Local Government Ombudsman statistics showed that rate of upheld complaints have fallen over past 12 months

New figures have revealed that 16 complaints were made to the Local Government Ombudsman about Scarborough Borough Council over the past 12 months.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 17th August 2020, 2:33 pm
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 2:37 pm
Scarborough Town Hall
Scarborough Town Hall

The complaints ranged issues about when bins were collected to claims of injuries suffered on council land and misleading road signs.

Of the 16 complaints made between March 31 2019 and March 31 this year, three were sent for detailed investigations by the independent ombudsman.

Two were not upheld and one was upheld, meaning the ombudsman found fault with the council. This means that the council’s upheld rate fell to 33 per cent having stood at 60 per cent in the previous 12 months.

The Local Government Ombudsman says that “similar” authorities to Scarborough Council have an upheld rate of 45 per cent.

In 2018 to 19 three out five complaints were upheld against Scarborough Council.

The number of complaints in total fell by eight over the previous year.

The one upheld complaint was from May last year when the ombudsman found against the council over the time it had taken to respond to a member of the public.

The actual complaint in the case was dismissed.

The ombudsman’s report stated: “Mr X complained about the council’s disability access provision at Scarborough Harbour and the council’s complaint handling.

“The ombudsman found fault with the council for not responding to Mr X’s stage two complaint in a timely manner.

“The ombudsman did not find fault with the council’s disability access provisions.

“The council has agreed to apologise to Mr X for the delayed complaint response.”

One of the dismissed complaints revolved around a resident’s requests for more patrols from parking wardens in his street.

The resident again referred to a Mr X by the ombudsman, complained that he was unable to park on his road due to vehicles parking illegally and had asked the council to have more patrols and to implement a residents’ parking scheme in his street.

He complained to the ombudsman that the council failed to take adequate action.

The Local Government Ombudsman report found that Scarborough Council correctly told the resident that a residents’ parking request had to be made to North Yorkshire County Council.

The borough council also provided details of the number of patrols and fines given out in Mr X’s street. The ombudsman found no fault with the way the complaint had been handled.

The ombudsman also declined to investigate an allegation that a racist remark by an inspector had lead to a business getting a poor food hygiene rating.

The inspector’s report adds: “Mr B owns a business which he runs with his wife, who Mr B describes as being of Afro-Caribbean descent.

“At the end of last year, as part of the council’s routine inspection programme, an inspector visited Mr and Mrs B’s premises.

“Mrs B answered the door to the inspector. Mr B says the inspector asked Mrs B if she was the ‘cleaning woman’ because of the colour of her skin.

“The inspector says she asked Mrs B if she was the housekeeper because she had answered the door holding a mop and bucket.”

Following the visit, the business was given a food hygiene rating that was one level below its previous mark and a complaint about the remark was made to the council by Mr B.

The council conducted its own investigation in which the inspector denied making a racist remark but was “apologetic” after it was brought to her attention.

The investigation concluded that no racist remark had been made and it had not impacted on the score given to the business. The ombudsman declined to follow up on the complaint as it would be “unlikely to reach a different outcome” from the council even though Mr B challenged the assertion that his wife was holding cleaning equipment when she answered the door.

Scarborough Council has been approached for comment.