suspend parking enforcement by her home as it is unlikely we would find fault causing her significant injustice. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint that the Council did not publicise its decision properly as the Council has provided a suitable remedy for the issue.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, Mrs X, complains the Council suspended enforcement of residents’ parking bays and did not properly publicise its decision. She says she and her husband have not received a service they paid for and that she wasted her visitors’ scratch cards.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. This complaint involves events that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government introduced a range of new and frequently updated rules and guidance during this time. We can consider whether the council provider followed the relevant legislation, guidance and our published “Good Administrative Practice during the response to COVID-19”.
  2. 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, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or
  • the council has offered a suitable remedy.

(Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6), 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I reviewed Mrs X’s complaint and the Council’s responses. I shared my draft decision with Mrs X and considered her comments.

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What I found

  1. Between March and May 2020 the Council suspended enforcement of residential parking bays in line with government advice and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Mrs X complains the Council did not put up signs about this and only publicised the decision via its website. She pays for residents’ parking permits and complains she has not received a service (enforcement) that she pays for. She is also unhappy she used her visitors’ scratch cards when she did not need to.
  3. The Council has explained it could not erect new signs in all controlled parking zones and that its terms and conditions allow it to suspend parking facilities at any time. It believes posting information about the decision on its website was sufficient to inform all motorists of the changes but has apologised to Mrs X for the inconvenience and sent her a new book of scratch cards to replace those which she used unnecessarily.
  4. Mrs X believes she should be given longer to use the new scratch cards and that she should receive a partial refund for her resident’s permit. But it is unlikely we would find fault in the Council’s decision to suspend parking enforcement and even if we decided it was fault not to put up signs the Council has provided a suitable remedy for this.
  5. Where we find fault, if possible, we aim to put the person back in the position they would have been, had the fault not occurred. The Council has provided Mrs X with a replacement for the visitors scratch cards she used unnecessarily and Mrs X is in no worse position now than she would have been, had the Council’s enforcement continued over the period.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault by the Council causing significant unremedied injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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