Decision : Not upheld
Decision date : 25 Mar 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The investigation of this complaint will be discontinued, as there is insufficient evidence of significant injustice caused to the complainant by traffic changes in the area.
- The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr B, complains about several decisions the Council has made about traffic schemes in the area he lives in.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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:
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, 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, or
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I read the papers sent by Mr B and discussed the complaint with him.
- I gave the Council and Mr B the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.
What I found
- Mr B explained to me on the telephone that he was concerned about three issues, related to the Council’s traffic schemes in the area.
- Mr B said the Council, in a joint scheme with Transport for London, has carried out a joint consultation for cycle highway one. The Council has shut some roads north and south of Mr B, which he says has put a lot more traffic onto Road A. Mr B lives on a side road that comes off Road A, about 4 houses down. I can see from a map Mr B’s house faces the road junction. But, there is also a four storey office building opposite him, between him and Road A, on the opposite side of his road. The other end of Mr B’s road has a pedestrian path through to a main high street (about 115 metres according to Mr B).
- Mr B says there is now about 2000 extra cars a day on Road A and his house is affected by extra noise and air pollution.
- Mr B complains the Council has not adequately considered his view about the increased traffic on Road A when making the decision on the cycle highway and associated works.
- The injustice test is an important factor in our decision to investigate complaints. We will not normally investigate a complaint unless there is good reason to believe the complainant has suffered significant personal injustice as a direct result of the actions of the Council. We will not normally investigate a complaint where the alleged loss or injustice is not a significant matter and the complainant is not the person primarily affected.
- Mr B does not live on the road directly affected by the traffic changes. I am not convinced the impact of any increase in traffic on a separate road is significant enough injustice to warrant further investigation. I appreciate Mr B disagrees, but as he does not live on the road affected by the potential increase in traffic he is not directly and significantly affected, in my view.
- Mr B also complains the Council did not correctly consider some letters separately rather than part of a petition. I do not consider the Council’s consideration of other people’s letters as part of a petition causes Mr B a direct personal injustice so do not intend to investigate. The writers of these letters can put in their own complaints if they want to.
- Mr B also complains about the Council’s use of social media on a current open consultation. As the Council has not made a decision on the current consultation, it is not appropriate for the Ombudsman to investigate at present. This is because the final decision on the matter consulted about has not yet been made, so it is not clear if the use of Social Media has affected the outcome.
- I have discontinued the investigation of this complaint. I do not consider that the injustice claimed by Mr B is significant enough to justify an investigation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman