Friday, December 24, 2010

The Local Government Ombudsman and their eighth pillar of injustice

Further to my previous post regarding the Local Government Ombudsman and their seven pillars of injusticeOver the last few weeks I have identified another two pillars of injustice which should be added to the list. Here is the first one, the ninth will be added soon.

The seven eight pillars of LGO injustice.

(1They work in private,  
(2) you can't appeal their findings of fact,
(3) they don't have to be qualified for the job.
(4) they can, and indeed do, delegate their job to a junior member of staff no matter how unqualified or incompetent,
(5) they don't have to show all the evidence to the complainant and they usually don't.
(6) they can and often do talk to the council without the complainant being aware any discussion took place. 
(7) they settle the complaint with the council. A complainant can't refuse such a settlement.
(8) they don't have to follow previous decisions/precedents/case law.

Following previous decisions/precedentscase law would bring certainty to the outcome of a complaint. However, the LGO don't follow this common sense pillar of justice they can ignore any previous decisions or recommendations. 

If two people had similar complaints the LGO could, find for the complainant in one complaint, recommending compensation for the injustice through maladministration, whilst finding against the complainant in the second case, reporting no maladministration. 

If two people had suffered similar injustice the LGO could, find for both complainant but recommend one compensation of £1000 but the other just £5.

In essence complainants can't base the possible outcomes of their complaint on previous cases, which makes the system unjustly unpredictable and unreliable. A system which is open to abuse by the LGO and their staff because their decisions can be made arbitrarily.

A real system of justice has to follow previously decided cases or provide an explanation of how the case under consideration is different from previously decided cases. Accordingly a real system of justice provides a much greater degree of certainty to all the parties involved by putting limits on the judge's freedom to deviate from the norm.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Data Protection: LGO V ICO

Contrast the discredited LGO with the ICO when both faced with complaints about a serious breach of the Data Protection Act.

In the first case the LGO recommended the paltry sum of £300 (per complainant) as compensation for a Data Protection breach, however, because councils can, and often do as this case proves, ignore the recommendations of the Local Government Ombudsman the complainants had to take further court action against the council to secure the paltry remedy suggested by the LGO. The LGO can't fine a council and even if they could it is doubtful they would.

In the second case the ICO  fined Hertfordshire County Council £100,000 for just two breaches of the DPA.

Xmas quiz
  1. Which council will be reluctant to breach the Data Protection Act in the future, Basildon or Hertfordshire?  
  2. Which watchdog would you complain to under these circumstances?
  3. Which watchdog looks like they have no credibility? 
  4. Which watchdog should be scrapped to save taxpayers over £15million per year?
Answers: 1. Hertfordshire, 2.  The ICO, 3. The LGO, 4. The LGO

        Thursday, December 09, 2010

        Another Public Service Ombudsman bites the dust.

        Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman announces plans to retire!

        "Ann Abraham has announced today that she plans to retire as Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman towards the end of 2011.

        She has advised the Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee, Bernard Jenkin, and the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, of her plans and asked them to set in train the process for appointing her successor.

        Ann Abraham said:

        ‘As Ombudsman, it is a great privilege to serve both Parliament and the public by helping to put things right when public bodies have not acted properly or fairly, or have provided a poor service. My Office has a clear and busy agenda over the next twelve months, with some important work in the pipeline. We stand well equipped to deliver this while the process of appointing my successor gets underway' "

        I wonder what changed Ann Abraham's mind? Last year she told the Public Administration Select Committee that she looked forward to serving many more years as PHSO. 

        The Department of Communities and Local Government knew Tony Redmond was going to retire in November 2010 way back in 2001, yet decided not to replace him until long after he had gone. This also happened when Jerry White retired. Yet when Pat Thomas retired in 2005 they found her replacement well in advance of her retirement. Have they decided, having experienced the problems that Mrs Seex has caused, that it is better to get rid of the old before recruiting the new?

        Jerry White, LGO and Vice Chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England (CLAE), Tony Redmond, LGO and Chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England and now Ann Abraham Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and a member of the Commission for Local Administration in England. 3 down, only two to more discredited Public Service Ombudsmen to go, Anne Seex and Jane Martin!

        Monday, November 22, 2010

        Integrity4Scotland: A new campaigning organisation

        Integrity4Scotland (I4S) is a new organisation campaigning for a fit for purpose public services complaints system that delivers justice to the complainant. We have identified the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) as the critical element.

        Read the full press release here.  Visit the new website here.

        The LGO are normally biased in favour of a Council

        In a recent newspaper article Graham Newman, a Suffolk County Council Councillor stated

        It is natural in some cases that the ombudsman will seek to redress the balance and find in favour of the individual over a very large organisation like the county council."

        If a Local Government Ombudsdman has to seek to redress the balance in some cases, as Graham Newton, Suffolk County Councillor suggests, then the LGO must, in all other cases, run an administrative justice system that is biased in favour of Councils.

        Thursday, November 11, 2010

        The anomalies of the administrative justice system known as the LGO (Number 1)

        Most people use the Local Government Ombudsman LGO) to pursue a complaint with a public authority in order to protect themselves from the significant costs and risks associated with taking legal action through the courts. 

        However, what many fail to realise, when deciding to use the discredited Local Government Ombudsman, is that even after the Local Government Ombudsman's involvement, they may still end up being forced into legal action against a Council to secure the remedy for the injustice they have suffered through maladministration. With the only alternative being to abandon their fight for justice.

        This anomaly comes about because a Local Government Ombudsman cannot enforce their recommendations. An anomaly which more and more Councils are now exploiting because they know this is normally the point at which most complainants give up their fight for justice because of the costs involved.

        If a complainant can afford the cost and risks associated with court action, a recent case has proven that they may be able to secure compensation for the injustice you have suffered through Council maladministration.However, if they can afford legal action, why bother with the discredited Local Government Ombudsman in the first place?

        Which brings me to the point of this post. The Local Government Ombudsman is merely a Government ploy to provide the illusion of justice to those who can't afford the real thing. This saves the Government a significant amount of money in the legal aid that would be necessary to provide a proper system of administrative justice for all.

        Friday, October 22, 2010

        Local Government Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill

        "Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
        Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Mr Philip Hollobone, Mr David Nuttall, Mr Greg Knight and Priti Patel, presented a Bill to extend the powers of the Local Government Ombudsman to provide redress against local authorities which unreasonably ban events on the grounds of health and safety.
        Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 18 March 2011, and to be printed (Bill 86)."

        About the same time Tony Redmond's replacement starts. See the previous post.

        One of many new changes regarding the LGO expected over the next few months. New Chair (Commission for Local Administration), new LGO, new powers..........new understanding of the risks, Law Commission Review of Public Service Ombudsmen filtering through? 

        Is March 2011 when they start to clean up the discredited LGO? Or is this another smoke and mirrors exercise by the Department of Communities and Local Government to give people the impression that things will change for the better when in reality they are going to stay the same. Or heaven forbid, change for the worse?

        An effective system of administrative justice costs money, continuing to sweep the problems with Local Government under the carpet, by throwing a few million pounds at an ineffective system of administrative justice (the LGO), is a much cheaper alternative for Eric Pickles and the DCLG.

        What a unique position Eric Pickles is in, as Secretary of State for Local Government, does he continue to protect Local Government by retaining an ineffective system of administrative justice or does he improve the system of administrative justice and expose the problems within Local Government? 

