Decision : Not upheld
Decision date : 01 Nov 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: There is no fault in the Council’s installation of a traffic calming scheme. Mrs X says the speed bump placement causes more noise, but the Council has explained that it is at an angle due to the curve of the road and it does not intend to amend the scheme. The Council’s intention to place bark on a strip of land next to the pavement is a satisfactory response to complaints about maintaining the area.
- The complainant, who I shall call Mrs X, complains a traffic calming scheme near her house has not been built as shown on the plans for consultation, resulting in increased noise from a speed hump placed at an angle.
- Mrs X also complains that an area of land between her property boundary and the pavement cannot be easily maintained in the future.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
- 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 read the papers put in by Mrs X and discussed the complaint with her.
- I considered the Council's comments about the complaint and any supporting documents it provided.
- Mrs X and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.
What I found
- The public consultation document proposed providing speed cushions within the 30 mph section either side of the entrance to Mrs X’s road. And, installing a pedestrian refuge and extended footway south of Mrs X’s road. The consultation included a potential scheme design.
- The Council said the response to the consultation was over 80% in favour of the scheme. Mrs X emailed the highways officer several times to ask for details of exactly what works would be completed. Just before construction started, the Council sent her a plan.
- After completion of the scheme, Mrs X complained about noise from longer wheel based vehicles going over the speed cushions. She felt this was because the speed cushions were at a slight angle.
- After some correspondence and a site visit, Highway Officer’s responded in October 2020. They said ‘the installation of the humps have been reviewed on site and there is no issue with their installation or design. By installing rubber cushions, which are made to a specific standard details, there are no issues with the cushions not conforming to the Council’s standards and specifications’.
- Mrs X then put in a formal complaint to the Council. The response was delayed, for which the Council apologised after Mrs X wrote to ask when she would receive a response. The Council responded to Mrs X’s complaint to say that its monitoring had shown the scheme had resulted in a reduction in vehicle speeds along the road and the Council did not intend to remove or amend the scheme. The Council said the speed humps were close to the minimum width of 1500mm, at the recommended height of 65mm and were of a rubber construction that absorbs vibration.
- The Council has said the plans Mrs X was consulted on were amended to take account of residents comments. So, the scheme has not been built exactly as shown on the consultation plans. The Council has said that as the speed humps are placed on part of the road on a bend, they cannot be aligned to the lines of both kerbs.
- I have looked at all the information sent to me by Mrs X and the Council. Clearly Mrs X disagrees with the Council’s decision on the road scheme. However, this does not mean there is fault by the Council. The Council consulted on the draft scheme, considered the comments and installed a scheme that complies with government guidance. Officers have also revisited to check measurements and the speed of vehicles. I can find no evidence of fault by the Council. Highways officers have made a professional judgement the scheme is acceptable.
- Mrs X has a specific concern about the location of the speed hump in relation to the kerb, but as both she and the Council have said this is because the road curves and the speed hump is straight, I cannot see that this is fault. The Council has noted her concerns but has said that it does not intend to alter the scheme. This is a decision the Council is entitled to make and I consider officers have taken into all the relevant facts when making this decision.
- Mrs X also complains about a small strip of land between a hedge and the pavement. She has said that the hedge plants planted by the Council have died and so the area looks a mess. The Council has said that it cannot tarmac the area but is willing to place some bark down. Having seen a photo of the strip of land in question, this seems a reasonable response to me and I cannot see any fault on this point.
- I have completed my investigation of this complaint. This complaint is not upheld, as I have found no evidence of fault.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman