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Staffordshire County Council (19 020 198)

Category : Transport and highways > Highway repair and maintenance

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 18 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains the Council has failed to resolve the problem of flooding on the highway outside his house. And failed to respond to his complaints. We do not intend to investigate this complaint as we are satisfied with the action the Council proposes to take to reduce the flooding. We do not consider an investigation of the failures in the complaints procedure alone to be a good use of our resources.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I shall call Mr X, says the Council delayed in responding to his request to clear a blocked drain outside his house. He says passing traffic sprays water against his garden wall which he had to repair.
  2. He also says the blockage causes flooding across a tactile pedestrian crossing area which is a health and safety hazard.
  3. Mr X wants the Council to adjust the road camber, so water channels along the drain. He also wants it to respond to complaints on time.

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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 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mr X and the Council
  2. Mr X commented on the draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X contacted the Council reporting the gulley in the road outside his home was blocked. This was causing flooding on the road surface. Passing traffic caused the standing water to spray over his wall. He says he had to have the wall repointed.
  2. He also says the water spray and flooding adversely affects pedestrians using the tactile crossing area.
  3. The Council told him its records showed the gulley is cleaned yearly and the operators were satisfied with water flow following the cleaning. Mr X disputed this. He also told the Council the gulley cleaning does not occur as scheduled. And it would not solve the problem of flooding as the road camber was preventing the flow of water.
  4. The Council wrote to Mr X advising the issue was not a priority and officers would contact him within a week. No one contacted Mr X.
  5. In response to my enquiries the Council has now contacted Mr X. It has apologised for the delay in contacting him. It has also confirmed work to reprofile to road has been scheduled. If it receives the necessary permits and providing there are no unforeseen emergencies, the work should take place within three to four weeks.
  6. We may decide not to start an investigation if we are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. In this case the Council has confirmed it will reprofile the road to prevent the flooding outside Mr X’s home. I am satisfied with this proposed action and it should achieve the outcome Mr X is seeking.
  7. Mr X has been in contact with the Council for a couple of years about this matter. The Council has failed to respond to Mr X’s complaints according to its complaint procedure. This is fault. However, while we would expect the Council to respond according to its complaints policy, I do not propose to investigate this issue further.
  8. We do not consider it a good use of public resources to investigate complaints about complaint procedures, if we are not dealing with the substantive issue.

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Final decision

  1. I will not investigate this complaint.
  2. The Council has not responded to Mr X according to the timescales in its complaint procedure. However, it is now taking action to resolve the problem of flooding. I consider it would not be a good use of our resources to investigate this matter further as the substantive issue should now be resolved.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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