        We will get the answer to that question next March when the new Chair of the Commission for Local Administration and LGO is recruited by the same department responsible for Local Government. LGO independent of Local Government?

        Thursday, October 21, 2010

        Advert for Tony Redmond's replacement

        An outstanding opportunity exists to lead the further development of the Local Government Ombudsman service in England. 'We are looking for a person of the highest calibre with a significant track record of achievement to fill the role of Chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England and Local Government Ombudsman.
         
        The Commission comprises three Local Government Ombudsmen and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The successful applicant will have responsibility for investigating alleged maladministration and service failure by local authorities and certain other public bodies. The Local Government Ombudsman’s jurisdiction has also recently been expanded to adult social care self funders.

        As Chair and Local Government Ombudsman you will also have a key role in overseeing and directing the Commission’s Public Value strategy. Much of this activity focuses on improving local authority service provision and developing sound complaints handling arrangements. As Chair you will also play a leading role in advising the Commission in the development and implementation of the strategic and corporate planning for the organisation.

        This high profile role demands strong leadership skills and the highest standards of integrity and sound judgement. Candidates must demonstrate high intellectual capacity and an ability to assimilate complex information.'

        In the final candidate pack it states 'Tony Redmond leaves office on 11 November 2010, and his successor is now sought. It is aimed to appoint a new Ombudsman by the end of March 2011.' This is the second time they have not recruited a replacement Ombudsman until well after their predecessor left.  Whilst during 2005 they recruited Anne Seex well before Pat Thomas left so she could learn the ropes this didn't happen when Jerry White left last year. Dr Jane Martin didn't start until well after he left. The same now appears to apply to Tony Redmond, his replacement not starting for nearly five months after he leaves.

        Saturday, October 09, 2010

        The Local Government Ombudsmen: Bailing out?

        Since the summer of 2005 three Local Government Ombudsmen have bailed out, Pat Thomas 2005, Jerry White 2009 and Tony Redmond 2010. In addition Peter MacMahon the Deputy Ombudsman based in London also went in April 2010. Plus of course 10% of the Commission's total staff.

        However, what is even more interesting is that Jerry White (LGO Coventry Office) was also Vice Chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England (CLAE) and Tony Redmond (LGO London) is Chair of the CLAE yet both will have bailed out within months of each other. What do they know we and the other LGOs don't?


        This means, God help all complainants, that the most experienced Local Government Ombudsman is going to be Anne Seex. For complainants who haven't any experience of Anne Seex, she is the LGO who currently reports the least maladministration yet has the most councils ignoring her recommendations. In addition she probably has the largest number of complainants dissatisfied with her office than any other Ombudsman in the world.

        Thomas served 20 years, White 14 and Redmond 9 so it looks like the length of time they can stomach stuffing complainants has been reducing significantly. Particularly from 2003/4 when their antics started to be exposed by LGO Watch and additionally from 2006 by Public Service Ombudsman Watchers.

        Records prove that every new Ombudsman has identified less and less maladministration. Anne Seex (2005) reports less maladministration than Redmond (2001) who both reported less maladministration than White (1995). This theory can be put to the test when Jane Martin, the newbie, has served a complete reporting year. If the theory is correct she will report even less maladministration than Anne Seex, which is going to be nigh on impossible task for Jane Martin to do because Anne Seex reports way less than 1% of submitted complaints as maladministration. During a period in 2008 it fell to an all time  record low of 0.1%.

        The number of complainants LGOs stuff also appears inversely proportional to the length of time they can stomach doing their job. A theory which can be put to the test when Anne Seex decides to bail out.

        My conclusion is that Jerry White and Tony Redmond were smart enough to bail out before the CLAE/LGO crashes and burns leaving the inexperienced Mmes Seex and Martin and Tony Redmond's replacement to take the fall.

        Wednesday, October 06, 2010

        The Commission for Local Administration in England is not fit for purpose!

        FOI identifies that the Commission for Local Administration in England (CLAE) better known as the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) is not fit for purpose!  

        'FOI Act shines a torch on public services, says Information Commissioner.' “Freedom of Information has a key role to play in helping to deliver greater transparency and accountability. These are key priorities in public policy”, says Information Commissioner Christopher Graham in a message to mark International Right to Know Day".

        From a number of FOI requests to Commission for Local Administration in England (The Local Government Ombudsmen) over the last couple of years one can see that their faults are not just limited to their inability to carry out fair, just and above board investigations.

        I have already commented on what's wrong with the culture of the organisation and what's wrong with the system they operate so with this post I want to concentrates on what the FOI Act 'torch' has illuminated as far as corporate faults are concerned.

        These are some of the failures that FOI requests have confirmed the CLAE/LGO are guilty of
        • Failure to keep adequate records
        • Failure to maintain adequate audit trails
        • Failure to scrutinise expense claims
        • Failure to scrutinise proposals
        • Failure to follow their code of conduct
        • Failure to provide information
        • Failure to discipline staff for mistakes or wrongdoing
        • Failure to protect personal data
        • Failure to meet statutory deadlines
        FOI has also exposed the CLAE/LGO for
        • Fabricating records from memory years after the event
        • Playing silly semantic games to delay/avoid requests for copies of documents
        • Making up policy on the fly
        As far as I am concerned if they can't keep their own house in order what chance have they of keeping other public authorities in order? They are not exactly setting an example of how to run public organisation as they should be be doing.
        • The system they operate is not fit for purpose, 
        • the culture they have cultivated is not fit for purpose
        • and their corporate management is not fit for purpose.
        Any one would have brought a private company to it's knees. Luckily for the CLAE/LGO it's business as usual because they are totally unaccountable and funded by the taxpayer. How fortunate for them.

        Monday, September 20, 2010

        My Review of the Local Government Ombudsman

        The Law Commission intend to carry out a review of all Public Service Ombudsmen including the Local Government Ombudsmen. As a result I thought I would review what I had learnt about the LGO over the last few years.

        Over the last few years these are some of the things they have been caught out doing
        • lying to complainants
        • lying to government departments.
        • fabricating documents for themselves.
        • fabricating documents for councils.
        • fabricating minutes of meetings.
        • failing to keep records.
        • destroying records.
        • making up policy on the fly.
        • manipulating statistics.
        • breaking the law. 
        • misuse of FOI exemptions.
        • wrongly marking documents as confidential.
        • calling upon ex colleagues to sign fabricated documents.
        • manipulating evidence.
        • failing to keep adequate minutes.
        I will adding to the list as I recall other things I have seen them do over the last few years.

        Add the above, how they operate (the culture) to their seven principles of injustice, what they operate (the system), together with who they are, all ex council staff and you have a recipe for potentially the most corrupt system of administrative justice in the world.

        The Coalition Government are on record as saying they want to give Local Government Ombudsmen real teeth. I would prefer them to force the Local Government Ombudsmen to offer real justice first, followed by real independence and only then some real teeth. For what is the point of giving those in charge of an ineffective, biased, incompetent and corrupt system of administrative justice the teeth to do even more damage?

        Wednesday, September 15, 2010

        The power of blogs


        - On the 14th September 2010 I blogged about a number of roads on my estate still showing as unadopted in the council's official adopted road gazetteer. (Available on-line). This was contrary to what the LGO York Office had told me in the past.

        - On the 14th the LGO visited my blog. (I think they are worried about the Law Commission review because they have been visiting my blog and the Ombudsman Watchers website regularly since the review was announced)

        - Today, Wednesday the 15th the council amended their gazetteer to match the statements made by LGO staff some two years ago. Talk about you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours!

        Whilst I am amused at their devious attempt at arse covering, what they fail to appreciate is that other evidence is still available that proves they lied to me in 2008 about the then status of the roads.

        Tuesday, September 14, 2010

        Why do the staff at the York LGO office have to lie?

        During and following the investigation into my second complaint 2002/8 the LGO stated that all the roads on the estate, save for a very small stretch in the vicinity of my property, were adopted.

        However, the following is an extract from the Council's on-line road adoption gazetteer taken on the 13th September 2010. Which clearly shows that the opposite is still true. [A line drawn down the centre of the road on the plan marks their adopted roads.] Those without the coloured line down the middle are unadopted.  4 roads that, at a rough guess, add up to about a quarter of a mile of road and serve some 20 houses..



        So the $64,000 question is, was the Ombudsman's report based on a false premiss? The answer is clearly yes, and it wasn't the only false premiss her report was based on and those false premisses still exist to this day.

        So the only sensible response to my post title:  Why do the staff at the York LGO office have to lie? is, because it's the only way they can support their perverse and irrational findings.

        This is an aerial photo taken in the late 90s about the time the LGO investigated my first complaint. 

        Note the state of the roads when compared to the plan above. Both this photo and the adopted road plan above were obtained from the Council's own website and other than being cropped and resized for my blog have not been doctored in any way.

        Friday, September 03, 2010

        Public service ombudsmen set for shake up. Update 1

        I have just read all the Law Commission documentation regarding their  consultation (refer to my earlier post for more details) on the reform of Public Service Ombudsmen only to find it's just like all the other pseudo consultations that many government departments and local authorities now conduct so they can tick the, we have consulted others about these proposals box, thus allowing them to say they have met the necessary rules prior to implementing their plans.

        However, like all the other pseudo consultations carried out by public authorities and quangos it is obvious that they have already made up their mind and the so called consultation is nothing more than the usual public sector charade.

        I will be submitting a response but don't hold out any hopes of influencing what I consider is a predetermined outcome. The last so called consultation and subsequent changes were only brought about to protect Public Service Ombudsmen not the citizen.

        Example 1: Anyone remember the LGO's unlawful use of local settlements? A public sector pseudo consultation followed by a review and hey presto, rather than castigating the LGO for wrongly using local settlements without statutory authority, they just gave the LGO the statutory authority to carry on doing what they had been doing illegally for years. 

        Example 2: Anyone remember the cock up the LGO (Coventry Office) made of the Balchins case? The one that led to a number of judicial reviews against the Parliamentary Ombudsman until she could persuade the LGO to jointly get themselves out of their self created difficulties? A public sector pseudo consultation followed by a review and hey presto, rather than castigating the LGO for failing to validate the word of a Council Chief Executive Officer (something they still fail to do today) they just gave the LGO and the PHSO the statutory authority to work together. Now they can simply bury their cock ups rather than having them exposed to public scrutiny.

        It is also interesting to note that the Balchins would have had no chance under the latest proposed regime. They were essentially stuffed by two Public Service Ombudsmen and only saved by the court. Now they want to force everyone who would prefer to go to court for real justice, to use the discredited Public Service Ombudsmen.
        So the Public Sector and their lap dog Quangos think that by reducing the rights of this country's citizens (including their chances of obtaining proper justice), whilst strengthening what is after all nothing more than a modern version of a court of star chamber, is the way forward, God help us all, for we are on the road to anarchy.

        The Law Commission of all people should realise that just as the star chambers became a hated symbol of oppression by the citizen their new system of administrative justice is destined to follow suit.

        In fact many citizens, including myself, already think the current system of administrate justice is already perverted, so making it worse, by forcing more citizens to use the discredited Local Government Ombudsman will only hasten their downfall and those who helped keep them in power, such as the Law Commission and possibly the Government.

        I find it ironic that whilst preparations are under way to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta (2015), the signing of which confirmed citizen's rights under common law, the Law Commission and the Government of this country are currently trying to destroy one of the fundamental rights that the Magna Carta gave every citizen of this country. The right to a proper system of Justice.

        Look at clause (40) of the Magna Carta: "To none will we sell, to none will we deny, to none will we delay right or justice." Well it looks like the Law Commission and this Government are hell bent on denying you your rights to justice whenever a public authority is involved. Please refer to my earlier post regarding the Local Government Ombudsmen and their 7 pillars of injustice and ask yourself is that the kind of justice the Magna Carta promised us and the kind of justice we deserve? 

        And we all thought this new Government was going to improve the system of administrative justice by getting rid of all these unfair, unjust and discredited quangos, how wrong we were!

        Thursday, September 02, 2010

        Public service ombudsmen set for shake up

        A newpaper article about it is reproduced below. My comments will follow at a later date but it's not the good news the government or some people would lead you to believe. Essentially they are going to force you to use the Ombudsman and their seven principles of injustice instead of having the option of using the courts and their seven principles of justice. Although they will give the Ombudsmen the right to refer a point of law to the courts this is not the same as you having direct access to a just and fair system of redress.
        "Plans to reform "outdated and inconsistent" public service ombudsmen will make it easier to complain about poor services, the Law Commission said today.
        The shake-up aims to bring consistency to the way the main public services ombudsmen do business and make it easier for the public to seek redress.

        It will also help keep cases out of court, the Law Commission, which reviews and recommends reform of the law in England and Wales, said.

        Frances Patterson QC, the Law Commissioner leading on the project, said: "The public services ombudsmen have a vital role to play in providing remedies for administrative injustice suffered by individuals.

        "By improving access to these ombudsmen, we can reduce the burden that falls on the citizen, public bodies and the courts, and realise savings for citizens and Government."

        The commission's proposals include a strengthening of the role of Parliament, a general presumption in favour of a public services ombudsman being able to open a complaint, and a stay and transfer power allowing matters to be transferred from the courts to the ombudsmen.

        It also recommended dispensing with the requirements that a complaint must be in writing and that complaints to the parliamentary ombudsman must go through an MP.

        Its consultation, which closes on December 3, focuses on the work of the parliamentary commissioner, the local government ombudsman, health service commissioners, the independent housing ombudsman and the public services ombudsmen for Wales."

        Saturday, August 28, 2010

        The Local Government Ombudsman and their seven pillars of injustice

        Now updated: Once you have read this post please read the twelve pillars of injustice!

        This post is a continuation of my previous post

        Can you imagine a judge helping a defendant avoid the charges or even being too incompetent to understand the issues? It could happen but very rarely does because of seven key elements.

        The seven pillars of justice.

        (1) Court proceedings are held in public,
        (2) either side can appeal a judgement on a finding of fact,
        (3) the judge is qualified, 
        (4) a judge can't delegate their job to a junior member of staff, 
        (5) all evidence is shown to both sides,
        (6) a judge can't talk to one side without the other side being present,
        (7) any out of court settlement is agreed between the two parties. The judge plays no part.

        Therefore, if a court was run in the way an LGO's office is run it would be exposed very quickly as a ludicrously unfair, unjust and corrupt system of administrative justice.

        Luckily for Councils the LGO use their own unjust and perverse system

        The seven pillars of LGO injustice.

        (1) They work in private,  
        (2) you can't appeal their findings of fact,
        (3) they don't have to be qualified for the job, (current examples 1 2 3 older example 4) 
        (4) they can, and indeed do, delegate their job to a junior member of staff no matter how unqualified or incompetent,
        (5) they don't have to show all the evidence to the complainant and they usually don't [See A below],
        (6) they can and often do talk to the council without the complainant being aware any discussion took place [See B below],
        (7) they settle the complaint with the council. A complainant can't refuse such a settlement [See C below].

        Making it much easier for them to bury their devious and underhand tactics or incompetence. Together with most of the maladministration their friends and ex colleagues in local government are guilty of.

        In addition, as far as the culture of the organisation is concerned, their staff have been known to lie to complainants, fabricate documents, and illegally initiate complaints with apparent impunity.

        As a result they have the means the motive and the power, should they wish to use it (and they often do as their own statistics prove), to help their ex colleagues in local government out of  any complaint of maladministration leading to injustice they want.

        Essentially they work in a similar fashion to the old court of star chamber but whilst that was set up to protect the Monarchy the modern day LGO were set up to protect local government.

        For more about Court's of Star Chamber please read my earlier post.

        [A] We now have such an unjust system of administrative justice that complaints have to rely on the Freedom of Information Act in an attempt to obtain documents and evidence on which the LGO base their decisions on, one example here.

        [B] This has been proven time and time again. The LGO often ring up the council, without the knowledge of the complainant, and agree not to investigate the complaints based on the one sided and unverified assertions of the council. This happened in the Bachin's case some 20 years ago, mine some 8 years ago and is still happening today.

        [C] Local settlements are nothing more than a con trick, a devious attempt to deceive the public, because they are not agreed locally and they don't settle a complaint. All they are is an agreement between the Local Government Ombudsman and a Council to stop investigating the complaint should the Council agree to apologise or pay the complainant a paltry sum of money. Basically they allow a Council to buy off a proper and full investigation for an average payment of £534.

        The LGO don't usually to tell a complainant that, following their imposition of a local settlement,  a complainant is still free to seek legal redress against the Council for any legal wrongdoing. All the LGO determine or locally settle is simple (none illegal [See an explanation of maladministration below]) maladministration and cannot  determine any legal issues,  Thus all complainants, who have had their complaint locally settled by the LGO, should seek legal advice to see if the Council also broke any laws or statutory obligations and if they did ask their solicitor to take legal action against the Council. All least they dispense proper justice.

        Maladministration: The term maladministration can be deceptive because the term can be applied to everything a public authority does wrong, however, the LGO cannot determine any legal issues, only a court can do that. Thus Local Government Ombudsmen can't determine all maladministration, even if they would like you to believe the can. 

        Therefore, it is paramount that complainants differentiate between legal maladministration and illegal maladministration. Whilst all illegal acts by a public authority are maladministration, not all acts of maladministration are illegal.

        LGO: Devious and underhand tactics or just plain incompetence?

        Like to know some of the underhand and devious tactics Local Government Ombudsmen use to help their ex colleagues and friends in Local Authorities escape the consequences of maladministration. Here are three I have personally experienced.

        The first was used by Mrs Pat Thomas, the Local Government Ombudsman who, at the time of my first complaint (1997), was in charge of the York office. They just ignored one of my complaints altogether,  the second of three which was about the Council bodging the road to extracted themselves from their self created difficulties.

        A devious little tactic that's often effective, as many complainants will testify.

        [Rather than ignoring a complaint altogether, a more common and subtle variation is for the LGO to rewrite or interpret the complaint in a way which makes it easier for a council to defend.]

        However, in my case her efforts backfired spectacularly, even though she thought she had provided them with an escape route, bodge the road, they couldn't do so because they didn't have the legal authority. The Council were in a catch 22 situation (a logical paradox), which they and Pat Thomas had clearly failed to appreciate at the time.

        Although as highway authority they could technically bodge a highway, the road in question, at the material time, was not a highway. It would only become a highway when a Stage 2 certificate of completion had been issued. And the written condition stated that this would only happen when the road had been completed to the planned and bonded standards. In essence they couldn't use Pat Thomas' escape route until the road was completed to standard, and if it was, there would be no need to bodge the road.

        That's why they didn't attempt to do so for some 9 years. Until of course the York office now under the control of Anne Seex, wrongly found in 2008 that the Council, as highway authority, did have the legal right to bodge a road, (which at the material time of my complaint was not a highway), in order to turn it into a highway.

        Essentially by putting the cart before the horse, in order to overcome the catch 22 situation, Mrs Seex' office had found a devious way for the Council to extricate themselves from their self created difficulties. However, in doing so, they just provided further evidence of the lengths they will go to in order to extricate a council from their self created difficulties. Which was one of my objectives in forcing them to investigate my second complaint.

        [Other variations on this destroy the basis of the complaint theme include, written policy being interpreted as a mere guidance  note, facts and law in favour of the complainant ignored altogether or dismissed as irrelevant, irrelevant facts or law in favour of the council introduced as relevant and the introduction of delay until the Council have had the time to move the goal posts. (This devious delay tactic was also used with my second complaint, the LGO refusing to investigate my 2002 for 4 years until the council had managed to move the goal posts.)]

        Three simple examples of how a Local Government Ombudsman office will do their level best to extricate local authorities (and themselves) from the consequences of  maladministration. The LGO's only defence would be to argue that the staff in the York office are not devious and underhand they are merely incompetent. And having had dealings with a number of them in the York office, I certainly think there is more than a little merit in that defence. :) 

        Although based on personal experience, it is my humble opinion that all three can, in different degrees and at various times, be used to describe the York Office. Now if you think that's bad there is much worse to come, see my next post.

        Sunday, August 22, 2010

        Spending Challenge: Another update on getting rid of the LGO

        Further to my earlier update regarding the Government's spending challenge and my original post on the subject I can report that the site is now live once again allowing the public to rate suggestions.

        The following are a few examples regarding the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). Please rate them now, the more people who vote the more chance we have of the Government taking a suggestion seriously. Please note, I know of a couple that appear to have been merged some that have been edited and at least one that has not been published, I hope they don't tinker with this website as they did with their now discredited petition website.  

        Unfortunately it already looks like they are up to their old tricks. Having been off-line for so long they are now giving people only a few days, until the end of August, in which to rate/vote for an idea. In addition the last couple of weeks in August are traditionally the most popular weeks to go on holiday or prepare for the new school term. Plus we have the Bank Holiday Weekend! Is anyone else suspicious of the timing? It looks like they don't really want people rating suggestions.

        Local Government Ombudsman office is a sham and irrational waste of very limited funds

        The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO)  office is  a very costly   financial burden which  we cannot afford or justify the existence of. After more than ten years of dealing with the LGO office , I have reached the conclusion that it is everything that it is not supposed to be ( ie ineffectual, unaccountable,  unjust, unhelpful, secretive, out-dated and biased against complainants).....more....

        Close down the LGO

        The Government could close down the LGO, give every single complainant, not just the lucky 23.6%, £1000 and still save the taxpayer over £7.1 million pounds.....more....

        Revolutionise or preferably abolish the LGO

        Revolutionise - or preferably abolish - the LGO, Local Government Ombudsman. It is currently a waste of money, time and effort....more....

        Get rid of the LGO

        Get rid of the Local Gov Ombudsman. They are simply Local Gov Defence Counsel....more....

        Get rid of the LGO (2)

        Get rid of the Local Government Ombudsman. It cost a fortune. Does very little (as records prove) for complainants as it comprises of ex high ranking Council staff....more....

        Get rid of the Local Government Ombudsman

         Get rid of the Local Government Ombudsman. It is a toothless tiger and costs far more to run than it gets back for electors. They are poor at investigation....more....

        Abolish the Local Government Ombudsman

        Abolish the Local Government Ombudsman (costing over 16m pa) and replace with an organisation which is truly impartial, not full of ex local council employees with a strong bias to bury council maladministration.....more....
        Scrap the discredited Local Government Ombudsman

        Scrap the discredited Local Government Ombudsman and replace them with an independent tribunal. The Government is wasting vast sums of money on a system of administrative justice that does not work....more..... 

        The Office of the Local Government Ombudsman should be closed

        The Offiice of the Local Government Ombudsman should be closed as the number of complaints that are actually investigated and brought to a satisfactory conclusion is so few that the operation is not worth the money to run it....more....

        Abolish or reform the ombudsmen systems

        They were set up, with the best intentions of politicians, by civil servants and local government bureaucrats. They set them up to be powerless, and, staffed and manned, on the whole by Insiders.....more....

        Local Government Ombudsman

        The York Local Government Ombudsman is like a holiday home for civil servants.  The live in total luxury along with their own gardens and tennis court.....more....

        Local Government Ombudsman (2)

        The local government ombudsman service costs around £20m per year but in the main its retired LG officers.......more...

        Friday, August 13, 2010

        What's good for the Audit Commission is good for the Commission for Local Administration in England. Get rid of them now!

        Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles:   'The corporate centre of the Audit Commission has lost its way. Rather than being a watchdog that champions taxpayers' interests, it has become the creature of the Whitehall state.'

        Whilst, for the present, appearing to ignore the fact that the Commission for Local Administration in England (The Local Government Ombudsmen) is in exactly the same position regarding local taxpayer's interests.

        They lost their way in 1995 when they started to recruit Ombudsmen and staff from Local Government. So much so that they have become a creature of Local Government and no longer act as an effective watchdog that champions local taxpayer's interests.

        Thursday, August 12, 2010

        More information about Local? Settlements

        In a recent FOI request to Torbay Council I asked

        "In your recent Local Government annual review it states that the Local Government Ombudsman locally settled 4 complaints with Torbay Council. 

        As you are aware a local settlement is agreed between the Local Government Ombudsman's office and the Council. The complainant cannot refuse any settlement agreed between the two said public authorities.

        In all 4 cases I would like any and all information you hold about the negotiations behind the settlements of these cases together with the job title of the LGO staff and Council staff involved in the negotiations."

        In their response they state

        "Torbay Council did not negotiate with the Local Government Ombudsman with regards to the settlements on these cases. All settlements suggested by the LGO were accepted by the Council." [my emphasis]


        So the question remains. If the LGO set the level of compensation (in this case from an office in Coventry), the council (in this case Torbay in Devon) agree, how the hell does the LGO get away with calling it a local settlement? Especially since the complainant cannot refuse the settlement.

        Tuesday, July 27, 2010

        Has another document fabricated by the LGO come to light?

        A few years ago I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Council for a copy of a letter they should have received from the Local Government Ombudsman.

        I had already been sent a copy of the letter the LGO had purportedly sent to the council but wanted to prove if the council had in fact been sent a letter at all.

        Now all the council had to say in response to my FOI request was that they didn't have the letter I requested. However, they didn't, they went out of their way to contact the LGO's office, who at the Council's request, fabricated another letter so the Council could give me the impression they had actually received the original. When I received the information and compared the two letters I was gob-smacked.

        Not only was the content of the two letters different the original letter I received was printed on their old letter head and signed by Pat Thomas, the then LGO whilst the Council's copy sent in response to my FOI request was printed on the LGO's new letter head and signed by Anne Seex, an LGO who wasn't even in post when the letter was supposedly written and sent to them.

        Naturally I complained but as usual with the Local Government Ombudsman's office they don't appear to see anything wrong with fabricating documents to help a Council....or themselves as this later evidence would suggest....whilst recently reading the LGO's responses to various FOI requests on the What Do They Know website I came across another document apparently fabricated by the LGO

        This time an official CLAE document signed by Pat Thomas 5 years after she retired as LGO and Vice Chair of the Commission for Local Administration (CLAE). Is the signature genuine? If it is why is Pat Thomas signing CLAE documents 5 years after she retired and does she indeed have the authority to do so? Or are the CLAE just trying to clean up the audit trail regarding Redmond's trip to Australia because of an embarrassing FOI request?

        Authoritarians have an extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of the man who can fabricate it (Hannah Arendt: Origins of Totalitarianism). And the LGO certainly have the power!

        Why don't the LGO and their staff fully understand the law?

        LGO legal assistants don't appear to fully understand the law, more specifically in this case Section 32(2) of the 1974 Local Government Act. Therefore, is it any wonder that Ms Pook and Nigel Karney have also got it wrong in the past. In addition can complainants have any faith in their complaints being handled correctly if the LGO and their staff don't even understand the Statute that governs them?

        The following is an extract from a response to a freedom of information request made via the What Do They Know website.

        Section 32(2) Local Government Act 1974:

        As Ms Pook has explained, everything we do is governed by the Local Government Act 1974.

        That Act contains a statutory prohibition on the disclosure of information (s32(2) LGA 1974). This statutory bar maintains that the Local Government Ombudsmen shall not disclose information except in the furtherance of an investigation (or for a number of other limited reasons which do not apply to your request).

        Accordingly, we are unable to release information outside the context of an investigation: s44 FOIA 2000 applies and, in respect of information the disclosure of which would breach s32(2) LGA 1974 an ‘absolute’ exemption bites against the right to be given information under FOIA 2000.

        In your circumstances you therefore have no rights to the information under the FOIA 2000.

        Whilst I appreciate that you have only requested final letters setting out the findings of local settlements (and not the entire contents of complaint files) s32(2) LGA 1974 makes no such distinction.

        For these reasons I can see no basis on which to question Ms Pook’s handling of your request.

        That concludes the Commission’s handling of this matter. If you consider that I have not dealt with your request properly you can raise the matter with the Information Commissioner (www.ico.gov.uk).

        Yours sincerely,
        Mark Lant, Legal Assistant

        However, Section 32(2) states no such thing. This is what the act actually states.

        32 (2) Information obtained [my emphasis] by a Local Commissioner, or any officer of either Commission, in the course of or for the purposes of an investigation under this Part of this Act shall not be disclosed [my emphasis] except—

        (a) for the purposes of the investigation and of any report to be made under section 30 or section 31 above; or

        (b) for the purposes of any proceedings for an offence under the Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1939 alleged to have been committed in respect of information obtained, by virtue of this Part of this Act, by a Local Commissioner or by an officer of either Commission or for an offence of perjury alleged to have been committed in the course of an investigation under this Part of this Act or for the purposes of an inquiry with a view to the taking of such proceedings, or
        (c)for the purpose of any proceedings under section 29(9) above,

        and a Local Commissioner and the officers of his Commission shall not be called upon to give evidence in any proceedings (other than proceedings within paragraph (b) or (c) above) of matters coming to his or their knowledge in the course of an investigation under this Part of this Act.

        Therefore there is NO statutory bar on information as such being disclosed, only information obtained by them from others. 
        In a previous decision notice the information Commissioner states

        "It is the Commissioner’s [Information Commissioner] opinion that section 32(2) LGA does not act as a blanket exemption to all of the information it holds in its complaint file. [my emphasis] Having said this, the Commissioner recognises that information which is not exempt constitutes only a fraction of the information held by the public authority [LGO]." 

        In addition the information Commissioner goes on to clearly explains the true purpose of Section 32(2).

        The Commissioner considers that the purpose of section 32(2) LGA was to ensure that information pertaining to an investigation carried out by the public authority is kept confidential. Were information obtained in the course of or for the purposes of an investigation released, it could serve to undermine the public  authority’s ability to conduct further investigations and that this would not be in the  public interest. If the various parties involved in the investigation of a complaint thought that information they supply to the public authority in the course of, or for the purposes of, an investigation could be disclosed then they may be less willing to co-operate with any investigation. [My Emphasis]

        In this case the LGO did not obtain all of the information requested they created most of it. Unless they are suggesting that the public authority under investigation actually supplied their own outcomes, findings and recommendations?  Therefore, the information in the documents should be supplied with, if necessary, any confidential third party provided information redacted.

        Saturday, July 24, 2010

        Torbay: A Local? Settlement is just maldministration by another name!

        The most recent annual reviews (previous called annual letters) sent to all councils about their performance in dealing with complaints made about them to the Local Government Ombudsman have recently been published.

        When some councils publicise their annual review they place great emphasis on the fact that the Local Government Ombudsman has not found any maladministration. However, this totally ignores the fact that they and the Local Government Ombudsman settled numerous cases of maladministration.

        What councils don't appear to understand is that a local settlement means only one thing, they have paid compensation for an act of maladministration.

        The fact that Councils and the Local Government Ombudsman have a duplicitous arrangement to avoid Council wrongdoings being recorded as maladministration does not detract from the fact that if they had not been guilty of any wrongdoing they would not have had to pay compensation to settle cases.

        When are the Local Government Ombudsmen and Councils going to stop manipulating the true levels of council maladministration?

        Here is an example of serious maladministration that was NOT recorded as maladministration by the Local Government Ombudsman. Jerry White Local Government Ombudsman, Coventry office,  should be ashamed of himself for not recording this as a serious act of maladministration leading to injustice.

        [Jerry White the then Ombudsman has now retired and has been replaced with Dr Jane Martin]

        "A council apologised today and admitted paying £12,000 in compensation to two girls who were sexually abused by two children in care. Torbay Council in Devon paid £6,000 to each abused girl after their parents complained and agreed to review its risk management policies and procedures.

        The case emerged in the Local Government Ombudsman's annual report for the financial year 2009/10. It revealed the council failed to adequately assess the risk posed by placing the children next door to the girls.

        It also failed to offer appropriate support to the complainants and their daughters following the abuse. Torbay Council chief executive Elizabeth Raikes said: "We completely accept the Ombudsman's decision to award these four local settlements and apologise for any distress caused to the complainants."


        Why are such serious acts of maladministration leading to injustice not recorded or reported as such by the Local Government Ombudsman? Notice the complete absence of the word maladministration in the article and the LGO's failure to record it a such in their annual review of Torbay Council.

        In 2009/10 the Local Government Ombudsman took decisions on 26 complaints against Torbay Council. In 11 cases they found no or insufficient evidence of maladministration. 7 complaints were outside their jurisdiction (How an earth a Local Government Ombudsman can take a decision on a complaint that is outside their jurisdiction to take a decision on is beyond me.) and in 4 cases Torbay Council agreed to settle the complaint. The LGO exercised discretion not to investigate a further 4 cases. Typically these are cases where, even though there may have been some fault by the council, there is no significant injustice to the complainant.

        26 complaints, £18,800 compensation paid by Torbay Council for the injustice they caused through their maladministration to 4 complainants yet not 1 case of maladministration leading to injustice recorded or reported as such by the Local Government Ombudsman.

        The Local Government Ombudsman who tried to bury this serious act of maladministration as a local settlement may consider it settled but the complainants certainly don't.


        And the LGO wonder why complainants think they are duplicitous!

        Why not download your councils annual review and see how economical with the truth the Local Government Ombudsman has been when recording and reporting their true levels of maladministration. 

        Footnote:  The Local Government Ombudsmen invented local settlements years ago as a way of avoiding having to find a public authority guilty of maladministration for a number of reasons. (a) It saved them the time and effort of having to conduct a proper investigation and produce a formal report. (b) It gave them a carrot with which to dangle before the public authority, 'settle the case locally before we complete the investigation and you can bury a finding of maladministration' on the cheap. Local Government Ombudsmen prefer not to issue a maladministration report and recommend compensation because councils can ignore their recommendations with impunity. (c) It allowed the public authority concerned to boast that the Local Government Ombudsman had not upheld a complaint of maladministration against them. The only loser is the complainant who has the settlement forced upon them.

        It is important to realise that Local Settlements are agreed between one of the three Local Government Ombudsman's offices in the country and the public authority concerned. The complainant has NO say in the matter. The word local was deviously introduced by the LGO to give the impression that settlements are made locally between the Council and the Complainant when they are not.  There is nothing local about a local settlement.

        Sunday, July 18, 2010

        Spending Challenge: An update on getting rid of the LGO

        For some reason the Government Spending Challenge website has stopped people adding comments to spending challenge suggestions so I thought I would use a work around and advise others to do the same. Whilst you are no longer allowed to vote or comment on suggestions already made you can still submit one of your own. Therefore, I have submitted my own suggestion about the Local Government Ombudsman and suggest others now do the same. Click here to submit your suggestion

        My suggestion is copied below but you can word your own suggestion in any way you want.

        Scrap the discredited Local Government Ombudsman and replace them with an independent tribunal. The Government is wasting vast sums of money on a system of administrative justice that does not work. Spending taxpayers money on a system designed to bury local authority maladministration is expensive and counter productive, you need a system which improves local administration by exposing, not burying, local authority wrongdoings.

        Thursday, July 15, 2010

        Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who's guarding the guards?

        An interesting article by Martin Hannan published by the Edinburgh News starts by asking an interesting question, Who's guarding public's guards?

        Although his article is about standards in public life and the standards commission in Scotland, the same question could be asked about the Commission for Local Administration in England, more commonly known as the Local Government Ombudsman.

        Who ensures they are doing their job properly? The answer, surprisingly, is the same people who they are supposed to be protecting the public from, the public sector.

        Can you imagine if the inmates of a prison were also in charge of ensuring that prison guards did their job properly. Would they really be interested in an effective and efficient system or would they ensure the system is run for their benefit and not that of the general public.

        The Local Government Ombudsman is a con! Set up by the public sector to protect the public sector. Why else would all Ombudsmen and the majority of their staff be ex Local Authority or ex Government Department? Because the Public Sector is looking after itself, they don't want an effective Watchdog looking at their wrongdoings.

        Public Sector protecting the Public Sector via puppets known as the Local Government Ombudsmen to give the public the impression that they have a Watchdog. Whilst in reality Local Government Ombudsmen are not Watchdogs at all they are more like neutered poodles kept in line (i.e. fed, watered, pulled into line and put down if they don't obey) by the Public Sector.


             York, Fluffy?          Coventry, Fifi?         London, Fido?

        Wednesday, July 14, 2010

        New Government Spending Challenge: Get rid of the LGO

        A recent suggestion to the New Governments Spending Challenge suggests getting rid of the discredited Local Government Ombudsmen and replacing them with an independent, fair, honest, accountable, efficient and helpful  alternative.  Please consider voting for this suggestion and leaving a comment. 

        Wednesday, June 30, 2010

        Scottish Public Service Ombudsman Petition

        I and many others no longer support petitions sent to the discredited Number 10 petition website because they have been known to remove names from petitions without keeping a record of who was removed or for what reason. However, they have a different system in Scotland which at the moment has not been discredited so I still support Scottish petitions.

        Public audit of annual expenditure by the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman

        Read the background to the petition    Sign the petition    Add your comments

        Please note: The petition closes on the 25th August 2010

        Monday, June 28, 2010

        LGO spin: What lies beneath

        On the about us page of the Local Government Ombudsman's website they give a few key 'facts' about the Ombudsmen. However, you need to take everything they say with a pinch of salt. Below is their list of 'facts' in black together with further information in blue. Information they would prefer remained unpublished.

        About us: Key facts about the Ombudsmen

        • There are three Local Government Ombudsmen in England.
        There are three ex council officers acting as  'faux' Local Government Ombudsmen in England. See my earlier posts.
        • We make our decisions independently of all government departments, councils and politicians.
        All three Local Government Ombudsmen and the majority of their staff are ex council. The majority of the rest are ex government departments.  In addition there is evidence that they are told what their decisions should be. Here is an  example. There is also further evidence which proves that Local Government Ombudsmen will also change their decision over a recommended remedy should the council decide differently. Here is an example.
        • We examine complaints without taking sides. We are not consumer champions.
        A 'citizen's champion' was the original definition of an Ombudsman and was the reason why they were introduced in the first place. They used to level the playing field between an individual citizen and a large public authority. By remaining neutral the Local Government Ombudsmen are ignoring the inherent bias against the individual which the original Ombudsman was introduced to overcome. 

        ["If, like Local Government Ombudsmen, you remain impartial in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are impartial, the mouse will not appreciate your impartiality."]
        • We are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen. 
        True but only done to give the impression of independence from Local and National Government. In reality a Government Department, also responsible for Local Government, select the Ombudsman and tell the Queen to rubber stamp the appointment. Why do you think every new Local Government Ombudsman recruited since 1995 is ex council. The last thing the Government Department responsible for Local Government want is an effective Ombudsman.
        • We have the same powers as the High Court to obtain information and documents.
        This is true but a power they rarely if ever use to obtain evidence a council don't want to give them.
        • Our decisions are final and cannot be appealed. However, you can challenge them in the High Court if you think our reasoning has a legal flaw.
        True but that doesn't worry a council because they can ignore anything the Local Government Ombudsman recommends. Although you can challenge them in the high court by way of a judicial review this is restricted to legal flaws. If, as often happens, the Local Government Ombudsman wants to stuff you they just manipulate the facts rather than the law. You could appeal a finding of fact but as the Local Government Ombudsmen rightly state you cannot appeal one of their decisions. Neat or what!
        • We do not have to investigate every complaint received, even if we have the power to do so. For example, we may decide not to investigate if we think the problem you mention would have affected you only slightly. 
        True and one of the most devious ways a Local Government Ombudsman has for burying a complaint for a council. They have the statutory discretion over their decision whether to investigate a complaint or not. Making it very difficult if not impossible to overturn by way of a judicial review. 
        • We are committed to providing a fair service and spending public money effectively.
        This is just nonsense. Last year it cost them some £1,353 of tax payers money to determine every single complaint (within their remit to determine). Whilst the average compensation recommended for the small number of those complainants lucky enough to obtain a positive outcome was £750. In addition as I have previously stated councils often refuse to provide the recommended remedy so the figure of £750 will in reality be much less. How is that fair and an effective use of public money? Furthermore, I note from reading Freedom of Information request submitted to the Local Government Ombudsman that there are questions being asked about tax payer funded trips to Australia and Canada at public expense. Finally is it fair is councils can change Ombudsmen if they don't like the outcome but complainants can't or that councils can ignore the Ombudsman with impunity?
        • We do not charge for using our service.
        True but there is a reason, nobody would use them. Especially when you realise that you only have about a 20% chance of getting an average of about £750 compensation but the cost would be £1,353 whether you are one of the lucky ones or not. Not exactly good odds or value for money by any stretch of the imagination. Most solicitors can obtain an average of about £5,000 compensation, some 7 times more than the LGO.  In this world you get what you pay for, Local Government Ombudsmen are free for one reason and one reason only, they are what could colloquially best be described as crap.
        • When we find that a council has done something wrong, we may recommend how it should put it right. Although we cannot make councils do what we recommend, they are almost always willing to act on what we say.
        True that a council can ignore them with impunity but not true that councils are almost willing to act on what they say. A significant number of councils have ignored Local Government Ombudsmen over the years and the situation is getting worse.  So bad they recently resorted to manipulating their compliances statistics.

        Sunday, June 27, 2010

        Faux Ombudsmen V Real Ombudsmen: Reason 4 Final Arbiter?

        Public Sector Ombudsmen often make a big deal about being the final arbiter regarding complaints.

        Taking the Local Government Ombudsman as an example, they state
        • 'Our decisions are final and cannot be appealed.' 
        However, that is far from the whole truth. In reality the local authority not the Local Government Ombudsman is the final arbiter because they can and do ignore Local Government Ombudsman with impunity.

        In addition many acts of maladministration are also illegal, so whilst the Local Government Ombudsman may have dealt with the none illegal aspects of a complaint, because they have no authority to determine legal rights, the complainant has recourse to the courts.
        Public Service Ombudsmen: The final arbiters?
        Pull the other one!

        Faux Ombudsmen V Real Ombudsmen: Reason 3 Fairness

        Public Sector Ombudsmen often make a big deal about offering a fair service but is the system they operate really that fair?

        Take the Local Government Ombudsman for example, they state 
        • 'We are committed to providing a fair service'.
        • 'When we find that a council has done something wrong, we may recommend how it should put it right. Although we cannot make councils do what we recommend'
        Hang on a moment, how can they argue their service is fair when a local authority can ignore their recommendations with impunity?

        Take Wilma Wright's case as an example, she submitted a complaint about Trafford Council, the Local Government Ombudsman found Trafford Council guilty of maladministration and recommended they pay Wilma Wright £100,000 for the injustice her daughter had suffered through Trafford Council's maladministration, Trafford Council ignored the Local Government Ombudsman's recommendations with impunity. How an earth is that fair?

        If Local Government Ombudsmen were committed to providing a fair service surely they would have asked the government to remove this patently unfair one sided loophole long ago.

        Local Government Ombudsman: 'We are committed to providing a fair service'. 
         Pull the other one!

        Faux Ombudsmen V Real Ombudsmen: Reason 2 Independence

        Public Sector Ombudsmen often make a big deal about declaring their independence but are they as independent as a real Ombudsman should be?

