Thursday, December 22, 2011

The woolly thinking Local Government Omudsman

Council refuses to fork out £260,000 over homes row 

SOUTH Holland’s councillors have refused to pay out compensation of more than £260,000 relating to a controversial housing development or to accept a report accusing them of maladministration.

District council members unanimously disagreed with the findings of the Local Government Ombudsman, who had been investigating a three-year-old complaint into the authority’s actions with the Nestwood Homes development in Old Main Road, Fleet Hargate.

A special meeting was held on Monday to decide what action to take on the report, which recommended compensation be made to the developer for reasons including stress, strain and damage to reputation.

The long-running saga into the site started when new homes were built on a different land level to existing properties, which prompted enforcement action and a public inquiry.

He added: “It seems to me the Ombudsman was thinking somewhat woolily and was at worst biased in favour of this company and against our council unfairly in my opinion.”

Coun Bryan Alcock also raised concerns about the “strange” report.

He said: “I find some of the inflammatory way of talking within the report strange.
“I can recognise the style because it’s one I have used from time to time and that’s why I am not an Ombudsman.”

Councillors had been warned Nestwood Homes may choose to take action through the courts but Coun Francis Biggadike urged his fellow councillors not to be “afraid” if they did not accept the report.

“I believe the Ombudsman’s report was far from factual and not at all impartial,” he said.

Councillors voted in favour of receiving the report but said the council does not intend on paying any compensation.

My comment: Complainants are already aware that most reports by the Local Government Ombudsman are strange, far from factual and not at all impartial but it's interesting that councils are now supporting that view.

Read the full story from the source Spalding Guardian

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to all visitors


So where it Tony Redmond's replacement?

Tony Redmond, Local Government Ombudsman and Chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England retired on the 11th November 2010.

Historically a replacement is recruited before an existing LGO retires, however, This is the second time they have not recruited a replacement Ombudsman until well after their predecessor left.

Rumours  suggest that his replacement was selected long ago but no date has been given when they will take up post.

At least they won't be able to pick up any bad habits from their predecessor. 

My earlier posts on the subject. [1]  [2]

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Local Government Ombudsmen and other watchdogs: The final insult

The Local Government Ombudsman costs the taxpayer many £millions a year. Other watchdogs and ombudsmen cost considerably more.

The bodies they supposedly investigate for wrongdoing such as local authorities, government departments etc cost the taxpayers many £billions.

Whilst the Local Government Ombudsman only has the power to recommend compensation, should they find a public body guilty of wrongdoing, other watchdogs, such as the Information Commission, can actually fine them.

However, recommended compensation or fine makes no difference to my 'final insult' argument.

No matter who is responsible within a public body and no matter how serious the offence, all our pathetic watchdogs can do is use a financial deterrent against the public body not individuals within a public body. Which means that the taxpayer also picks up the tab for any public body wrongdoing.

A triple whammy for the taxpayer. 
(1) they have to pay for all public bodies.
(2) they have to pay for all the public service ombudsmen and watchdogs.
(3) they have to pay the compensation or fine.
Here are a couple of examples to illustrate my point.

(1) The Information found two councils guilty of losing unencrypted laptops containing sensitive personal data and fined them a total of £150,000. (There are many other examples available.)

Both laptops were password protected but unencrypted – despite this being in breach of both councils’ policies.

It must have been someone’s responsibly to ensure all laptops were encrypted. Therefore, the ICO should have the powers to force the council to sack, or at least discipline, the individual responsible not fine taxpayers for their wrongdoing.

(2) The Local Government Ombudsman recently found a council guilty of maladministration and recommended they pay £5000 compensation to the victim. (There are many other examples available.)

No one appears to have been sacked or even disciplined because the ombudsman states 'There has been comprehensive staff training since the events in Ms B’s complaint and so the Ombudsman has not recommended any further action.'

Unfortunately this case also illustrates a fourth whammy for the taxpayer.

The final  insult is

(4) they also have to pay to train the staff responsible.

So the bottom line is that only victims and taxpayers suffer as a result of public sector wrongdoing. Public bodies, staff guilty of wrongdoing and elected representatives are all winners.

No wonder elected representatives and our public bodies prefer to keep our pathetic system of administrative justice. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Further evidence that Public Service Ombudsmen are not fit for purpose

Further to my previous post 'Evidence that Public Service Ombudsmen are not fit for purpose'.

Another example has now come to light involving both the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and the Local Government Ombudsman which confirms the view that they are clearly not fit for purpose.

This example concerns a man with down's syndrome who was ignored after he was detained in hospital and then locked up before he died. The full story can be read from the source The Telegraph.

The article starts by identify the fact that there were serious failings in the care provided to Mr J by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle City Council and the Coquet Trust.

However, Mrs Seex shoots herself in the foot when she states "The failures in Mr J's case show how public authorities can neglect a vulnerable person's wishes and basic human rights to liberty and family life.

Mrs Seex is a watchdog and this happened on her watch and the reason public authorities can neglect a persons wishes, human rights and family life in the first place is because we don't have any public sector watchdogs who are fit for purpose.

What's even worse than having watchdogs who sleep on their watch is having those who  once they wake reward wrongdoing by the public authorities by recommending pathetic levels of compensation for their wrongdoing. Mr J's  family have been awarded £2,000 for their distress.

Were any of the perpetrators disciplined or sacked? No, just the usual 'lessons will be learnt' and 'procedures will be put into place', which we all know mean  that as soon as the watchdogs go back to sleep everything carries on as before.

Why? Because there is no downside for public sector incompetence and wrongdoing. Worse case scenario is that they may have to give the victim a couple of thousand pounds  and that's taxpayer's money not their own.

One of the comments on the article asks the question, how on earth, in the 21st century, does something like this happen? The answer to that question is because we have ombudsmen and watchdogs who are not fit for purpose.

We need proactive watchdogs, ones who are always on patrol and not sleeping in their taxpayer funded kennels like the current bunch until a scandal forces them into some sort of backside covering action.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Evidence that Public Service Ombudsmen are not fit for purpose

Many people are already aware that Public Service Ombudsmen are not fit for purpose. Note: When I use the term Public Service Ombudsmen I primarily mean the Local Government Ombudsmen (LGO) and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

However, those who are trying to persuade others of this fact now have some help from an unlikely source.  The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) herself.

The PHSO recently stated "Overly-bureaucratic complaint handling leaves people confused and exhausted, and wastes public money."

Whilst this is indeed true it raises a few question which all our public service ombudsmen need to answer.

The PHSO was established in 1967 and the Local Government Ombudsman in 1974. After 44 years and 37 years respectively in the business one would have assumed that by now they would have whipped the public sector complaints system into some sort of shape. So my questions are....

Q1: Just what have you been doing for 44 years and 37 years respectively if it has taken you this long to realise that our administrative complaints systems are not fit for purpose?

Q2: If it didn't take you 44 years and 37 years respectively to realise our administrative complaints systems are not fit for purpose, why didn't you address the issue much earlier?

Q3: Why have you waited until the 2 longest serving LGOs retired and you are about to retire before publicly declaring what I and many others have known for years? That the system of administrative justice in this country is and never has been fit for purpose.

It's no wonder other watchdogs such as the Local Government Ombudsman and Care Quality Commission are so bad when the PHSO has taken 44 years to realises the complaints system is unfit for purpose and only publicises the fact just before she retires.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Local Government Ombudsman: Pot, kettle - what a joke!

Ombudsman identifies common faults of school admission appeal panels

Lack of communication with parents, absence of impartiality and a failure to accurately record events have all been identified as common failures of school admission appeal panels.

In its latest report the local government ombudsman concludes that school admission appeal panels often make recurring mistakes, subjecting parents and children to unjust rulings.

Read the full story from the source Children and Young People Now.

My comment: How strange because these are exactly the same problems faced by complainant when they submit a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. 

The LGO offices have an absence of impartiality (they believe the word of a council officer even when overwhelming evidence to the contrary is available. Well they would do because most of them are ex local authority.) and nobody makes more mistakes and unjust ruling than the Local Government Ombudsman, well they would do because most of them are ex local authority. What a joke the LGO have become,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The LGO's Dumb and Dumber?

Background: I have been off-line for a while due to a series of unfortunate events. Firstly my computer crashed and it took quite a while reinstall all my programs and back up files. Unfortunately this happened just a day or so before I was due to go into hospital for a long awaited operation.

I was expecting to be in hospital for two or three days but ended up being in for a week. In addition, I was in one of the wards that hadn't yet had the TV/Internet/Telephone service installed to each bed which made matters even worse.

As a result when I returned home and switched on my computer my email imbox was overflowing with mail. To make it easier for myself I decided to tag each email and group them before responding. It is an analysis of these tags that led me to write this post which I decided to misleading call 'The LGO's Dumb and Dumber'.

The analysis of my latest bunch of emails confirmed what I and many other people already knew.
1) More people are dissatisfied with the York Office than the other two LGO Offices put together.
2) Two names keep cropping up with regularity when people complain about the York Office, Mr Hobbs and Mrs Seex.
Hence the title of this post 'The LGO's Dumb and Dumber?'

I first encountered the work of this un-dynamic duo some 5 years ago when they set about trying to cover up the mistakes made by Hobbs and his staff during an earlier (pre Seex) investigation. It would appear from the many emails I receive that their MO hasn't changed after all these years.

To illustrate the point I am trying to make I am using a few of the things they got up to with my complaint. There are many more if you read all the posts on this blog.

1) Mr Hobbs accepting the word of a council solicitor without validation. Even though evidence, contrary to what the solicitor stated, was available and overwhelming.

However, when this was brought to the attention of Mrs Seex she neither castigated Mr Hobbs for accepting the word of a council solicitor without validation or the solicitor for lying to him. Neither did she put into place any procedures to stop this happening because 6 years later this is still the most common complaint against LGO staff. Which rather goes to prove that accepting the lies of a council officer, instead of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is not only accepted it's a well established practice.

2) Mr Hobbs using irrational and ludicrous reasoning to support his decisions.

If it is established that a council officer misled the LGO you can request comeback on your complaint. As a result of the council officer lying to the LGO I requested comeback on my complaint. Mr Hobbs initially refused to comeback on my complaint stating irrationally and ludicrously that I didn't meet the comeback criteria.

Whilst Mrs Seex did eventually comeback on my case, let's face it she didn't really have an option, she failed  to put into place any procedures to stop this happening again because 6 years later, this is still a common complaint against LGO staff. Which rather goes to prove that the use of irrational and at times ludicrous reasoning to support their perverse decisions is not only an accepted it's a well established practice.

Within weeks of me persuading them to comeback on my case they introduced a 3 month time limit on future comeback requests making a similar request today impossible. It often takes much longer to establish that a council officer lied to the LGO let alone produce the evidence to request comeback within 3 months. Which rather goes to prove that they prefer to find ways to stop their use of irrational and at times ludicrous reasoning being challenged rather than eradicating the devious practice itself.

3) Mr Hobbs illegally initiating a complaint.

It was a well know fact at the time that, whilst the LGO could accept a complaint against a council, they were not statutory enabled to initiate a complaint themselves. However, this didn't deter Mr Hobbs from initiating a complaint against my council in my name without my agreement. The reason he did this was obvious, he didn't want to comeback on my original complaint, for that would have exposed his failings,  preferring instead to illegally initiate another complaint.

When this was brought to the attention of Mrs Seex it was dismissed as a mere triviality. Which begs the question, if the LGO are willing to turn a blind eye the illegal activities of their staff what else do they conveniently overlook?

I had been suspicious for a years that the LGO had been giving me different information than that they gave the Council, however, until the Freedom of Information Act there was very little I could do to confirm my suspicions.

4 and 5 below are as a result of Freedom of Information and Data Protection requests to the council.

4) Statistical manipulation.

I was concerned at how this  'extra' illegally initiated complaint would be statistically recorded by the LGO because I was well aware that they had a habit of multi counting complaints to maximise the benefit to them. I was assured that this would not be recorded in any way beneficial to them. However, when I eventually obtained a copy of the letter they sent the council it contradicted that assurance. Which rather goes to prove that they are quite prepared to lie to complainants when it suits them. 

5) Fabrication of documents.

During communications with the Council I became suspicious that a letter the LGO had 'supposedly' sent both of us had in fact never been sent to the Council. I decided to use the Freedom of Information Act to prove my theory, if the Council could produce the letter then my theory was wrong, if they couldn't then I was right, the LGO was just being deviously misleading by sending me a copy of a letter they hadn't actually sent the council.

The response to my Freedom of Information request took longer that expected but the reason soon became obvious. The Council didn't have a copy of the letter as I had suspected, however, rather than just admitting that they contacted the LGO who decided to fabricate a letter for them.

This in itself is suspicious because a Freedom of Information request is a request for information held and a valid response is that they don't have the information requested. So why go to the trouble of fabricating a letter?

There is only one logical answer to that question and that was an attempt to cover up the fact they never sent the Council the letter in the first place?

When I compared the letter the LGO produced for the Council to the one they sent to me years earlier it became obvious that they had fabricated the letter for the Council. Good job otherwise I would have been unaware of their duplicitous behaviour concerning this matter. Which rather goes to prove that they are quite prepared to fabricate letters when it suits them. 

Earlier I stated that I had misleading called this post 'The LGO's Dumb and Dumber'. That's because they are far from Dumb and Dumber, it's just that when someone tries to arrive at a conclusion, that logic and evidence doesn't support, the only options available to them are

a) to use use irrational and fallacious  argument to support their position. The one used by Mr Hobbs on many occasions during my complaint and if the emails I receive are anything to go by, he is still using today.

b) to overlook or ignore the issue or some available evidence. The one used by Mrs Seex on many occasions during my complaint and if the emails I receive are anything to go by, she is still using today.

The problem is that the above options make the most intelligent person look dumb.  

It's a good double act though, one to initially try and put people off with perverse decisions supported by irrational arguments and the other to overlook or at least minimise any fallout created by the use of such devious tactics.

Tactics which due to their unaccountability they have been able to get away with for years. The only downside is that in using these tactics they make themselves look like Dumb and Dumber. More about the Dummies that work for them in a later post.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Scottish Ombudsman has strongly criticised complaints systems

The Scottish Public Service Ombudsman has wrong footed the Local Government Ombudsman by criticising complaints systems, something the Local Government has never done.

Worse still, the system he criticises is the system adopted by the Local Government Ombudsman, 'confusing, difficult to access, slow, cumbersome and overly bureaucratic'.

 In addition he states: "Of all the complaints where it was fit for for the SPSO to investigate, a total of 34% were upheld either fully or partly.

"To put this another way, in over a third of cases that had already been investigated by the local service provider, through multiple, often lengthy, stages of review and appeal, that provider had got something wrong."

Compare the figures with the Local Government Ombudsman, one who goes out of their way to bury complaints for Local Authorities. Even after all their fiddling their own annual report still shows a figure of  27.1%.

Which could be put another way,  in nearly a third of cases that had already been investigated by the local service provider, through multiple, often lengthy, stages of review and appeal, that provider had got something wrong.

