Decision : Not upheld
Decision date : 21 Dec 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr and Mrs X complained the Council unfairly charged them for works carried out to their dropped kerb. The Council was not at fault and charged Mr and Mrs X in line with its standard procedures.
- Mr and Mrs X complain the Council unfairly charged them for work carried out to their dropped kerb. Mr and Mrs X consider the Council should refund them the £350 they paid for the works.
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 must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
- If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the information supplied by Mr and Mss X. I have considered the Council’s response to my enquiries.
- I gave Mr and Mrs X and the Council the opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision.
What I found
- The Council included Mr and Mrs X’s road in a planned footway construction programme. This included replacing previously tarmacked vehicle crossovers with concrete. The Council’s guidance states the width of a standard crossing is 2.44 metres at the back of the public footway. This increases to about 4.58 metres at the kerb line.
- The Council says it wrote to residents before the proposed works to the footway. The standard letter advised residents who did not have a standard crossover, or who wanted an extension to the existing crossover, that they could apply at a discounted fee of £350. The Council’s usual fee for a vehicle crossover is around £800 to £900.
- Mr and Mrs X have a double width entrance to their property. Prior to the works the vehicle crossover was tarmac leading to a single width dropped kerb.
- Mr X contacted the Council as he was unhappy with the way the Council had marked out the works to his crossover. He says the Council’s proposal would have meant a distinct concrete single width crossover leading into his double width driveway. Previously the whole area was tarmac with no distinct edge. Mr X says he expected the driveway to be replaced like for like with the concrete area covering the width of his driveway leading to a single width dropped kerb area.
- Mr X met with a member of Council staff who said Mr and Mrs X would need to pay for an extended dropped kerb. If they did not, and changed their mind at a later date, the fee would be over £600. Mr and Mrs X paid £350 ‘to ensure the driveway didn’t look ridiculous’. The Council installed an extended dropped kerb outside Mr and Mrs X’s property.
- Mr and Mrs X complained to the Council as they considered they should not have had to pay and had just wanted a like for like replacement. The Council said as they had agreed to the works and received an extended crossover it would not provide Mr and Mrs X with a refund.
- Mr and Mrs X had a single width dropped kerb outside their property. The Council marked out the footway in line with its standard for the construction of vehicle crossovers. Mr and Mrs X wanted the concrete area to line up with the previous tarmac. However it was not fault for the Council to mark out the proposed works in line with the standard layout.
- Mr X agreed to the works which included extending the dropped kerb. The Council charged Mr and Mrs X the discounted rate in line with its procedures. The Council is not at fault.
- I have completed the investigation. There is no evidence of fault in the way the Council charged Mr and Mrs X for works to the vehicle crossover.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman