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More than half of complaints made against Bolton Council by residents upheld

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

More than half of complaints made against Bolton Council by residents upheld 14323591

More than half of complaints made against Bolton Council were upheld by the ombudsman, figures show.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman issued its annual report.

In Bolton the body upheld 64 per cent of complaints after an investigation, forcing the Town Hall chiefs to pay out.

Between April 1, 2021, to 31 March, 2022, 64per cent of complaints made to Bolton Council, investigated by the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman, were upheld.

This means that 14 decisions were upheld, which is based on 22 detailed investigations.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “Bolton Council’s planning department has processed more than 2,350 planning applications in the last year.

“Significant efforts have already been made to address the concerns raised and to clear the Covid-19 backlog.

“This includes the recruiting of new officers and the introduction of a new IT system.

“Overall, the number of complaints represents only a very small percentage of the work we do across a wide range of diverse services.

“The council takes all complaints seriously, and as an opportunity to learn and improve services for our residents.”

Planning concerns in Bolton were amongst the most common complaints upheld by the Ombudsman during last year.

In June of last year, a resident complained that planning permission for a quarry site was not dealt with properly, where the ‘height of mounds around the quarry and vehicle movements’ ‘adversely impacted’ his building.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report explained that this has now been ‘satisfactorily changed’, but that this was not the fault of the council.

However, the complaint resulted in the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman finding the council at fault due to delay in ‘taking enforcement action’ and ‘not properly’ considering ‘whether enforcement action is necessary’.

The council were then required to pay £200 for the resident’s ‘distress’, as well as having to conduct a new review.

More than half of complaints made against Bolton Council by residents upheld 14323597

Another complaint was filed in March 2022, where a resident complained about the council’s decision to approve a large storage facility on land near her home.

The report says that it ‘found fault because the wording of a planning policy document is unclear and ambiguous’.

This resulted in an apology being issued to the resident for any ‘confusion’, as well as requiring the council to ‘review the document and correct it as necessary’.

It added: “It should also review its document checking processes to avoid similar faults in future.”

More than half of complaints made against Bolton Council by residents upheld 14329961

In October 2021 a resident complained the council’s Adult and Children’s Services did not assist her between August and October 2019 despite her requests.

She says the council did not check to make sure her needs were being met, and that this meant she had to pay privately to access services, which should have been made available to her.

After the Ombudsman found the council at fault, they ordered them to apologise to the resident and ‘make a payment of £250 to Ms X in recognition of the injustice identified’.

In another complaint the council were also found to be at fault when it found that it served an invalid noise abatement notice, meaning its attempt to prosecute residents was unsuccessful.

The council offered to pay the resident £400, but they later increased this to £600, following the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

In the report it says: “Having reviewed the evidence it had gathered through noise monitoring, and Mr J’s diaries, the council decided the neighbours were causing a statutory nuisance through playing loud music.

“After the neighbours continued to create the nuisance, the council then decided to prosecute them.

“It was only just before the court was due to hear the case that the council realised it had served the abatement notice in the name of previous tenants.

“The council was also at fault for its poor complaint handling, but it has already offered an adequate remedy for this. We find no fault in other elements of the complaint.”

The Ombudsman upheld 69 per cent of complaints in the North West, which has increased from 65 per last year.

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