Yet the Local Government Ombudsman still send out annual letters congratulating Local Authorities on how well they are doing. Contrast their burying heads in the sand approach to that of the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman, who has at least the balls to accept something is wrong with the system of administrative justice in Scotland, rather than adopt the Local Government Ombudsman's approach of pretending everything in the garden is rosy.

Read more about what the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman said here and here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another council exposes the LGO as a duplicitous toothless poodle!

SHEFFIELD Council has been criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman for its response to two complaints about housing repairs – including a case in which a tenant waited eight months for a gas service. Read the full story from the source The Star

The problem is that we have been here before, LGO criticises a council, council ignores them and carries on as before. The LGO can make recommendations but cannot force a council to follow them.

It's a bit like a judge saying to the defendant I recommend you go to jail for 3 months but have no power to put you in jail. Or I recommend you pay a fine of £250 but have no power to make you pay.

The LGOs are, and always have been, toothless poodles pretending to be  watchdogs with only one option and that is to suck up to councils in an attempt to gently persuade them to do the right thing and stop all their wrongdoing. Now whilst this tactic may work with the few good councils, what about the Wirrals, Barnets, Sheffields, Traffords and others of this world.

A commentator on the original article linked to about sums it up when they say: "Every year the LGO criticises Sheffield City Council for the way it treats the people of the city and expresses concerns over the way the council is run. The council are always guilty of deception, laziness, a lack of urgency and contempt for the LGO. And every year the council are allowed to carry on just the same. They never change and it seems nobody can make them. They are above the law and act accordingly." 

The bottom line is that the Local Government Ombudsman is a waste of taxpayers money for four reasons

1) they cost significantly more than they recover in compensation for the people who complain to them about injustice suffered through council wrongdoing.

2) in spite of them manipulating their statistics in an attempt to bury the truth, council wrongdoing has risen year on year.

3) in spite of them manipulating their customer satisfaction surveys in an attempt to bury the truth, the number of dissatisfied complainants has risen year on year.

4) they report too little council wrongdoing as maladministration, preferring instead to bury it with the help of the council as a settled complaint. Please note: The complainant cannot stop a council and local government ombudsman conspiring to bury their complaint this way. The average compensation is about £500.

The reason they prefer to bury complaints as settled is down to their lack of mandatory powers. If they were to report council wrongdoing for what it is, maladministration, the council is free to ignore any recommendations of compensation.

Therefore, if the LGO can get the council to agree to pay compensation this wouldn't expose the fact they can't force them to pay. However, they only thing they have to offer the council in exchange for agreeing to pay the compensation is that they won't record their wrongdoing as maladministration.

As a result most of the council wrongdoing in England is not reported it is hidden from scrutiny. Less than 1% of all complaints are reported as maladministration whilst some 25% of all complaints which consist of council wrongdoing are hidden as settled and not reported. In spite of the fact that the complainant had no say in the matter.

Unfortunately a full council only has to consider reports finding injustice through maladministration not settled cases, which leads to another and more serious problem. Settled cases aren't scrutinised properly by the council, allowing those guilty of wrongdoing, usually senior officers, to deviously cover their backsides at taxpayers expense.

If a Local Government Ombudsman's investigation is likely to reveal maladministration on the part of a senior officer all they have to do is offer to pay a few hundred pounds compensation to settle the case and hey presto the case is settled. The amount of compensation is usually less than they can spend under delegated powers and no report of injustice caused through maladministration is published. That means that the full council does not necessarily know about the incident. All that is reported to the full council in the LGO's annual review is how many cases were settled, not the full detail.

What doesn't help is that fact that many LGO and their staff are ex officers and were brought up knowing how to escape full council scrutiny by settling complaints early. Therefore, now working for the LGO they can hardly stop this devious practice because if they did they would have to admit they benefited from it when they were council officers.

Therefore the most accurate description of a Local Government Ombudsman is a duplicitous toothless poodle.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wirral Council: Where was the Local Government Ombudsman?

Wirral council have been in the news recently, read more here.

Mr Morton’s claims of bullying, cover-ups and maladministration have now led the independent inquiry to conclude that the authority needs a root and branch change in its culture.

 The council was in the grip of a “corrosive” and “inward-looking culture where the needs and rights of residents had become submerged under its bureaucratic machinations. Read the full story here.

How could such a badly run council have such a low number of findings of maladministration against them by the LGO?

2010/11  34 complaints NO maladministration reported by LGO.

2009/10  166 complaints NO maladministration reported by LGO.

2008/09 43 complaints 1 finding of maladministration reported by LGO.

2007/08 87 complaints  1 finding of maladministration reported by LGO.

2006/07 95 complaints NO maladministration reported by LGO.

2005/06 100 complaints NO maladministration reported by LGO.

2005/2011 525 complaints against Wirral Council and only 2 findings of maladministration reported by LGO. Now I call that a statistical impossibility unless your objective is to hide the true level of council wrongdoing or like Foulkes you were asleep on the job.

If a very badly run council like Wirral can get away with only 2 out of 525 complaints being reported as maladministration over a 6 year period just how much wrongdoing is reported by the LGO against the average council in any one year? Answer Less than 1%. 

However, if you think that is a ridiculously low figure, the LGO responsible for Wirral Council only found maladministration in only 0.1% of all complaints submitted in 2008. That's only 1 in 1000 complaints submitted were reported by Ann Seex as maladministration. Ten times lower than the national LGO average. And that's why councils like Wirral can get away with cover-ups and maladministration for years....until  of course someone else does the LGO's job and blows the lid off council cover ups and maladministration.

UPDATE 23/9/2011: The reason why the LGO are so bad? 

Now I am in the fortunate position of being able to tell you how easily badly run councils can deceive the Local Government Ombudsman. During a discussion with an investigator they stated that they had 'no reason to disbelieve anything a council told them'. Followed by the breathtakingly naive statement 'why would a council lie to us'.

How an earth can a complainant get a fair and impartial investigation of their complaints with the odds stacked so firmly in favour of the council? Even though the Local Government Ombudsman manipulate their statistics to make them look better than they are, they still report less than 1% of complaints as maladministration. Maybe the fact that all Local Government Ombudsmen and most of their staff are ex council will give you a clue.

I have been trying to blow the whistle on the LGO for years but like Wirral Council, the Care Quality Commission and others, they can get away with it for years until a scandal forces the press and our elected representatives to lift the lid on these corrupt quangos and public sector bodies.

Friday, September 16, 2011

An old joke about the LGO but still valid

Question: Why is a Doctor held in much higher esteem than a Local Government Ombudsman?

Answer: A Doctor makes an analysis of a appalling illness whereas a Local Government Ombudsman makes you ill with a appalling analysis!

BONUS JOKES

Q: What's the problem with jokes about Local Government Ombudsmen? A: Local Government Ombudsmen don't think they are funny whilst other people don't think they are jokes.

Arguing with a Local Government Ombudsman is like mud wrestling with a pig: after a while you realize that the pig actually enjoys it.

Council Chief Executive responding to a Local Government Ombudsman, 'If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you'.

I'd like to see things from a Local Government Ombudsman's point of view but I can't get my head that far up a chief executive officer's arse.

A Local Government Ombudsman is about as useful as a windscreen wiper on a goat's arse.

Judging by the old saying, "What you don't know can't hurt you," makes a Local Government Ombudsman practically invulnerable.

The Local Government Ombudsman promises to keep an open mind. The only problem is that everything goes straight through.

We all spring from apes but Local Government Ombudsmen didn't spring far enough.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

LGO and Council silly season is here again

It's that time of year again in which councils receive their annual spin letters from the Local Government Ombudsman. Get your councils full annual letter here and find out how many cases of wrongdoing and maladministration the LGO buried for them.

Local press all around the country are printing extracts from their council's letter with the misleading headline...NO MALADMINISTRATION. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It's all down to the use of a devious tactic I like to call statistical gymnastics.

When is maladministration not maladministration? If an ombudsman finds maladministration but the council agree to pay a paltry amount of compensation it is not recorded as maladministration. However, should the council refuse to pay a paltry amount of compensation it becomes maladministration and reported as such.

This forces the council to publicise the fact that the ombudsman has found maladministration, which usually costs more than the settlement the ombudsman would have been happy with. Therefore, only a stupid council would turn down the ombudsman's offer to terminate a complaint if they pay the complainant a paltry amount of compensation. Which on average is less than £600.

A cheap and nasty pseudo system of administrative justice allows local government ombudsmen, councils and government to bury council wrongdoing and maladministration on the cheap, so it's a win, win, win situation for them.

The only losers are complainants who don't get the justice they deserve and of course the general public who are left in the dark about the true level of council wrongdoing and maladministration.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Another not fit for purpose toothless watchdog?

Most people are already aware that the Local Government Ombudsman is a not fit for purpose toothless watchdog whose sole purpose appears to be to give false hope to complainants. Just long enough for other remedies to be no longer available to the complainant and then they bury the complaint as quick as they can. Unless of course it's a high profile one that can be used for propaganda purposes as part of their evangelical agenda.

Well it looks they are not alone...The Legal Service Ombudsman appears to be another not fit for purpose toothless watchdog.

Read more on the link particularly the comments.

My favourites

1) How happy are the 3768 people with the service?

My answer: Like the LGO I doubt they will ever allow an independent organisation to ask them all. More than likely they will pre-select a few and then ask the right questions to get the answers they want.  

2) £21.4M / 3,768 complaints investigated = £5,679 per complaint (or a bargain basement £2,202 against operating costs only). The report says they have 263 employees. That's an average of 14 complaints dealt with by each of them. You couldn't make it up, could you? Did Sampson keep a straight face when he said "the organisation had had a cost-effective and efficient start, and was proving to be an effective model", as he trousered a very "cost-effective" £161K for a job worth about half that?

My answer: The LGO also keep a straight face when they talk about how cost effective and efficient they are whilst trousering vast sums of taxpayers money.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

No maladministration my arse

There was an article in an on-line local paper recently which was essentially nothing more than a rehash of press releases issued by local councils together with extracts from the annual review letter sent to councils by the Local Government Ombudsman.

At this time of the years you will find many local newspapers doing exactly the same because every year the Local Government Ombudsman sends out an annual review letter regarding councils' performance. If you are interested in your own council download their annual letter here.

If you ignore the usual padding, information which is included in every annual review sent to councils, such as what training the LGO can offer a council, or a summary of any changes to their remit, basically what you are left with is scant detail of a councils performance when it comes to complaints.

Using the "No maladministration here" article from the newspaper above as an example
"NO findings of maladministration causing injustice were found against either West Norfolk Council or Breckland Council in the Local Government Ombudsman’s latest annual review. "
This statement is a blatant misrepresentation of the truth. Whilst it may be true that no reports finding maladministration leading to injustice where issued it is not true to say no maladministration was found.

Reading on you will see how this misrepresentation is made possible with a little help from their friends the LGO.
"In regard to the borough council [West Norfolk Council] .... two [complaints] were resolved through local settlements" 
"In Breckland [Breckland Council] .... two [complaints] were local settlements.
So what is a local settlement and why, if you were not guilty of maladministration, would you agree to pay a complainant compensation?

This is how it works, during the investigation as soon as it becomes obvious to all concerned that maladministration leading to injustice has taken place, a local settlement is either offered by the LGO or asked for by the council. If a settlement between them is agreed, further investigation is dropped and a report finding maladministration leading to injustice is never issued.

It is important to note that the complainant cannot stop the LGO terminating their complaint as a local settlement. It is agreed between the LGO and the Council. Therefore, it can't really be classed as a settlement and neither can it be classed as local. Something I have been arguing for years. Here's is an early post on the subject, there are many more, just put local settlements in the search my blog bar (top right).

Since they were illegally introduced by the LGO some years ago, local settlements have received so such much criticism the discredited Local Government Ombudsman has finally been forced to discontinue using the misleading term.

Local settlements will in future be described as ‘Discontinued investigation: injustice remedied'. 

Back to the original story. The Local Government Ombudsman is empowered to investigate maladministration leading to injustice. The article proudly boats "no maladministration here", however, if the investigations were discontinued because the injustices were remedied, logic dictates that the councils in question must have been guilty of at least two counts  of maladministration each.

So why do councils mislead the public and why do the LGO appear so keen to help them?

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Local Government Ombudsman and their fifteen pillars of injustice

Further to my previous update on the subject, the Local Government Ombudsman and their fourteen pillars of injustice. I have now decided to add another pillar of injustice to the list.

(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,
(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,
(9) they are free to define maladministration as they see fit,
(10) they are free to determine the level of injustice you must suffer before investigating your complaint,
(11) they are free to engage in propaganda (or as Justice Lightman calls it an evangelical agenda),
(12) they probably don't meet the requirements of the Human Rights Act. Justice Lightman's view,
(13) they often accept false statements from a council officer as the truth without any validation (Their 5th pillar of injustice ensures nobody else is in a position to challenge this ludicrous pillar of injustice),
(14) they don't take action against any council officer who has lied to them. 
(15) they don't report any potentially criminal act they identify during their investigations to the Police.

Compare the LGO fifteen pillars of injustice above to the Courts/Tribunal fifteen pillars of justice below.

(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,
(8) they have to follow case law or provide a valid reason for not doing so,
(9) statutory definitions exist for all legal wrongs,
(10) a judge can't stop you taking court action even if the injustice you have suffered is slight,
(11) a judge cannot use self promoting publicity (propaganda),
(12) all court/tribunal cases have to be human rights compliant.
(13) statements are not accepted as the truth by a judge without (a) being made under oath and (b) tested by counter argument and cross examination by the other party.
(14) action can be taken against anyone who commits perjury in court.
(15) a judge would report any potentially criminal act they identify during a trial to the Police. 

Local Government Ombudsmen are nothing more than a government sponsored quango whose remit is to bury as much of the unpleasant and offensive features of Local Government as they can.

If they weren't why does the government force everyone who has a complaint about Local Government to use such a discredited and biased system of administrative justice? Why no administrative tribunal with similar powers and accountability to a proper court?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Local Government Ombudsmen and Internal Complaints

I have been asked on a number of occasions recently whether it is worth a complainant submitting an internal complaint to the Ombudsman.

Here are two, of many examples I could give, that illustrate the futility of submitting a complaint to a Local Government Ombudsman about the way in which your complaint was dealt with or for something else you think they did wrong.

I once submitted an internal complaint because an assistant ombudsman instigated a complaint in my name without my permission. Something that they had no legal right to do. However, when I brought this to the attention of the Local Government Ombudsman my complaint was dismissed on the grounds that the assistant ombudsman was only trying to be helpful.

Therefore, if the Local Government Ombudsman is happy to dismiss quite serious complaints about her staff what chance does the average complainant have when submitting a lesser complaint?

On another occasion I submitted a Freedom of Information request to my local council. The council could have quite easily stated they did not have the document but instead they contacted the Local Government Ombudsman's office who fabricated a copy of the document I had requested from the council. The council then sent me a copy of this fabricated letter which, if I hadn't been able to prove it had been fabricated, implied that they had the document I had requested all the time.

When I brought this to the attention of the Local Government Ombudsman, by way of an internal complaint, it was once again brushed aside as the office only trying to be helpful.

Considering the Local Government Ombudsman's response to very serious complaints one has to question whether it's worth submitting an internal  complaint at all.

In a later post I will tell you more about why and how they often wrongly categorise internal complaints.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Prime Minister admits turning a blind eye to wrongdoing

David Cameron talking about the Hacking Scandal: "The deeper truth is this... because party leaders were so keen to win the support of newspapers we turned a blind eye to the need to sort this issue, get on top of the bad practices, to change the way our newspapers are regulated," he said. "I want to deal with it."

However, whilst David Cameron has now been forced into action regarding the failure of the Press Complaints Commission to stop phone hacking, he and others in power are still turning a blind eye to other wrongdoing.

For example, what he said about the PCC could equally apply to other watchdog, whilst I have used the Local Government Ombudsman as an example below you can substitute any other watchdog you wish. The Care Quality Commission would be another good example.

1) What he could also have said about Local Government: "The deeper truth is this... because party leaders were so keen to win the support of local government we turned a blind eye to the need to sort this issue, get on top of the bad practices, to change the way local government is regulated."

So there you have it, a not fit for purpose Press Complaints Commission, Local Government Ombudsman (or any other watchdog you wish to name) because it helps those in power turn a blind eye to the need to sort anything out and get on top of bad practices.

Toothless poodles

Ed Miliband described the Press Complaints Commission as a ‘toothless poodle’ today.

Funny because I have been saying that about the LGO for years. (Please note since the linked  to post was made only fluffy remains, Fifi and Fido have left the building.

It obviously takes a scandal to get senior politicians to take notice.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Law Commission Review of Public Service Ombudsmen

I am expecting the review to be published shortly but don't hold out much hope of improvement as far as complainants are concerned. When problems with the Local Government Ombudsman have been exposed in the past the Government either ignored them or gave them extra powers to legalise their actions.

Remember local settlements! The LGO introduced these without statutory authority using devious semantic gymnastics to get round the problem. What they did was call maladministration administrative fault if they wanted to locally settle a case. They did this because the law said they had to publish a report if they found maladministration. Hence the semantic gymnastics. Even Tony Redmond, the then Chair of the Commission for Local Government Administration in England admitted they were the same thing. When this was pointed out to the Government did they stop the LGO using illegal local settlements? NO they didn't, they just amended the law to make local settlements legal.

The Government also had a chance in 2005 to improve the rotten system of administrative justice in this country but cut short their investigation into the Role and Effectiveness of the Local Government Ombudsman after the Chair of the Select Committee, the driving force behind the investigation, retired.

In addition, the Government has had many chances to improve the system over the years and failed to do so in spite of overwhelming evidence that it is not fit for purpose. Indeed they made matters much worse in 1995 when they started to recruit ex council staff as Ombudsmen. That's when it started to go downhill and as of today it is still going in that direction.

So much so that the only way they can look at all slightly effective is to manipulate their customer satisfaction survey and their compliance statistics.

Hence my fear that nothing good will come out of this review as far as complainants are concerned.

Like all public consultations, the organisations concerned know what they want at the outset. Public consultations are just a means of giving the public the impression they were involved in the final recommendations. Just because organisations consult with the public doesn't mean they have to listen. As can be evidenced with most local authority consultation exercises. And the fact that we now have one of the worst systems of administrative justice in the world.

Furthermore, name one Watchdog or Ombudsman in England that's fit for purpose. You can't because the Government don't want effective watchdogs and ombudsmen because if they did then we would have them and they wouldn't be staffed to the gunnels from the authorities they are supposed to be investigating/monitoring.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Tony Redmonds replacement UPDATE

Further to my previous post Where is Tony Redmond's replacement?

We have now received more information from the DCLG in response to a request for an internal review of an earlier FOI request.

1. The interviews were held on 15 February 2011.
2. 25 candidates applied for the post and four were interviewed.
3. The Department does not currently hold information on the planned date for the successful candidate to take up office.
4. The final selection has not yet taken place.

However, it still doesn't explain why they took so long to start the recruitment process. Especially since they knew Tony Redmond was going to retire in November 2010 when he was recruited in 2001.

I think there is still an unknown reason for the extraordinary delay. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

LGO second reports

The LGO are supposed to issue a second report if the authority concerned does not provide the remedy recommended by the Ombudsman in their initial report.

However, the LGO don't always issue a second report because the wording of the Local Government Act allows them to evade doing so. [If the Local Commissioner -  is not satisfied with the action which the authority concerned have taken they can issue a second report.]

What goes on between an initial report and the second report, should an authority concerned refuse to provide the recommended remedy, is a period of negotiation in which the LGO tries to persuade the authority concerned to provide a remedy that will satisfy them even if it's not the recommended remedy.

Therefore, if a council refuse to provide the recommended remedy but offer a lesser remedy the LGO often accept the lesser remedy by simple stating that they are satisfied with the action the authority concerned has taken, and hey presto, no need for a second report even though the authority concerned failed to provide anything like the remedy recommended in the initial report.

However, there comes a time when even these devious tactics can't be used and on occasions the LGO is forced to issue a second report. Below is a list of the LGO's 2008/9 second reports.


Note the delay between issuing the initial report and issuing the second report. to the authority concerned. [The Local Government Act states, If the Local Commissioner - does not within a reasonable time receive confirmation from the authority concerned that they have taken action, as proposed, to the satisfaction of the Local Commissioner.]

Unfortunately, just as the word 'satisfied' is clearly open to misuse so are the words 'within a reasonable time'. For how long is a reasonable time for an authority to provide a remedy for an injustice they have caused.

In Tyndale's case the LGO concerned was obviously quite happy waiting 14 months before issuing a second report. In the King David Primary School example the LGO was obviously quite happy to wait a similar amount of time.

Local Government Ombudsmen don't like issuing reports at all but dread issuing second reports because it proves conclusively that they can be ignored with impunity by the authority concerned. Therefore, they will do everything in their power to resolve the problem before being forced to issue a second report.

Knowing this gives the authorities concerned a very strong bargaining position when negotiating a lesser remedy than that initially suggested by a Local Government Ombudsman and is just one of the reasons why Local Government Ombudsmen have to dance to the authority's tune.

I am sure this is what the Government wanted when they introduced toothless Local Government Ombudsmen. As far as the public are concerned they are a system of administrative justice but as far as the authorities under investigation are concerned they are just a watchdog they can either control or ignore.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why recruit a replacement LGO at all

The previous chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England and Local Government Ombudsman retired during November 2010. Since that time we have only had two out of the normal complement of three  Local Government Ombudsmen in England.

Therefore, why should the taxpayer fork out £170,000 plus for a replacement LGO when it is now evident that they are not needed. They had little effect on council wrongdoing before November 2010 and nothing has changed since.

So why not save the taxpayer some £16million a year and get rid of them all. The ineffectual LGO have no impact on council wrongdoing just as the ineffectual Care quality Commission has had no impact on care home wrongdoing.

Currently our watchdogs are nothing more than taxpayer funded government sponsored window dressing that have now become part of the problem not part of the solution.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

An upside of the LGO, don't be daft!

One would imagine that if you are one of the lucky 1% of all complainants who manage to prise a finding of maladministration leading to injustice out of a Local Government Ombudsman you would be a happy bunny.

Not so, some of the most disatisfied of all users are those who have managed to persuade the LGO to find a council guilty of Maladministration leading to injustice.

Here is a recent  example of why complainants, who successfully convince a Local Government Ombudsman to find their council guilty of maladministration leading to injustice, have every right feel the system of administrative justice has badly let them down.
East Staffordshire Borough Council were found to have provided  ‘maladministration causing injustice’ and agreed to pay compensation to four complainants.
In 2006, a farmer submitted a planning application for the erection of a building to be used as a free range egg laying unit.
The application was considered under delegated powers and was refused on the grounds that the size and position of the building would have an imposing impact on the surrounding area and would be visually prominent.
The applicant appealed against the decision and permission was subsequently granted by the Planning Inspectorate.
As part of the appeal process, the council submitted a response but did not include any conditions it considered should be added if the inspector was minded to grant permission.
The applicant then imported more than 100,000 tonnes of material to the site to build up the land and produce a level area on which to build.
Dr Jane Martin, on behalf of the Local Government Ombudsman, said: “The complainants had a reasonable expectation that the council would do more to protect their position and defend the appeal, but the council had done the minimum required.
“In my view, the council then had a duty to defend its decision and respond to the Planning Inspectorate. The council did not robustly defend the appeal. It had the opportunity to suggest conditions but did not do so.”
As a result of the investigation, the authority agreed to make a payment of £500 per household to the complainants who lived in the three nearest properties — a Mrs Parker, Mr McCarthy and Mr and Mrs Noble.
A payment of £150 to a Mr and Mrs Dyer was also made to recognise their time and trouble in pursuing the complaint. [My emphasis] Read the full story from the source Burton Mail
So there you have it, initially let down by their council and then let down again by a Local Government Ombudsman.  £500 compensation for each of the three families who have to put up with a problem created because of their council's maladministration for the rest of their lives.

No wonder Councils tell complainants to go to the LGO.

Now compare what the council had to pay out for maladministration with the £5,000 that the council wanted to fine people who left their bins out too long and refused to pay the £100 fine within 14 days.

UPDATE 6th June 2011: Even the council is unhappy with the LGO.

A COUNCIL has hit back after it was criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman over its handling of a planning appeal.

My comment: I can understand their anger, after all these years they must have got used to the LGO burying complaints against them, it must have been a real shock to actually receive a report finding maladministration. 

Read the ful story from the source Burton Mail

UPDATE 27th June 2011: Houses of Parliament read this post today.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Twenty three complaints

Ms Mildmay, from the Sheringham Campaign Against Major Retail Overdevelopment, questioned the effectiveness of the Local Government Ombudsman and said: “The report is complete rubbish, mildly predictable and not correct. The whole thing was very dubious and highly questionable.”

My comment: Join the club. 

Whilst councils are allowed to gain an indirect benefit from a development (Planning gain section 106 agreements, more accurately described as a means through which a council can legalise a bung) there will always be questions over all developments. 

Did a council really want the development or were they more interested in securing the contents of the section 106 agreement? Unfortunately section 106 agreements allow the richer developers, the ones that can offer the biggest section 106 contribution, to get planning permission where others often fail.

Read the full story from the source Norwich Evening News

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why some people won't go to the LGO

 

You Tube Video obviously posted by someone who doesn't want to use the discredited LGO.

Who can blame them, I for one wouldn't advise anyone to use the LGO

Where is Tony Redmond's replacement?

Tony Redmond, LGO London office and Chair of the Commission for Local Administration for England retired in November 2010.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) knew he was going to retire in 2010 when he was recruited in 2001. So they had plenty of time to recruit a replacement well before he retired. However, for some unknown reason they didn't.

When asked why the hadn't begun recruiting a replacement well before he retired the DCLG stated that the couldn't because of the 2010 general elections. However, the reason given can't be true because Anne Seex was recruited in 2005 and just as in 2010 there was a general election in 2005.

My wife (part time assistant) submitted a second Freedom of Information in an attempt to root out the truth.

"Dear Department for Communities and Local Government, Please provide any and all information held about the recruitment of a replacement for Tony Redmond, Local Government Ombudsman and Chair of the Commission for Local Administration, who retired some 6 months ago. Or in the alternative any and all information held which would explain why he is not going to be replaced."

Whatever information they now supply can't mitigate the fact that they clealry provided misleading information in their response to her first FOI request.

Something I am personally going to pursue. Looks like the DCLG , like the LGO, are another body that doesn't like telling the full story.

"Dear Department for Communities and Local Government, You have previously gone on record stating that the reason you couldn't recruit a replacement Local Government Ombudsman in 2010 was because it was during an election year. However, Anne Seex LGO  was recruited in 2005 which was also during an election year.

Therefore, I would like a copy of any policy/guidance changes between 2005 and 2010 that would explain the anomaly. Or if you prefer a better reason for not recruiting a replacement Local Government Ombudsman during 2010."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

LGO & CQC: Two failing watchdogs in the same pod.

Dr Heather Wood “The CQC appears anxious not to rock the boat with any significant criticism of the NHS. My sense of the CQC is that it is firmly part of the NHS establishment.”

Trevor Nunn "The LGO appear anxious not to rock the boat with any significant criticism of Local Government. My sense of the LGO is that it is firmly part of the Local Government establishment." Based on the quote above by Dr Heather Wood.

Neither am I alone in thinking the LGO are firmly part of the Local Government establishment and, as so called watchdogs, not fit for purpose.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

The jokes on the LGO

Every year the LGO buries over 18,000 complaints about local councils. Some of these complaints are made by children. As a result the LGO have been attempting, through teachers, to spread their propaganda.

Accordingly a teacher asked her class how many of them thought the Local Government Ombudsman was fair and independent. Not really knowing what a Local Government Ombudsman was, but wanting to be liked by their teacher, all the kids raised their hands except for little Trevor. The teacher asked little Trevor why he had decided to be different. Little Trevor said, 'Because I don't think the Local Government Ombudsman is fair and independent.' The teacher asked, 'Why don't you think the Local Government Ombudsman is fair and independent?' Trevor said, 'Because I'm a Local Government Ombudsman Watcher.' The teacher asked him why he's a Local Government Ombudsman Watcher. Little Trevor answered, 'Well, my Mum's a Ombudsman Watcher and my Dad's a Ombudsman Watcher, so I'm a Ombudsman Watcher.' Annoyed by this answer, the teacher asked, 'If your Mum was a moron and your Dad was an idiot, what would that make you?' Little Trevor thought for a minute and then replied,  'someone who  thinks the Local Government Ombudsman is fair and independent?'

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The LGO: When words are not enough


From an earlier post: Whilst the LGO should be sanitisers they are in reality nothing more than a cheap scent attempting to mask the stink from the unpleasant and offensive features of Local Government.

Sanitisers - to make more acceptable by removing unpleasant or offensive features from...Local Government. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Local Government Ombudsman and their fourteen pillars of injustice

Further to my previous update on the subject, the Local Government Ombudsman and their twelve pillars of injustice. I have now added another two pillars of injustice to the list. (still more to add when I have time)

(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,
(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,
(9) they are free to define maladministration as they see fit,
(10) they are free to determine the level of injustice you must suffer before investigating your complaint,
(11) they are free to engage in propaganda (or as Justice Lightman calls it an evangelical agenda),
(12) they probably don't meet the requirements of the Human Rights Act. Justice Lightman's view,
(13) they often accept false statements from a council officer as the truth without any validation (Their 5th pillar of injustice ensures nobody else is in a position to challenge this ludicrous pillar of injustice),
(14) they don't take action against any council officer who has lied to them.
 

Compare the LGO fourteen pillars of injustice above to the Courts/Tribunal fourteen pillars of justice below.

(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,
(8) they have to follow case law or provide a valid reason for not doing so,
(9) statutory definitions exist for all legal wrongs,
(10) a judge can't stop you taking court action even if the injustice you have suffered is slight,
(11) a judge cannot use self promoting publicity (propaganda),
(12) all court/tribunal cases have to be human rights compliant.
(13) statements are not accepted as the truth by a judge without (a) being made under oath and (b) tested by counter argument and cross examination by the other party.
(14) action can be taken against anyone who commits perjury in court. 


