Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 24 Mar 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about a Penalty Charge Notice because the Council has cancelled it.
- The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr X, complained the Council was continuing to pursue him for a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) he had paid.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 the issue has been resolved. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I read the complaint and the Council’s response. I invited Mr X to comment on a draft of this decision.
What I found
- Mr X paid for a PCN within a few days of receipt. He says he should have paid at the discounted rate of £30 but the Council charged £60. Initially Mr X accepted this. But, the Council continued to write to him requesting payment. The fine increased to £90 and was then registered in court. Mr X says that despite sending emails the Council would not accept he had paid the fine.
- Mr X complained. In response, the Council explained it had issued two PCNs. The one that Mr X paid in September was for a PCN for a contravention that occurred in June. And, due to the time that had passed, the discounted rate was not an option. The Council explained Mr X had not paid the other PCN which is why enforcement action continued and the fine escalated.
- The Council said it should have responded to Mr X in December before it registered the fine in court. Due to this error it cancelled the other PCN.
- I will not start an investigation because the Council has cancelled the second PCN and Mr X does not owe any money to the Council.
- I will not start an investigation because the Council has cancelled the PCN.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman