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London Borough of Sutton (21 009 077)

Category : Transport and highways > Street furniture and lighting

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 28 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains the Council, when constructing a crossover outside of his home, installed a new streetlight when it should only have relocated the old one. The Council was not at fault for installing a new lighting column when carrying out the crossover works.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr X, complains the Council used his crossover application to install a new lighting column. Mr X also complains the Council took too long in processing his application.

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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. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  3. 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 considered Mr X’s compliant and the information he provided.
  2. I considered the information provided by the Council.
  3. Mr X and the Council were given the opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision. I considered the comments I received from Mr X before making this final decision. The Council advised it had no comments to make.

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What I found

  1. Mr X applied for a vehicle crossover in front of his property. In response to his application, the Council provided him with the cost of relocation of a street light and work for a dropped kerb.
  2. Mr X was unhappy with the cost of relocating the street light. He said he had contacted the Council some years ago to report damage to the lighting column when a vehicle had drove into it. He says the Council failed to repair it at the time and it was now using his crossover application and fee to install a new lighting column. Mr X also said he was unhappy with the level of service he had received.
  3. At stage one of the complaints procedure, the Council offered to reimburse Mr X the cost of his crossover application. It said it was for the poor level of service in getting the lighting column relocated to permit his crossover to be constructed.
  4. Mr X was unhappy with the Council’s stage one response and requested for it to be escalated to stage two of the complaints procedure. Mr X said he wanted the Council to refund his application fee as well at least half of the cost for moving the lighting column because he applied for it to be relocated, not replaced at his expense.
  5. At stage two, the Council told Mr X that it had not asked him to pay for any repairs to the lighting column but only for the legitimate relocation costs therefore there was no justification for a refund of any relocation costs. The Council said its offer of reimbursing the application fee remained.
  6. Mr X was unhappy with the Council’s response so he brought his complaint to the Ombudsman.

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Analysis

  1. Mr X is of the view the Council has charged him the cost of a new street light and he would like to be reimbursed half of this cost. The Council explained in its stage 2 response to Mr X that he had only been charged relocation costs.
  2. I asked the Council to provide me with a breakdown of the costs and what Mr X was charged. The evidence shows Mr X was not charged for a new lighting column but he was charged with the relocation of the street light. I have not found any fault on this aspect of Mr X’s complaint. I do, however, consider that it is likely the matter would not have gone this far if the Council had provided Mr X the breakdown of costs when he first expressed his concerns and explained to him the lighting column was inspected when he reported the damage but it found it to not be in a dangerous state that required its immediate removal and reinstatement.
  3. The Council has installed a new lighting column when carrying out the work on the crossover but I do not consider this is fault nor does it cause Mr X any injustice. I acknowledge Mr X disagrees with this but there is no fault in the Council’s decision to install a new lighting column instead of relocating the old column.
  4. Mr X also complained the Council has taken too long in processing his application. The Council told Mr X the vehicle crossing would be completed in approximately 8 weeks from the date of payment but should the work involve the relocation of street furniture, then the completion date is likely to be extended. In this case, the work was completed in 12 weeks from when Mr X made the payment. I do not consider this an unreasonable length of time and therefore I do not make a finding of fault on this aspect of Mr X’s complaint.

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Final decision

  1. The Council was not at fault for installing a new lighting column when carrying out the works for Mr X’s crossover. I have completed my investigation and closed this complaint.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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