Whilst the LGO should be sanitisers of [to make more acceptable by removing unpleasant or offensive features from] Local Government they are in reality nothing more than a cheap scent attempting to mask the stink from the unpleasant and offensive features of Local Government.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Public Service Ombudsman for Wales visits my blog

I wonder if the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales, otherwise known as the Commission for Local Administration in Wales, found anything interesting on my blog?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Eric Pickles hasn't got a clue what powers the LGO has

In an article about councils charging for using their local tip

"Communities Secretary Eric Pickles condemned the charges and warned that the result will be increased fly-tipping and high costs for clearing up the mess it causes.

‘I have grave concerns over the legality of this move, which runs contrary to the intentions of Parliament. I urge local residents in Somerset to report their councils to the District Auditor or the Local Government Ombudsman who have powers to block these charges.’"

My comment: Oh no they don't Eric, and if you, the man in charge of the DCLG, the government department which recruits Local Government Ombudsmen, doesn't know they have no powers to force a council to do anything, something is seriously wrong. 

Read the full story from the source Mail On-Line

Manipulating a customer satisfaction survey in your favour

Know who to survey 

If you ask someone who is dissatisfied or unhappy your customer satisfaction score goes down the toilet. So try and ask only those who will give you a positive result.

Therefore you must segment your customers

In any customer base there will always be
  • Segment 1) those who will always give you a high score.
  • Segment 2) those who will always give you a low score.
  • Segment 3) those who will always tell the truth and score accurately. Normally the largest number of your customers will fall in this segment.
  • Segment 4) those who don't like to give low scores in surveys and always give higher marks than you deserve. 
Therefore, if your organisation is expecting a high number of low scores from your customer satisfaction survey then you need to try and find out which of your customers are in segments 1 and 4 and only survey them whilst trying to exclude the others.

Unfortunately if your organisation is really bad at satisfying your customers,  the Local Government Ombudsman is a good example, even segmenting, selecting and filtering the survey participants may still not be enough to prevent a really bad result.

The downside of survey participant segmenting, selecting and filtering is that you may be exposed for using such devious tactics which will, as it has done with the Local Government Ombudsman, flush the reputation of your organisation further down the toilet than it already is.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Wow! And we thought our Ombudsmen were bad

Office of the Ombudsman a cannibal

By Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
 
THE Office of the Ombudsman refuses to fire one of its own, Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III, in defiance of President Noy’s order because it doesn’t want to abandon a partner in crime.

Gonzalez is being booted out for sitting on the case of former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza who, in desperation, held hostage a bus full of tourists that resulted in a bloodbath on Aug. 23, 2010.

Mendoza, during the hostage negotiations, said Gonzalez was demanding a big sum of money from him so that his appeal for reinstatement would be decided in his favor.

The Office of the Ombudsman is a cannibal—it preys on its own kind. Its victims are government officials and employees accused of corruption.

It was a case of an extortionist being fleeced by another extortionist.

Extorting from government officials and employees facing corruption charges is common at the Office of the Ombudsman. Read the full story from the source Inquirer.net

The LGO: Are their customer satisfaction levels getting worse? I think so

Anyone who has followed the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) for as long as I have will know that both their 1995 and 1999 customer satisfaction surveys were quantitative in nature involving 1000 complainants. However, following the extremely poor customer satisfaction levels highlighted in both the 1995 and 1999 surveys, the introduction of LGO Watch in 2003 and the 2005 select committee investigation into their role and effectiveness the LGO switched to a qualitative customer satisfaction survey involving just a handful of selected and filtered complainants. I will let readers to make up their own mind why they did this. For full details about the difference between qualitative and quantitative surveys click here.

They switched back to a quantitative survey in 2007 but were exposed for removing an even larger percentage of potential dissatisfied complaints from this survey than they had done in 1999 [1 below]. Unfortunately for them even after the removal of a significant proportion of potentially dissatisfied customers they still received an extremely poor customer satisfaction level. Essentially, if you strip away the obvious attempts at manipulating the outcome in their favour they had not improved the atrocious customer satisfaction levels highlighted in the 1995 and 1999 surveys. Although they promised to heed the results of the 1995 and 1999 customer satisfaction surveys and improve they had demonstrably failed to do so by 2007.

For their 2010 customer satisfaction survey (curiously at the same time they were again under the government spotlight) they once again decided to switch back to a qualitative survey involving just a handful of specially selected and filtered complainants. Again I will let readers to make up their own mind why they did this.

However, if you ignore the positive spin they put on the outcome you will observe that the picture is very bleak for the Local Government Ombudsman as far as customer satisfaction levels are concerned. I would even go as far as suggesting that if they were to conduct a quantitative customer satisfaction survey without specially selecting and filtering participants the level of customer satisfaction would be a lot lot worse than it was in the 90s.

You can download some of the survey results here.

[1] During the 1999 survey I was asked by the customer satisfaction survey team to take part. I agreed but also told them that I was a dissatisfied customer. I heard no more from the customer satisfaction survey team and concluded that I was just one of those filtered out by the LGO.

Friday, April 01, 2011

DCLG identify ideal place to recruit LGOs and their staff

After months of research the Department of Communities and Local Government have found an ideal recruiting ground for Local Government Ombudsmen and their staff.

The DCLG also think that LGOs and their staff recruited via this new resource will considerably improve the skill set currently available in all LGO offices.

We should note this day for posterity, one on which we are promised better qualified Local Government Ombudsmen together with more highly qualified staff to support them :).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Extracts from more messages about the LGO received recently

"I went to the L.G.O and they accepted my complaint but many weeks later the investigator said that it wasn't in their jurisdiction."

"I am not the slightest interested in the LGO looking at my complaint again. They have no idea how to investigate and quite honestly I don't value their opinion. In my eyes they are nothing, nobodies who twist logic and I would never recommend anyone approach them, pointless exercise. "

"I think he [LGO investigator] just wanted to put me off suing the Council."

"I got nothing off the ombudsman."

"I can see their methods/modus operandi. Give you loads of sympathy, build you up and drop you like a piece of dirt."

"I was pleased that I read your web pages before I contacted the LGO, the shock of their actions was easier to accept."

"the whole system stinks of the gentleman's club.

"I am hearing lots of complaints locally about the LGO."

"The LGO [actual name of LGO given] is a worthless excuse for justice and a total waste of space."

"I have experienced the corrupt local government ombudsman and his toady investigator."

"I am still reeling in shock at the bare-faced audacity of this organisation."

"The local government ombudsman has as much integrity as a racetrack shyster manipulating three egg cups and ball."

"The idiom about "moving goalposts" springs to mind. We have very serious misgivings."

"They [LGO] recommended utterly derisory compensation."

"I am still going through exactly the same thing that caused me to complain in the first place."

"The lgo agreed with us but did not believe the case was worth pursuing. The ombudsman's investigations was cursory and inaccurate and totally prejudiced against us and for the council."

"No wonder the local council urged us to complain to the LGO."

"The LGO report was characterised by the fact that the bulk complaints were completely ignored."

"LGO knighted for his disservices to the public, doesn't it stink.

"Had we known that the lgo was so ineffective, biased and incompetent we would not have bothered."  

"Everything I said to the ombudsman required proof but everything the council said to them was taken on face value."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Calls for review of LGO recycling decision

ANGRY Witley residents have called for a review of a local government ombudsman’s handling of a serious complaint concerning Surrey County Council.

They have also protested to their local MP culture secretary Jeremy Hunt that the decision demonstrates a ‘lack of fairness and openness’. If they fail to get a review, they have pledged to take their complaint to the European Parliament.

