• 6 March 2011 - Complainant wrote to Bexley council raising concerns about parking restrictions and enforcement.
• 22 March 2011 - Parking department replied concluding, “if dissatisfied submit complaint to council’s Deputy Director (Customer Relations)”.
• 28 March 2011 - Complainant emailed his dissatisfaction for the Deputy Director’s attention.
• 15 April 2011 - No reply so complainant emailed again.
• 2 May 2011 - No reply so complainant emailed again.
• 3 May 2011 - Reply received as follows…
‘Dear Sir/Madam Thank you for your email. I have had a look into your case for you and your case has been closed and you will receive no more communications concerning your case. Regards Parking Services’
On 19 December 2011 the Ombudsman ruled…
The Council has clearly failed to give the complainant any substantive response to his complaint, despite the complainant repeatedly pointing out that he had received no reply. The Council’s letter of 22 March had told the complainant how to take the matter further and he tried to do so. The Council’s response of 3 May exacerbated matters and I can well understand the complainant finding it cursory and discourteous. The Council’s other responses were ineffective. It seems wholly inadequate simply to keep forwarding the complaint, at lengthy intervals, to a section of the Council that did not reply. The Ombudsman considers it important that councils deal with complaints effectively and reasonably promptly. It is concerning that several sections of the Council all failed to ensure that anyone actually replied to the complainant over some seven months.
These failures amount to maladministration, which caused the complainant avoidable frustration and uncertainty.
Deputy Director Mike Frizoni has apologised but not without blaming Bexley’s failure on their “automated system”. Mr. Frizoni’s letter referred to the original parking enquiry by saying “The response set out the Council’ s position with regard to enforcement using CCTV vehicles and having reviewed this service, I am satisfied the legal requirements for its operations are being fully met”. Notomob will be suitably impressed I am sure.
The Ombudsman’s correspondence reveals that he plans to feature Bexley’s failure on the LGO’s website.