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Gloucestershire County Council (20 008 343)

Category : Transport and highways > Rights of way

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 22 Jan 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s advice to the local planning authority about an application which affects his property. We should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault which would warrant an investigation.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complained about the Council giving a highways recommendation when it was consulted by the local planning authority. He says the Council did not properly consider previous refusals of applications for similar schemes where highways issues were a concern.

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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’. 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, or
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered all the information which Mr X submitted with his complaint. I have also considered the Council’s response. Mr X has been given an opportunity to comment on a draft copy of my decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X objected to a planning application for development near his home on the grounds that highway users would be endangered by the new access. He says that previous applications have been refused due to the poor highway sightlines and that this application should have been refused on similar grounds. He also says the traffic survey evidence was flawed and did not take place at a representative time of year.
  2. The Council told Mr X it did not consider that traffic flow details from previous applications was relevant to the current one because some of the previous decisions were over thirty years ago. It believes any traffic survey more than three years old is likely to be outdated.
  3. The Council was satisfied with the methodology of the traffic survey and that the survey in November was more representative of normal use than at peak times in the summer. It did not object to the plans for these reasons.
  4. When considering complaints, we may not act like an appeal body and question the merits of the decision the Council has made or offer any opinion on whether or not we agree with the judgment of the Councils’ officers or members. Instead, we focus on the process by which the decision was made. In this case it is clear that the Council considered that the methodology for collecting the highways information was acceptable and that it did not object to the proposals.

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Final decision

  1. We should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault which would warrant an investigation.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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