        Take the Local Government Ombudsman as an example, 
        • They are sponsored by the same government department that also has a responsibility for local government.
        • The majority of their staff are ex local government (the majority of the remainder being ex government departments)  
        • All three Ombudsmen ex local government.
        Local Government Ombudsmen: Independent from local government? 
        Pull the other one!

        Saturday, June 26, 2010

        Faux Ombudsmen V Real Ombudsmen: Reason 1 Impartiality

        [Wikiepedia: The origin of the word Ombudsman is found in Old Norse umbuĂ°smann and the word umbuds man, meaning representative (with the word umbud/ombud meaning proxy, that is someone who is authorized to act for someone else, a meaning it still has in the Scandinavian languages).]

        A real Ombudsman by acting as a citizens champion, representative or proxy could overcome the inherent imbalance between the citizen and a public authority.

        Instead of a David V Goliath scenario the citizen could count on the help of the Ombudsman to level the 'playing field' between themselves and the public authority and would not be disadvantaged by Public authorities throwing massive financial, legal and human resources into intimidating the citizen into submission.

        Unfortunately when the British Government sought to introduce Ombudsmen into this country they decided not to introduce the Real Ombudsman model, preferring instead to introduce a variation, the so called impartial or Faux Ombudsman. Thus maintaining the inherent imbalance between the citizen and public authorities whilst at the same time, by calling them Ombudsmen, maintaining the false pretence that they had actually introduced a Real Ombudsman.

        So whilst Ombudsmen in many other countries, those that haven't adopted the British model, still act as a citizen's champion, representative or proxy we now have Ombudsmen who proudly boasts they are impartial and don't take sides. Thus providing little if any help to the citizen when faced with a system inherently and significantly biased in favour of the public authority.

        A slightly modified quote from Desmond Tutu summarises the problem regarding impartiality.

        "If, like Local Government Ombudsmen, you remain impartial in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are impartial, the mouse will not appreciate your impartiality."

        More to follow.

        Friday, June 25, 2010

        Government considers ombudsman merger

        The government is considering merging the Housing Ombudsman Service with the Local Government Ombudsman.

        I have just checked out the latest Housing Ombudsman statistics and their website and find they are as misleading as the LGO's when it comes to interpreting statistics and telling the full story on their website. It would appear that they both use spin, mirrors and smoke to hide the truth about their real purpose and effectiveness. Which will at least make merging these Ombudsmen much easier, two deceitful peas in one pod.

        They both need to stop pretending that they are real Ombudsmen at all, let alone effective? 

        They are nothing but 'faux' or pretend Ombudsmen' (similar to plastic Police). Ones who do not embrace the values of a true Ombudsmen whilst overcoming this shortcoming by manipulating  statistics, publications and information, Thus making themselves appear to be as effective as a real Ombudsman to their website visitors, complainants and tenants.

        Wednesday, June 23, 2010

        LGO email retention policy

        Has your Local Government Ombudsman's office told you that they don't keep your emails? Don't believe anything they say. Here is an example of the truth

        The following blue text is a copy of a certified email tracking record regarding an email I sent to Anne Seex, Local Government Ombudsman, York office, on the 25th April 2008.

        As you will see from the record below my email was first opened on the 25 April 2008. (For those unaware the LGO now use the services of efax.com in America. In addition they often use them as a proxy when visiting blogs and websites that criticise the LGO.) However, what is more interesting is the latest date my email was opened, the 15th June 2010 [Record number 7 in bold], over 2 years 2 months after sending it and first being read by Mrs Seex [Record number 3 in bold]. (Again for those unaware, the tracking record is typical of those emails opened by Mrs Seex on her personal Blackberry PDA.]

        To       a.seex@lgo.org.uk     
        From       trevornunn

        Subject      Re: Letter from Cheshire County Council, we are still waiting.
        Sent on      25-Apr-08 at 18:00:39pm 'GB' time
        1st Open      25-Apr-08 at 18:31:02pm   +01:00  Massachusetts, United States

        Tracking Details

         
        1: Opened
        Opened     25-Apr-08 at 18:31:02pm (UTC +01:00)   -   30mins 23secs after sending
        Location     Massachusetts, United States
        Opened on     208.51.227.178.efax.com (208.51.227.178:24896)
        Language     of recipient's PC: en-gb (English/United Kingdom)
        Browser     used by recipient: Moz/4.0 (MSIE 6.0; WinNT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
        Last log     No more activity after 25-Apr-08 at 18:32:13pm (UTC +01:00)  

        2: Re-Opened
        Opened     25-Apr-08 at 19:03:34pm (UTC +01:00)   -   1hour 2mins 55secs after sending
        Location     Massachusetts, United States
        Opened on     208.51.227.178.efax.com (208.51.227.178:25420)
        Language     of recipient's PC: en-gb (English/United Kingdom)
        Browser     used by recipient: Moz/4.0 (MSIE 6.0; WinNT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
        Last log     No more activity after 25-Apr-08 at 19:13:02pm (UTC +01:00)  

         
        3: Forwarded
        Opened     26-Apr-08 at 10:26:52am (UTC +01:00)   -   16hours 26mins 13secs after sending
        Location     Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom (86% likelihood)
        Opened on     88-109-223-61.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com (88.109.223.61:1106)
        Language     of recipient's PC: en-gb (English/United Kingdom)
        Browser     used by recipient: Moz/4.0 (MSIE 6.0; WinNT 5.1; SV1; FunWebProducts; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)


        4: Re-opened (by earlier reader #1)
        Opened     12-May-08 at 17:41:20pm (UTC +01:00)   -   16days23hours40mins41secs after sending
        Location     Massachusetts, United States (86% likelihood)
        Opened on     208.51.227.178.efax.com (208.51.227.178:43581)
        Language     of recipient's PC: en-gb (English/United Kingdom)
        Browser     used by recipient: Moz/4.0 (MSIE 6.0; WinNT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)

        5: Re-Opened (by earlier reader #1)

        Opened     4-Aug-08 at 13:36:26pm (UTC +01:00)   -   100days19hours35mins47secs after sending
        Location     Massachusetts, United States
        Opened on     208.51.227.178.efax.com (208.51.227.178:64004)
        Language     of recipient's PC: en-gb (English/United Kingdom)
        Browser     used by recipient: Moz/4.0 (MSIE 6.0; WinNT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)

        6: Forwarded
        Opened     3-Dec-09 at 19:04:02pm (UTC +01:00)   -   587 days 1hour 3mins 23secs after sending
        Location     Massachusetts, United States
        Opened on     208.51.227.178.efax.com (208.51.227.178:21527)
        Browser     used by recipient: Moz/4.0 (MSIE 6.0; WinNT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; MSOffice 12)

        7: Re-Opened (by earlier reader #3)
        Opened     15-Jun-10 at 20:45:12pm (UTC +01:00)   -   781days 2hours 44mins 33secs after sending
        Location     Massachusetts, United States
        Opened on     208.51.227.178.efax.com (208.51.227.178:26968)
        Browser     used by recipient: Moz/4.0 (MSIE 6.0; WinNT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; MSOffice 12)


        Summary   -   as at 23-Jun-10 at 17:45:21pm (UTC +01:00)   -   788days 23hours 44mins 42secs after sending
        Total     Opened 7 times by 3 readers