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West Yorkshire Combined Authority (20 004 569)

Category : Transport and highways > Public transport

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 16 Oct 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint about a cancelled bus journey and poor customer service. The bus operator provides timetables, fares, buses standards of customer care. Therefore, the complaint does not concern an administrative function of the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA):
    • Failed to investigate his complaint
    • Ignored the fact many elderly and/or vulnerable people were stranded in freezing conditions
    • advertise and sell tickets for bus services yet do not accept responsibility for services failure
    • failed to ensure any customer service during the incident or afterwards

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint where the body complained about is not responsible for the issue being raised. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (1), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mr X, including the WYCA response to him. I also reviewed the information available on the WYCA website.

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What I found

  1. Mr X complained to the WYCA that in December a bus was cancelled without warning during freezing weather. He says no customer service was forthcoming, and elderly, vulnerable passengers waiting at the bus station did not receive hot drinks or free use of the facilities.
  2. The WYCA told Mr X it had logged the complaint and passed it to the company responsible for the bus service.
  3. Mr X believes the WYCA should investigate the complaint and pursue the matter with the operator.
  4. The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint. Our role is to deal with complaints about the actions of councils acting as local government bodies. Providing bus services associated customer service are not administrative functions of the WYCA. We cannot therefore look at this complaint.
  5. Mr X is also unhappy about the way the WYCA dealt with is complaint. However, the courts have said that where we cannot investigate a complaint about the main or underlying issue, we cannot normally investigate related issues either. So, where we are not investigating the a complainant’ main concern, we do not usually investigate the Council’s handling of the issue as a sole issue.

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Final decision

  1. I cannot investigate this complaint as it does not concern an administrative function of the Authority.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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