Monday, 2 March 2009

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I noticed today that Mr Crawley's job title has changed. Up until his letter of 18th November 2008 he signed himself as Senior Estate Manager, Eastern Team; in his February 2009 letters he's Deputy Area Housing Manager, Eastern Area Team. This means he's been promoted. (Note to self: find out whether Ms Parris has also been promoted).

I've drafted my letter to Mr Jones. I may wait till next Monday to send it, though, as the deadline for Wandsworth to respond to my court claim is in two days, 4th March. Then it takes a couple of days for the court to send me a copy of the response. Probably best to know what it is so I can incorporate it into my letter. 

Meanwhile, in the course of googling for other victims of council incompetence this week, I have discovered a network of dedicated campaigners who are trying to get an overhaul of the Local Government Ombudsman system. I'd never heard of LGOs before now, but my understanding is that they sit atop the incompetence pyramid, and arbitrate in cases where a local authority fails to resolve a complaint to the complainant's satisfaction, or the complainant believes the council is guilty of dishonesty, or maladministration, etc. However, the problem is, LGOs almost never find in favour of the complainant, and believe anything the council tells them. (If I've got any of this wrong, let me know).

One of these heroic campaigners is Trevor Nunn, (whose blog I've added to the blog list in the sidebar). He recently submitted a freedom of information request to every single council in England, via the What Do They Know? website, which provides a simple online method of making a FOI request, and publishes both the request and the result. 

Anyway, this is Trevor Nunn's question, (more details on his blog):
"During the last five years how many times has the Local Government Ombudsman (as a result of investigating a complaint against X District Council) brought to the attention of the council the fact that a member of X District Council staff had misled them, lied to them or done anything else to hinder their investigation. If they have what disciplinary action was taken against the individual(s) concerned by the council."
Mr Nunn updated his blog today, saying: "only one council out of hundreds...has admitted that a member of their staff has been criticized by the LGO". And in that case it was for removing some handwritten notes on a letter, and the member of staff was not disciplined.

Mr Nunn's post concludes:
"Over the last five years the LGO will have received over 80,000 complaints. The majority of which are complaints against one of the 400 or so Councils in England. Yet not one of these complaints led to the LGO criticizing a council member of staff for lying or misleading them during an investigation. I call that a statistical impossibility."


  1. Wow, why isn't this more widely known? Panorama, where are you in these troubled times?!

  2. I think it's possibly because people don't really care if they're not directly affected, and the majority of people are lucky enough not to be embroiled in battles with the council, or have given up long before they got higher up the complaints procedure -which is designed to be utterly exhausting and dispiriting.

    Another reason could be because by the time a complaint gets to an LGO it's inevitably so complex (having been preceded by possibly years of letters and arguments) that it requires a lot of effort on the part of the bystander, to understand the injustices perpetrated by a council. Take my case, which is only about simple issues but which has escalated into this epic struggle...I really doubt many blog readers will have bothered to read the whole thing.


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