London Borough of Hounslow (19 018 870)

Category : Transport and highways > Highway repair and maintenance

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 31 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s decision to carry out overnight road resurfacing works along the complainant’s road. There is insufficient evidence of fault in the way the Council reached its decision.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr B, says the Council should not have carried out non-essential, non-emergency resurfacing roadworks during the night. He says the works caused considerable inconvenience, sleepless nights and meant he had to move out of his home.

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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. We 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.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

  1. When considering alleged faults, we cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered:
    • Mr B’s complaint to the Ombudsman;
    • The Council’s complaint responses dated 21 October 2019, 6 November 2019, and 20 December 2019.
  2. I also gave Mr B the opportunity to comment on a draft version of this statement.

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What I found

  1. I appreciate Mr B disagrees with the Council’s decision to undertake the roadworks at night. But the Ombudsman cannot question that decision unless there is evidence of administrative fault in the way it was made.
  2. I find there is insufficient evidence of fault in the way the Council made its decision to warrant the Ombudsman pursuing the matter further.
  3. In reaching this view, I particularly mindful that the law does not require a highway authority to consult with residents over resurfacing repairs. Furthermore, the Council has explained that whilst it would have ideally carried out the works during the day, Transport for London (who have responsibility for traffic management on the adjoining A406) would not allow this. Instead, it authorised a night-time lane closure, partly in order to minimise disruption and movement of traffic on the A406. The Council explained the lane closure on the A406 was necessary to ensure the works and the manoeuvring of large vehicles was conducted legally and safely.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr B’s complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault in the way the Council reached its decision to carry out night-time roadworks.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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