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Reading Borough Council (18 011 927)

Category : Transport and highways > Public transport

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 23 Jan 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr A and Mrs A complain that the Council should not operate a bus service along their road because it is dangerous. The Ombudsman does not find there is fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainants, whom I shall refer to as Mr and Mrs A, complain the Council should not have allowed a bus service to run past their home. They say that it has caused damage to their property and could cause an accident.

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What I have investigated

  1. I have considered the Council’s actions as it is the owner of the bus operator. I have not investigated the actions of the Traffic Commissioner as it is not within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

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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. 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 have considered the complaint and the copy correspondence provided by the complainants. I have invited the complainants to comment on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr and Mrs A complained to the bus operator in April 2018 when buses started to run past their home. They said that buses had caused damage to their property in previous years. They feared a serious accident could occur as buses drove fast down the road and there was no pavement outside their house, which was very close to the road. Mr and Mrs A said the timetabled route did not show that it should run past their home.
  2. The bus operator replied that the route had changed on Sunday morning and Sunday evening. This meant at those times buses parked at a stop near their road and then drove past their home to the start of the bus route. It explained further that the road had been used as a bus route with varying frequency for some time. It said no other route was available and it was a public highway. It stated that the route had been registered with the Traffic Commissioner which registers Public Service Vehicle bus and coach routes.
  3. The Traffic Commissioner confirmed the bus route was registered. Mr and Mrs A wrote to The Traffic Commissioner to question whether the route shown was correct as it did not appear to show the stop near his home or the bus running past his home.
  4. In October 2018 Mr and Mrs A wrote to the bus operator to say that now buses ran past their home all day, every day of the week. The bus operator replied that due to road works in the area buses had been diverted. It said it had reported these diversions to the Traffic Commissioner.
  5. Mr and Mrs A repeated their complaint that the route was dangerous. The bus operator replied that it did not see there were any safety issues in the area. It said that it took safety very seriously and its staff took the greatest of care.

Analysis

  1. The Council has confirmed the diversions which started in October have finished.
  2. I have not found evidence of fault by the Council. It has confirmed that the route is a public highway, so any vehicle can use this road. The bus route is registered with the Traffic Commissioner. The route has previously been used by buses. It is now used for very limited periods before the service starts. I do not consider there is evidence that this causes injustice to the complainants.
  3. If Mr and Mrs A have questions regarding the route registration details, this is matter that they may pursue with the Traffic Commissioner.

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Final decision

  1. I have not found fault by the Council and I have completed my investigation and closed the complaint.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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