Members of Witley and Milford Environment Action Group(WAMEAG) asserted county planners had knowingly approved a fraudulent planning application and took their complaint to the local government ombudsman. In his decision the local government ombudsman found that the council was at fault but did not feel there were sufficient grounds to pursue the complaint.

My Comment: The LGO often find fault [1 below] but do nothing about it. That's why councils never learn from the maladministration they commit. Whilst Local Government Ombudsmen are willing to bury their wrongdoings just what have they got to fear. 

Read the full story from the source getSurrey

[1] The LGO often call maladministration by other names because they don't like using the word maladministration. Hence the words above 'the council was at fault'. There is simply no difference between maladministration and the council was at fault, so why are the LGO so frightened of using the word maladministration? Answer because they don't like finding their friends and ex collogues in councils guilty of maladministration so play silly semantic games in an attempt to water down any problems for them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Typical of the emails I receive about the LGO

This recent email was about the York LGO Office.

Hi Trevor,

Prior to contacting the LGO I read a lot of your articles etc and thought that you must be biased or wrong somehow and that it was not possible that all that was wrote about the LGO was correct.

I am now in a position to be able to confirm that they are an awful bunch. I am so shocked about how the LGO operate, I am in total disbelief. I thought my complaint was bad, but it seems to be common place.

I feel more violated by the LGO than the rotten beggars that I complained to them about. In your experience are my feelings normal? I probably need to let go of this and just accept that I live in a truly rotten Country and that integrity and morals are lost forever, if there ever was any.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Council ‘transparency’

A residents’ association has lodged a formal complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman over a “lack of transparency” in planning for hundreds of new homes.

The Priest Avenue Residents’ Association (PARA) says Wokingham Borough Council has ignored its fears relating to plans for 2,500 homes at land off London Road.

PARA says it would initiate a legal challenge, as a group of parish councils in the borough has done, however cannot afford to fund the costs.

Instead the group has contacted the Local Government Ombudsman to say it is unhappy with the council’s lack of transparency in the way it has adopted its housing plans.

My comment: Huge mistake because this is typically how most complaints against councils are forced down a side road, delayed and then quietly strangled by the LGO. People can't afford proper justice so they are forced to use the discredited Local Government Ombudsman. Not only are the LGO ex council so are most of their staff and will do everything in their power to derail a complaint against their friends and ex collegues. In addition if you think your council lacks transparency wait until you have had dealings with the LGO.

Read the full story from the source getwokingham.co.uk 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The inconsistent Local Government Ombudsman

In a recent report a Local Government Ombudsman found a council guilty of maladministration causing injustice even though the injustice affected a significant part of the community.

However, this is also the same reason why Local Government Ombudsmen have turned many complaints away in the past. Even though the number of residents affected were much less than in the case above.

1974 Local Government Act (amended) Part III Section 26.7c A Local Commissioner shall not conduct an investigation in respect of any action which in his opinion affects all or most of the inhabitants of the the area of the authority concerned.

The get out clause is in the Act 'which in his opinion', thus allowing different Local Government Ombudsmen to do whatever they want. That's why there will never be any consistency in the way Local Government Ombudsmen deal with similar complaints.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

UPDATE: No wonder Councils are now laughing at the LGO

Further to my previous post on the subject. 'No wonder Councils are now laughing at the LGO'.

The council in question now claim it does not have the money (the money they defrauded the taxi drivers out off) to pay them back. Read the full story from the source Echo

Whilst this is a silly excuse that no judge would accept the  Local Government Ombudsman cannot force the council to do anything they don't want to do. Essentially  the taxi drivers can only hope that the council, who defrauded them out of the money in the first place, will do the right thing and give them their money back.

Now you know why Councils can afford to laugh at the LGO

To fully understand the corrupt system of administrative justice operating in this country read the Local Government Ombudsman and their  twelve pillars of injustice.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No wonder Councils are now laughing at the LGO

The following case, reported by the Local Government Ombudsman, demonstrates why Councils must now be laughing at them.

"Castle Point Borough Council double charged licensed taxi drivers for Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Anne Seex. In her report, issued today (15 February 2011) she says: “This complaint also raises the issue of injustice to every licensed taxi driver who has paid a CRB fee and a licence fee since 1 January 2004, who is likely to have been overcharged.”

‘Mr Hunter’ (not his real name for legal reasons) is a licensed taxi driver. He complained to the Ombudsman because he thought he had been overcharged for his licence since 2004, in particular that he had been charged twice for the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

In June 2003 the Council decided to charge licensed taxi drivers a separate fee for the CRB check, which had previously been included in the taxi licence fee. In July 2003 the drivers were notified that they would have to pay one fee for their licence and a separate fee for the CRB check.

In December 2003 the Council’s Licensing Committee agreed a percentage increase for licence fares. But the figure on which the percentage increase was based included an amount for the CRB fee which, since July 2003, had been charged separately. And all percentage increases agreed since December 2003 have been based on this baseline figure which wrongly included a CRB fee. This means that since 1 January 2004, when the increase came into account, all licensed drivers who have paid for a CRB check and a licence have been overcharged.

The Ombudsman finds that the Council was at fault for agreeing a fare increase that included an element for a CRB check which the Council had already decided to make a separate charge for. The Council says this was an informed decision to cover the administrative costs of processing the CRB checks; but there is no evidence that this was considered by the Licensing Committee.

The Ombudsman concludes that Mr Hunter, and other taxi drivers who have paid a licence fee since 1 January 2004, have been overcharged.


She
[Mrs Anne Seex] recommends that the Council: 
  • reimburses Mr Hunter with the amount by which he has been overcharged, and 
  • takes measures to remedy the injustice caused to other taxi drivers who have paid a licence fee and CRB fee since 1 January 2004.  
Report ref no 09 012 990"

(The council can't even argue it was an oversight or unintentional because "The Council says this was an informed decision", therefore it's fraud.)
   
So we have a Council who defraud a number of taxi drivers for some 7 years and all they have to do is pay the money back? 

Can you imagine if the courts did the same with other fraudsters, "if you are caught, which won't be very often, all you will have to do is pay the money back"! 

No wonder Councils are now laughing at the LGO. 

  
PS  I have been for years!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Do the LGO meet their Public Value Vision statement?

Their website states The Commission's Public Value Vision is:

"to provide a high quality and efficient service, accessible to all, that remedies injustice for indiviudals (sic) and maximises the value of investigations to make public services better."

Looking at these bold statements individually, there is no independent evidence to support their assertions that they
  • Provide a high quality service. (Their own surveys suggest 73% of users are dissatisfied. Despite the fact they fiddle the results by deviously excluding a large percentage of dissatisfied complaints.)
  • Provide an efficient service. (Their own stats suggests otherwise.)
  • Provide a service that is accessible to all. (See 2 below.)
  • Provide a service that remedies injustice for individuals. (See 1 below.)
  • Have made public services better. (Evidence suggests otherwise.)
    If you exclude the self generated spin, most of the evidence available in the public domain suggests that they don't provide any of the above. Which means, like many other products and services on offer today, it's all just marketing hype propaganda. Here are a couple of examples. Contradictory statements from their own website.

    (1) They can't provide a service which remedies injustice for individuals for the simple reason that they are legally restricted to recommendations only. Recommendations which can be ignored and indeed often are. "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, ....."

    (2) Their service is not accessible to all because they can arbitrarily refuse access to their service to anyone they choose."We do not have to investigate every complaint received, even if we have the power to do so." 
     
    Footnote:LGO pillar of injustice number 11, they are free to engage in propaganda (or as Justice Lightman calls it an evangelical agenda). Something a real system of justice, such as a court or tribunal, can't do.