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Very few council complaints investigated

 
Created on 08/10/2019 @ 20:17
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Despite 67 complaints being sent from Powys to Nick Bennett, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, very few are taken forward to be investigated.

At Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, councillors were told that the number of complaints from the county for 2018/19 had been 67. But only four had been investigated.

Monitoring Officer and Head of Legal Services, Clive Pinney, explained: “There’s a huge number of complaints that have not been taken forward by the Ombudsman’s service and I think that’s very important.”

Mr Pinney added that the Ombudsman’s annual letter included a breakdown of which areas the complaints had been made in, but that the information did not have last year’s breakdown for comparison.

“Importantly only four were investigated,” said Mr Pinney. There are a total number of 10 Code of Conduct complaints made this year against county councillors, that’s a drop from 19 in the previous year.

“The complaints are coming down, but the number of complaints against community councillors is still quite high at 15. Although it was 21 last year, so it is going down.

“Importantly the Ombudsman says that: please be assured I do not consider this indicative of falling standards of the council.

“Most of these complaints were not taken to investigation either because there was no evidence of conduct which was breaching the code or it was not considered to be in the public interest to consider the matter further.”

Mr Pinney suggested more work for county councillors on code of conduct matters and further training on the public interest.

“It’s pleasing to see the number of cases against the council and councillors is on the decline and I hope that continues.”

Council Leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, said: “I share the concern about the number of complaints, but there are only four investigated. He takes a few weeks to look at it to decide if they are worthy of investigation.”

Cllr Myfanwy Alexander added: “For a member of the public to make a complaint to the Ombudsman is a lot of paperwork.

“I don’t want to put people off making complaints, but on the other hand the success rate is very low.”

Cllr Alexander wondered if the rate was low because people were taking their complaints straight to the Ombudsman rather than through the local complaints process.

Complaints by Service

·      Adult Social Services – 4

·      Children’s Social Services – 8

·      Community Facilities, Recreation and Leisure – 2

·      Complaints handling – 13

·      Education – 5

·      Enviornment and Environmental Health – 4

·      Housing – 9

·      Planning and Building Control – 16

·      Road and Transport – 4

·      Various other – 2

Total – 67

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter
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