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Oxfordshire County Council (20 004 629)

Category : Transport and highways > Public transport

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 04 Nov 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about Mrs Y’s local bus stop being blocked by a third party. This is because it is unlikely we would find the Council at fault.

The complaint

  1. Mrs Y complains the Council did not monitor a contractor who blocked access to a bus stop during temporary roadworks. She complains the bus stop was then suspended and the Council has not been able to tell her who is responsible for granting a suspension.

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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 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 or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mrs Y and the Council provided. Mrs Y had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs Y, who lives near a housing development site, complained to the Council at the end of January 2020. She complained that the developer had installed temporary traffic lights, leading to a bus stop being closed as it was not safe for the public to access.
  2. The Council acknowledged the complaint, before Mrs Y then provided further comments about her concerns in February. These comments referred an earlier complaint she had made in September 2019 about the entrance to the development site, which Mrs Y said was causing a safety risk as cyclists were not separated from traffic or pedestrians. She also complained that a temporary replacement bus stop had not been provided.
  3. The Council acknowledged these comments, before providing a response in March 2020. It explained it had contacted the developer about the management of traffic near the site. It said the developer had experienced a high rate of staff turnover, which meant guidance the Council had previously given had not been passed on within the contractor’s company. It said it had reiterated its expectations to the developer and would monitor the situation going forward to ensure the developer complied with requirements.
  4. The Council, in response to further contact from Mrs Y about her concerns, including damage to cabling, wrote to her again in May. It confirmed there had been a problem with a street lighting cable and this had been repaired. It also said the issue about the bus stop suspension had been caused by the developer applying to the wrong Parish Council. The Council referred Mrs Y to her local District and Parish Councils if she wanted to raise the issue further but said it could not comment any further as it was not part of the Council’s responsibilities. It again said the works would continue to be monitored by the Council and referred Mrs Y to the Ombudsman.

Analysis

  1. As the Council properly considered Mrs Y’s complaint and promptly took action to investigate the cause and to try to resolve the issues caused by the developer, it is unlikely we would find fault in this complaint. I do not therefore intend to investigate this complaint further.
  2. Mrs Y has also complained about her nearest bus stop being suspended, and the Council being unable to comment on which body is responsible for the suspension. As the Council has explained it is not responsible for the bus stop suspension and has signposted Mrs Y to two other bodies who may be able to help her, it is unlikely we would find it at fault.

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Final decision

The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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