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Leicester City Council (20 008 751)

Category : Transport and highways > Traffic management

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 22 Nov 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complained the Council failed to address his concerns about a business parking cars on double yellow lines and completing car repairs on a public highway. Mr X says this business is blocking the road causing congestion which affects his daily commute to work causing frustration and upset. The Ombudsman does not find fault with the Council.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complained the Council failed to address his concerns about a business parking cars on double yellow lines and completing car repairs on a public highway. Mr X says he has reported this to the Council repeatedly but it has failed to resolve the issue.
  2. Mr X says this business is blocking the road causing congestion which affects his daily commute to work causing frustration and upset.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  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 have considered all the information Mr X provided. I have also asked the Council questions and requested information, and in turn have considered the Council’s response.
  2. Mr X provided comments on my draft decision. I considered Mr X’s comments before making my final decision.

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What I found

Regulations

  1. It is an offence for a business, or a person for gain or reward, to complete repairs, maintenance, servicing, improvement or dismantling of a motor vehicle or of any part of or accessory to a motor vehicle on a highway. (The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, Part 2, Section 4)
  2. A council has a duty to secure the quick and efficient movement of traffic on its highway network. (The Traffic Management Act 2004, Part 2, Section 16(1) (a))
  3. The Council’s policy, A Guide to Parking Enforcement in Leicester (June 2019), says it will issue a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) on a car parked on double yellow lines. The Civil Enforcement Officer will wait five minutes before issuing the PCN if the car is not parked dangerously.
  4. The Council’s policy says it will issue a PCN on any car a Civil Enforcement Officer finds parked “dangerously” on double yellow lines such as on corners, at junctions or across dropped kerbs.
  5. The Council’s policy says garages have no rights to use the highway to park cars for maintenance. If a garage employee parks a vehicle on the highway in contravention of parking restrictions while it carries out maintenance, it will issue a PCN to the owner of the vehicle.

What happened

  1. Mr X complained to the parking office at the Council on 10 December 2019 about people parking on double yellow lines on his street. Mr X said there was a garage and an auto-parts shop on his street. Mr X said customer’s of the shop would park on double yellow lines and the garage would run its business on the street.
  2. The Council responded on 12 December 2019 to advise it had raised Mr X’s concerns with its enforcement team and had requested extra enforcement visits to take place. The Council advised Mr X if the enforcement team observed a vehicle in breach of parking restrictions the Civil Enforcement Officer would issue a PCN. The Council also advised it had contacted the City Wardens about the businesses completing works on the highway.
  3. Mr X contacted the Council’s parking services again on 16 March 2020. Mr X said the situation with parking was getting worse. Mr X also told his councillor about the issues.
  4. The Council responded on 19 March 2020 to advise it was completing extra patrols of the area. The Council also provided directed contact numbers for its enforcement team and the City Wardens. The Council advised Mr X to contact these teams directly to report future parking issues.
  5. Mr X contacted the Council’s enforcement team on 22 July 2020 about people parking on double yellow lines. A Civil Enforcement Officer attended and arranged for the cars to be removed.
  6. Mr X contacted the Council’s parking services on 23 July 2020 to advise about the incident on 22 July 2020. Mr X said the cars returned shortly after the Civil Enforcement Officer left. Mr X asked the Council for a solution to the parking issues. Mr X’s councillor also contacted the Council on 24 July 2020 to raise Mr X’s concerns and to request consideration of residents parking.
  7. On 27 July 2020, the Council told the councillor it had raised this matter with the City Wardens and its enforcement team and it was continuing to monitor the street. The Council also told the councillor it was not looking to introduce residents parking on this street. The Council said it had already decided the next areas of the city it would be introducing residents parking.
  8. Mr X asked to make a formal complaint to the Council on 9 December 2020. Mr X reiterated his concerns about parking on double yellow lines and the business carrying out works on the highway.
  9. The Council responded to Mr X’s complaint on 10 December 2020. The Council told Mr X it had raised the issue with parking services and had raised a request for extra patrols on the street and had also contacted the City Wardens. The Council explained it could not continuously patrol the same area though as it needed to cover the whole city.
  10. Mr X’s councillor added to Mr X’s complaint on 7 January 2021. The councillor advised this was a recurring issue and the businesses kept parking cars on the street. The councillor raised concerns about lack of enforcement from the Council.
  11. A City Warden attended the street on 12 January 2021 and did not find either business carrying out repairs on the street. However, the City Warden noted that a customer was attaching a number plate to their car. The City Warden spoke with both the garage and the auto-parts shop. Both businesses denied completing works on the street and the auto-parts shop advised it could not prevent customers from completing their own repairs.
  12. The Council responded to the Councillor on 20 January 2021 to advise it was aware of the issue and was monitoring the street.
  13. Mr X told the Council he wished to approach the Ombudsman on 16 April 2021 and asked for a formal complaint response.
  14. The Council logged Mr X’s Stage 1 complaint on 19 April 2021 and contacted both the City Wardens and enforcement team for information.
  15. The Council’s enforcement team advised the complaints department it had visited the street 91 times from 1 January 2020 to 31 March 2021. However, during this time it had reduced its visits in the national lockdown periods. Parking enforcement advised it had issued three PCNs during this same period to individuals.
  16. The City Wardens told the Council’s complaints department it had never witnessed the garage or auto-parts shop completing repairs on the highway and from its observations this appeared to be members of the public. The City Wardens advised they had spoken with both businesses and attended twice in the last week and found the road clear.
  17. The Council issued its complaint response on 28 April 2021. The Council told Mr X about the information it received from its enforcement team and the City Wardens. The Council told Mr X it would continue to monitor the situation.
  18. Mr X complained to the Council about further issues on 29 April 2021 and 3 June 2021. Mr X asked for a more long-term solution from the Council rather than needing him to repeatedly report issues.
  19. On both occasions the Council contacted the enforcement team who attended the street in response to Mr X’s concerns. The Council’s enforcement team continued to monitor the street and issued four more PCNs by the end of August 2021.

Analysis

Businesses completing works on the highway

  1. Mr X complained the Council failed to address his concerns about a business parking cars on double yellow lines and completing car repairs on a public highway.
  2. A business, or an employee from a business, is not allowed to complete car repairs on a public highway. The Council’s policy says it will issue a PCN if it finds a business completing such works.
  3. The Council raised Mr X’s concerns about a business completing works on the highway with its City Wardens five times from December 2019 to the date of this decision.
  4. The City Wardens attended the street to monitor the situation and investigate Mr X’s concerns. In total, the City Wardens visited the street 50 times from the start of January 2021 to the end of August 2021. The City Wardens also spoke with both businesses on the street about completing works on the highway.
  5. Despite investigating the situation, the Council found no evidence that either business was completing repairs, maintenance, servicing, improvement or dismantling of cars on the highway. Since the Council could not find any evidence to support Mr X’s concerns it could not take any formal action against either business.
  6. The Council also cannot take any formal action against an individual completing car repairs or maintenance on a highway if the person has parked their car in a safe manner which complies with parking restrictions.
  7. The Council has investigated Mr X’s concerns and acted in line with its policy. I do not find fault with the Council’s response to Mr X’s concerns about the businesses use of the highway.

Road blockage and congestion

  1. Mr X complained the road is repeatedly blocked or congested and, despite raising this with the Council on many occasions, the Council has failed to address this. Mr X also complained to the Council about the lack of a more permanent solution to the parking issues.
  2. The Council has a general duty to ensure traffic on its highways can benefit from quick and efficient movement. This would extend to prevention, where possible, of congestion and roadblocks.
  3. The Council’s policy addresses this duty in respect of Mr X’s concerns through issuing PCNs on individuals who have parked cars on double yellow lines or in dangerous locations.
  4. Mr X has raised his concerns with the Council on repeated occasions since December 2019. The Council’s parking service have responded to Mr X’s concerns on each occasion and raised it with the Council’s enforcement team.
  5. The Council’s enforcement team has shown it has monitored the situation on Mr X’s street by visiting the street 211 times from January 2020 to the end of September 2021. This means the Council’s enforcement team has attended Mr X’s street nearly two and a half times each week. This is despite the enforcement team’s reduced monitoring during the Covid-19 Pandemic national lockdowns, which lasted for roughly seven months of the 21 months from January 2020 to September 2021.
  6. The Council has acted suitably to monitor the situation with parking on Mr X’s street. The Council has told Mr X it cannot constantly monitor his street and it must ensure it is providing a service to the entire city. I cannot find fault with the Council’s comments and consider the Council arranged suitable monitoring to address the concerns Mr X raised about parking on his street.
  7. The Council’s monitoring of Mr X’s street during this time resulted in it issuing seven PCNs on individuals for parking on double-yellow lines or for dangerous parking.
  8. The Council can only take formal action when it witnesses cars parked against restrictions. The Councils actions in issuing PCNs shows that it is taking formal action when the situation presents itself to do so in line with is policy.
  9. I do not find fault with how the Council has monitored or enforced parking restrictions on Mr X’s street.
  10. While Mr X has requested a more permanent solution to the parking issues, the Council explained to Mr X’s councillor that it was not considering introducing residents parking on Mr X’s street.
  11. The Council’s decision not to introduce residents only parking on to Mr X’s street is a decision the Council is entitled to reach. There is no duty on the Council to convert the street into residents only parking, The Council has discretion about how best to manage its highways and funds.
  12. The Ombudsman is not an appeal body, so cannot comment on the merits of judgements and decisions made by councils in the absence of fault in the process. The Council has decided where in the city it is looking to introduce residents parking next, and this does not include Mr X's street. The Ombudsman cannot question this decision when there is no evidence of fault in how the Council made this decision.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation as there was no fault in the Council’s actions or decision.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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