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Nottinghamshire County Council (20 013 673)

Category : Transport and highways > Traffic management

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 18 Oct 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mrs X complained the Council did not appropriately consider her objections before approving a Traffic Regulation Order for parking restrictions outside her house. She also says the decision is unfair as the Council has allowed other accesses to properties in her road to remain free of parking restrictions. The Council was not at fault.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complained the Council did not appropriately consider her objections before approving a Traffic Regulation Order for parking restrictions outside her house. She also said the decision is unfair as the Council has allowed other accesses to properties in her road to remain free of parking restrictions.
  2. Mrs X said the restrictions mean maintenance vehicles and visitors cannot now park close to her property, which causes her inconvenience and difficulty accessing help and support. She wanted the Council to review the decision and remove the parking restriction from outside her house.

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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)

We investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies. Where an individual, organisation or private company is providing services on behalf of a council, we can investigate complaints about the actions of these providers. (Local Government Act 1974, section 25(7), as amended)

  1. 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 read Mrs X’s complaint and spoke with her about it on the phone.
  2. I made enquiries of the Council and considered information it sent me.
  3. Mrs X and the Council had the opportunity to comment on the draft decision. I considered their comments before making a final decision.

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What I found

  1. Traffic Regulation Orders
  2. Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) allow councils to introduce and enforce parking restrictions within their area. The process for creating a TRO is set out in regulations. In summary, a council must:
    • publicise the proposal;
    • consider any objections received before making the Order; and
    • notify anyone who objected of the outcome, including the reasons for the council’s decision.

What happened

  1. An agency (Agency A) provides highways services on the Council’s behalf. In 2020, the Council proposed a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to introduce parking restrictions on Mrs X’s road. Agency A started the consultation process and invited comments from local residents, including Mrs X.
  2. Mrs X submitted her objections to Agency A in December 2020. She said double yellow lines would mean visitors or contractors would no longer be able to park outside her home. She told Agency A she lived alone and the proposed restrictions would increase her isolation and make it more difficult to get the support she needed. Agency A acknowledged her objections and said it would consider them as part of its decision making.
  3. Agency A formally considered the TRO proposal in January 2021. The report included Mrs X’s objections and Agency A’s consideration of them. It noted Mrs X already had off-street parking and that on and off street parking was available nearby. It said the proposed restrictions would make it safer to for vehicles to navigate the bend and give better visibility for vehicles. It also said the restrictions would improve visibility for pedestrians crossing the road. It approved the TRO and said the parking restrictions should be implemented as proposed.
  4. Agency A emailed Mrs X to tell her the decision and provide her with a copy of the report. Mrs X says she did not receive the report, but I have seen evidence Agency A sent it to her.
  5. Mrs X complained to Agency A. Agency A responded giving more information on why the TRO had been proposed and how it had considered her comments. It said if she remained dissatisfied she should complain to the Council.
  6. Mrs X complained to the Council. The Council said Agency A had considered her objections as part of the consultation and decision-making process. Her objections had been overruled, but Agency A had told her this and provided her with a copy of the report. It said Agency A had followed the correct process so there was no further right of appeal. It responded to her comment that other residents in her road had been allowed to keep unrestricted parking. It said a break in the restrictions outside her property would force vehicles into the middle of the road as she was on the outside of a bend, which was a safety hazard. It explained why some other properties in her road did have breaks in the restrictions and said it had not treated her any differently to other residents. It directed her to us if she remained dissatisfied.

Analysis

  1. 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.
  2. Agency A, acting on behalf of the Council, carried out the consultation process as we would expect. It advertised the proposal and invited comments or objections from local residents. It considered Mrs X ‘s comments as part of its decision making, but decided to approve the TRO. Although Mrs X says she did not receive it, the evidence shows Agency A sent her a copy of the report when it informed her of the decision.
  3. After its decision, Agency A and the Council appropriately responded to her emails and further explained why it had proposed and approved the TRO. It explained to her why there were restrictions outside her property, but not for some properties further up her road. There is no evidence Mrs X was treated differently to other property owners in her road.
  4. There was no fault in how this decision was reached, so I cannot question the decision made. The Council was not at fault.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation. The Council was not at fault.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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