Decision : Upheld
Decision date : 07 Dec 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because the Council has agreed to do so via its complaint procedure. Mr X can return to this office if he disagrees with the outcome or if the Council fails again to deal with his complaint appropriately.
- Mr X complains the Council wrote to the wrong address for one year regarding a penalty charge notice (PCN) issued in July 2020. Mr X says he only knew about the PCN in July 2021 when the Council’s enforcement agent contacted him about the debt.
- Mr X complains the Council and its enforcement agent failed to reply to his contacts and wrongly clamped his car, on 1 September, when he was challenging the debt recovery at the County Court’s traffic enforcement centre. Mr X says the Council failed to put recovery action on hold. It delayed unclamping his vehicle for a week causing him problems in his personal and work life.
- Mr X says the Council caused him trauma and stress by threats to seize his car if he did not pay the debt which had risen to £540. He says the Council caused him time and trouble by its failures of communication.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered Mr X’s information and discussed the complaint with him by telephone. I have clarified the complaint position with the Council.
- On 2 September 2021 Mr X complained to the Council about its actions including the clamping of his vehicle the day before. The Council replied to Mr X refusing to deal with his complaint because he was challenging the PCN. However, it failed to mention the clamping of his vehicle which was Mr X’s immediate problem.
- I am satisfied that it is appropriate for the Council to deal with the complaint under its complaint procedure which it has offered to do. The Council’s reply needs to include a review of its enforcement agent’s actions and why Mr X’s vehicle was clamped for one week.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because the Council has agreed to do so via its complaint procedure. Mr X can return to this office if he disagrees with the outcome or if the Council fails again to deal with his complaint appropriately.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman