Decision : Not upheld
Decision date : 08 Aug 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: There was no fault in the Council’s decision not to implement recommendations in a traffic report.
- Mr C complains Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council (the Council) failed to implement the recommendations of its own report about parking problems outside a school on his street.
- He also complains:
- members refused to reply to his emails
- Gateshead Housing Company did not fence off all the area where the problem parking occurs
- About the police’s actions.
What I have investigated
- I have investigated the complaint in paragraph 1. My reasons for not investigating the complaints in paragraph 2 are at the end of this statement.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We cannot investigate complaints about the provision or management of social housing by a council acting as a registered social housing provider. (Local Government Act 1974, paragraph 5A schedule 5, as amended)
- We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. 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)
- 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 fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered Mr C’s complaint to us, the Council’s response to his complaint and documents described below. Both parties received a draft of this statement and I took their comments into account.
What I found
- Mr C lives on a housing estate close to a school. There have been problems with congestion when cars park to drop off and pick up children at the school.
- The Council commissioned a traffic report about parking on the estate in November 2017. The report confirmed there was a problem and noted additional parking was not feasible due to the land proposed not being part of the adopted highway. The report noted the Council’s policy was to encourage alternatives to driving children to school, in line with its sustainable transport policy. It recommended parking restrictions including double and single yellow lines.
- The Council consulted local people about the proposals. It sent letters to residents affected and to parents and put notices up. There were more objections to the proposals than approvals. So the Council decided to postpone making a decision.
- The Council wrote to Mr C in May 2018 saying it had consulted informally and most people were against the proposals. The Council said building was underway at the school and so it was going to put the traffic scheme on hold until work was finished.
- The Council’s final response to Mr C’s complaint said:
- There was a site visit in September 2017, and a report which recommended actions to alleviate congestion;
- The Council consulted on the proposed changes and most respondents opposed them. So in April 2019, the Council decided not to proceed until it completed a further review. A borough-wide review was under way at present, with Mr C’s ward due to be reviewed in the near future;
- As parking issues affected anyone who may use the roads, everyone had an equal right to be consulted. This would include anyone who lived or worked in the area as well as other highway users;
- Accident statistics were the best type of information about road safety. In the absence of a serious accident problem at the school, there was no compelling case for short term action.
Was there fault?
- The Ombudsman cannot question a decision just because a person does not agree with it. Our role is to consider whether there was fault in the way the Council made the decision. I am satisfied the Council acted without fault by commissioning an inspection which made recommendations and then consulting with those affected. It took into account objections and was entitled to decide not to implement the report’s proposals.
- There is no fault in the decision not to put in place the recommendations of a traffic management report.
Parts of the complaint that I did not investigate
- The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has no power to investigate actions of the police in preventing crime. And we have no power to investigate complaints about the management of social housing. So I have not investigated Mr C’s complaints about the police’s actions or about Gateshead Housing Company.
- I have not investigated Mr C’s complaint about individual councillors not replying to his contact because he has had a full response to his complaint from officers and so there is little or no injustice to him.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman