Successful complaints against Peterborough City Council revealed

Successful complaints made against Peterborough City Council have been revealed.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 5:41 am

Complaints data for every council has been published by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman as part of its annual review of local government complaints.

The figures show 13 complaints were made against the city council between April 2020 and March 31, 2021, with eight being upheld.

In seven of those cases, the ombudsman made recommendations, all of which have been met by the council.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Peterborough Town Hall

Below is a list of the upheld complaints, including links to previous articles published by the Peterborough Telegraph:

Special educational needs

Three complaints:

. The council was at fault for a “delay and its conflicting and confusing handling” of the complaint and agreed to pay £150.

. The council was at fault not ensuring a child received provision set out in their Education, Health and Care Plan, as well as a delay in completing the child’s annual review and for poor complaint handling.

The council apologised, paid £4,000 to remedy the impact of the lost provision, paid another £500 to acknowledge the “frustration caused and time and trouble taken” to pursue the complaint, and agreed to review its procedures.

. A child was caused distress and missed out on a month of education and transition support by the council not amending his Education, Health and Care plan during his transition from primary to secondary school.

The council agreed to pay a total of £700 for distress caused due to the delays, the missed education provision and the complainant’s time and trouble.

Parking

In 2018, the complainant (Mrs D) and other residents complained to the council about parking issues in their street caused by a nearby school.

The council wrote to the residents of the street which set out different proposals including yellow lines (covering the area outside Ms D’s home) or restrictions around a junction.

It received seven responses from five properties (out of a possible 40): two in part support, one full objection and two commenting on other matters.

The council wrote to residents on August 12 that responses from the consultation meant opinions were “divided” and that it would therefore recommend that restrictions be made to the junction (which meant it would not install a yellow line on the street outside Ms D’s home).

On November 25, the parking restrictions came into effect.

However, the council later admitted that it had made an mistake in not considering non-responses as being in favour of the proposals which “would mean... more support for parking restrictions than against”.

The ombudsman criticised the council for not carrying out further consultation and for delays in responding to Mrs D’s complaints.

The council agreed to:

. Pay Ms D £200 for time and trouble pursuing her complaint

. Carry out a fresh consultation process for parking restrictions in the street where Ms D lives.

Adult care

After spending some time in hospital, Mrs Y sold her home and moved to a retirement complex in July 2015. Shortly afterwards, she made gifts totalling £60,000 to her adult children. The following year she transferred £67,000 into a separate account for the benefit of her grandchildren.

In June 2018, Mrs Y moved to a care home because her health had deteriorated. She paid for her own care. By November 2018, her finances had reduced to the point that Mrs X asked for assistance from the council on her behalf.

The council later decided that the £127,000 she gave away should be treated as “notional capital,” meaning she would be treated as still having that money. It said she would need to pay her own care costs.

In July 2019, the council reviewed the decision after a complaint by Mrs X. It decided it would not treat the gifts to her children as “notional capital,” but it would still treat the gift to the grandchildren as “notional capital”.

Mrs X’s solicitor complained to the ombudsman in December 2019.

The ombudsman said it was “appropriate for the council officers to meet Mrs Y to discuss her finances and the council was not at fault for doing so”.

However, its letter outlining its decision was said to not have been explained well, caused “uncertainty” and made it hard for the decision to be challenged.

It asked the council to apologise to Mrs X and within three months to review its processes.

Blue Badge

Ms X had had ulcerative colitis for more than 15 years and applied for a Blue Badge in October 2019. She said her condition meant she often needed urgent access to a toilet up to 30 times a day.

The council said Ms X had provided insufficient evidence demonstrating the impact of her ‘hidden’ disability upon her ability to walk during the course of a journey or the impact on her mobility.

Ms X appealed, explaining she had to plan journeys considering where parking and toilet facilities were in conjunction with each other and a Blue Badge would mean she could park nearer to facilities.

The council refused to allow the appeal on the basis Ms X had not provided additional evidence which would lead it to overturn the original decision.

The ombudsman said guidance states “where it is not self-evident that a person meets the criteria from information provided, a referral should be made to an expert assessor for certification. This did not happen and is fault”.

The council agreed to make a referral to an expert assessor and reassess Ms X’s application.

Children’s care

A complaint was made about the way the council dealt with a child protection investigation involving the 14-year-old daughter of one of the complainants.

The ombudsman said the council accepted there was a delay in D (the child) receiving specialist counselling after she was sexually assaulted.

It also said the council was at fault for not recording a specific decision on its reasons for not inviting her step-father to child protection conferences which included that he did not have parental responsibility for her and was an alleged perpetrator of violence towards her.

However, the ombudsman said the council was not at fault for putting D on a child protection plan, although a social worker did not provide D’s mother with a report two working days in advance of a conference, in line with its procedures.

The council was also said to be at fault for “failing to make a clear, recorded decision about how far to involve (the step-father) in the process and what to tell him, in line with its safeguarding procedures”.

The council agreed to:

. Apologise to the two adults for the lack of clarity in the decisions about how to involve the step-father in the child protection investigation and the agreement on contact restrictions, and for failing to write to each of them formally to say it had closed the case

. Pay them £150 each to recognise the impact of the failings in communications

. Remind relevant children’s social care staff of the need to: make a clear decision about which family members to involve in the child protection process and how to record its reasons

. Write to parents to tell them when Children’s Social Care closes a case.