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Havant Borough Council (20 005 923)

Category : Transport and highways > Highway repair and maintenance

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 01 Apr 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Ms Y complains about the Council’s response to her claim for damage caused to her car while using one of its car parks. The Ombudsman has discontinued the investigation into the complaint because we consider it is reasonable for Ms Y to use the available legal remedy.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I am calling Ms Y, complains about the Council’s response to her claim for damage caused to her car while using one of its car parks.

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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. 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)
  2. We have the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have spoken to Ms Y and considered all the information she and the Council have provided about the complaint.
  2. I invited Ms Y and the Council to comment on a draft version of this decision. I considered their comments before making my final decision.

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What I found

What happened

  1. In August 2019, Ms Y’s car was damaged by a post while she was using a car park operated by the Council. She considered the damage was caused by the Council’s failure to maintain the posts properly and made a claim for the cost of repairs to her car. The Council referred the claim to its insurers.
  2. The insurers told Ms Y in November 2019 they did not accept there had been any negligence or breach of duty by the Council and denied liability for the damage.
  3. Ms Y contacted the Council again in June 2020. She had noted the post had been removed on a recent visit to the car park. She believed this was because the Council now accepted it caused a problem for car park users. She asked the Council to reinvestigate her claim.
  4. The Council replied in August 2020. It said it had found no evidence it had instructed its contractors to remove the post.
  5. Ms Y was unhappy with the Council’s response and complained to us in October 2020.

Analysis

  1. The question of whether the Council is liable for the damage to Ms Y’s car is a legal matter. Ms Y may bring court action against the Council to determine liability. I consider it is reasonable for Ms Y to use the legal remedy available to her to pursue her claim.

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Final decision

  1. I have discontinued my investigation because Ms Y has a legal remedy available to her which I consider it is reasonable for her to use.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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