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WC rapped for ignoring complaints

September 16, 2011 11:38 AM
By Trevor Carbin

County Hall TrowbridgeWiltshire Council has been criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman for failing to deal with complaints in a timely manner. Following a 10% increase in the number of complaints to the LGO last year the average time the council took to respond was 34 days. The LGO says councils should respond within 28 days maximum. The average was dragged up by the excessive amount of time taken on a few cases, according to the Ombudsman. The worst departments for dealing with complaints were housing and anti-social behaviour. In one case the council took over ten weeks to respond to the LGO.

There were ten cases of maladministration which the council settled by making payments to the victims, at a total cost of over £9,000. In another case the council paid out over £6,000 for mistreating a child with complex special needs. "This sum was based on the cost of missed respite provision, the devastating effect this had on the complainant and her family and her time and trouble in pursuing the complaint," said the Ombudsman.

Incompetence in the Housing department resulted in payouts of £750 after a sheltered housing applicant was left distressed and inconvenienced, and £400 was paid to a homeless family after "failures in the council's response to the families homelessness application".

For the relevant report to the Standards Committee including the Ombudsman's letter to chief executive Andrew Kerr see http://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/ieAgenda.aspx?A=5179