Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 30 Mar 2020
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about a penalty charge notice for a parking contravention. The complainant had a right of appeal to a tribunal and the Ombudsman is unlikely to find other fault caused significant injustice.
- The complainant, who I refer to here as Mr B, has complained the Council issued a penalty charge notice for an alleged parking contravention.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone can appeal to a tribunal. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to appeal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
- 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’.
- We provide a free service but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if, for example, we believe any injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered what Mr B said in his complaint and discussed it with him.
What I found
- The Council enforces the parking restriction and taking recovery action using procedures set out in the Traffic Management Act 2004 and associated Regulations. Councils and motorists must follow these procedures although councils have discretion to stop enforcement or recovery action if they believe there are good reasons to do so.
- The Council issued a penalty charge notice because it believed Mr B had not paid the required parking fee. Mr B says he produced evidence he had properly paid by phone and so the Council issued the penalty charge notice in error.
- Mr B had a right of appeal against the penalty charge notice to London Tribunals which is a statutory tribunal. An appeal to London Tribunals is free and relatively easy to use. It is also the way in which Parliament expects people to challenge a penalty charge notice. For these reasons, the restriction I describe in paragraph 2 generally applies.
- Since Mr B complained to us, the Council has decided to cancel the penalty charge notice. Mr B says the Council should have done this immediately he contacted it.
- I have decided we will not investigate this complaint. This is because Mr B had a right of appeal against the penalty charge notice and we are unlikely to find other fault by the Council caused him significant injustice.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman