The Local Government Ombudsman investigates complaints against public bodies and local authorities on behalf of people who believe they have been treated unfairly as a result of MALADMINISTRATION.
They are independent and impartial body and do not charge for their services.
Maladministration may occur for any number of reasons. Perhaps the Council have taken too long to deal with a matter without good reason resulting in hardship or difficulty, does not properly follow is own rules and guidelines or is considered to be acting corruptly or fraudulently, or provides you with incorrect information.
The Ombudsman investigates the circumstances surrounding HOW the Council has conducted itself. He is not there to arbitrate on a decision of the Council, or overturn their decision because you may disagree with it. Failing to declare an interest as a member of a planning committee, when voting on a planning application, which has a direct or indirect benefit for that member may be one example of a potential case for the Ombudsman to consider.
Before making a complaint to the Ombudsman you must allow the Council an opportunity to deal with the complaint. The head of department or the Chief Executive should be contacted, or you can ask a councillor to look into the matter.
If the Council's response is unsatisfactory (or there is no response) then you can make your complaint to the Ombudsman for your area directly, or ask a councillor to do this for you. Your citizen's advice bureau will also be able to provide assistance.
Complaints should be made in writing setting out the circumstances of the complaint and any relevant details. The letter or complaint form must be signed personally by the complainant.
There are some matters the Ombudsman cannot deal with. The main issues are:-
Matters that you knew about over 12 months before you lodged the complaint, unless it is considered reasonable to accept the complaint in the circumstances of the case.
Matters that have already been to court or an appeal. If this is still an option the Ombudsman may require you to take that option and will not investigate.
General complaints affecting people other than yourself.
Council contracts, court proceedings or personnel matters.
Following receipt of a complaint an Investigator will be allocated to determine whether there is a case to answer and, if so, to advise you of the proceedings and keep you informed of progress. Some investigations will be resolved quickly, others may take some time.
The Council will be sent a copy of the complaint and will be asked for a response. Their answer may be sufficient to resolve the issue. In other cases a formal report may be prepared and this will be sent to you. This will state whether the Ombudsman considers that maladministration has occurred and the extent to which he considers you have suffered as a result.
In circumstances where the Ombudsman considers you have suffered as a result of the Councils' actions he will recommend a course of action by the Council to rectify the matter. The Council must inform the Ombudsman of their intended actions in the light of his report. This may involve the payment of compensation, or the carrying out of remedial actions, or both.
Although Councils' generally abide by the Ombudsman's' findings, the Ombudsman cannot force a Council to take the action he recommends if they chose not to.
ARE THREE LOCAL OMBUDSMEN FOR
London boroughs north of the river Thames (including Richmond but not Harrow or Tower Hamlets), Essex, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Coventry City