Staffordshire County Council (18 008 536)

Category : Transport and highways > Other

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 13 Dec 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr B complains the Council will not lower the kerb directly outside his home. Mr B says he needs the pavement lowered to allow ambulance access. The Ombudsman does not find fault. If Mr B believes the Council did not follow its duties under the Equality Act (2010) he can take the matter to County Court or raise it with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The complaint

  1. Mr B complains the Council would not lower the kerb directly outside his home.

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What I have investigated

  1. I have investigated the Council’s decision not to install a dropped kerb.
  2. I have not investigated whether the Council fulfilled its responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. The final section of this statement contains my reason(s) for not investigating the rest of the complaint.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. 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)
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
  3. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered:
    • Mr B’s complaint and the information he provided.
    • Documents supplied by the Council.
    • Relevant legislation and guidelines.
    • The Council’s policies and procedures.
    • The Council and Mr B’s comments on a draft decision.

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What I found

  1. A dropped kerb is where a kerb is lowered and the footway or verge is strengthened.
  2. Section 20 of the Equality Act (2010) places a duty on the Council to:
    • Where a physical feature puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage (Equality Act 2010 s.20 (4)).
  3. Compliance with the duty may involve:
    • removing the physical feature in question,
    • altering it, or
    • providing a reasonable means of avoiding it (Equality Act 2010 s.20 (9)).
  4. The County Court has jurisdiction to determine a claim relating to a contravention of Part 3 (services and public functions) of the Equality Act 2010 (Equality Act 2010 s.114 (1)).
  5. The Equality and Human Rights Commission enforces equality legislation.

What happened

  1. This is a summary of key events and does not include details of everything that happened:
  2. Mr B has medical needs that have required ambulances to attend his home on multiple occasions. Mr B says ambulance crew find it difficult to get a stretcher out of Mr B’s home and into the ambulance. Mr B believes having a dropped kerb directly outside his property would make it easier for the ambulance crew.
  3. Mr B lives in property C. Outside his home is a disabled parking bay and there is a dropped kerb outside property D, which is next to property C.
  4. In 2015, Mr B asked the Council to drop the kerb outside his home to allow ambulance crews to collect him from his home. The Council decided it was not possible to lower the curb directly outside his home, property C, because the pavement was not wide enough. The Council lowered the curb outside property D which is around 6.5 metres away from Mr B’s front door.
  5. The Council says that providing a dropped kerb immediately outside property C could only be achieved by reducing the width of the road to widen the pavement. To widen the pavement, the Council would need to consult residents as reducing the width of the road would reduce parking provision along the street. The Council said that widening the pavement would likely involve the removal of the Disabled Parking Bay.
  6. In 2017 Mr B asked the Council for a second time to lower the kerb outside his home. The Council declined the request. The Council said it had provided a dropped kerb outside property D and would be unable to fund another dropped kerb.
  7. Mr B asked for a dropped kerb again in May 2018. Mr B says ambulance crew cannot use the existing dropped kerb because of the angle between it and his front door. The Council declined Mr B’s application. The Council said it could not drop the kerb directly outside Mr B’s home because the pavement was too narrow and it could create an obstruction for other pedestrians. The Council added it would be unable to fund the installation of another dropped kerb.

Analysis

  1. The Council has considered Mr B’s request for a dropped kerb outside his property and assessed its feasibility. The Council decided the pavement outside Mr B’s property was too narrow for a dropped kerb. The Council installed a dropped kerb where it considered to be the nearest suitable location to Mr B’s property. The Council provided reasons for its decisions and demonstrated it properly considered and responded to Mr B’s request.
  2. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong if there was no fault in the way the decision was reached.

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Final decision

  1. I found no fault on behalf of the Council.

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Parts of the complaint that I did not investigate

  1. I have not investigated whether the Council fulfilled its responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. If Mr B believes the Council has not followed its duties under the Equality Act (2010) he can take the matter to County Court or raise it with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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