London Borough of Wandsworth (21 007 832)

Category : Transport and highways > COVID-19

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 12 Oct 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about Mr X’s complaint about an Experimental Traffic Order. This is because we have not seen any evidence of fault in the Council’s introduction of the Order.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council introduced an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) closing the high street where he owns property to traffic, without any prior notice or advertisement.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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 there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (6))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the Mr X, the Council’s responses to him and the Experimental Traffic Order made by the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Councils can make an ETO using powers under sections 9 and 10 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
  2. The law does not require councils to consult before making an ETO. The purpose of such orders is to assess how a scheme will work before a council decides whether to make it permanent. The ETO order gives councils an opportunity to trial changes and then to see what people think once they are operational but before they become permanent.
  3. An ETO can only be in force for 18 months. If a council wishes to make it permanent, it must make a new order.
  4. We cannot say the Council was at fault in failing to advertise about the ETO because there was no requirement for it to do so. Nor is there any requirement on the Council to stop an experimental scheme if it receives objections to it. But it must consider any objections received within the first 6 months of the order being made, before deciding whether to make the scheme permanent. There is a legal process it must follow at that stage. This will give the public a formal opportunity to make their objections to the Council if they wish to do so.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because there is not enough evidence of fault in the way the Council introduced the ETO to warrant an investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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