Greater Lincolnshire

Complaints rise against Lincolnshire councils – but decrease in districts

The three main authorities in Greater Lincolnshire have together seen the highest number of complaints made against them in the past five years.

Annual reviews sent out by the Local Government Ombudsman to all authorities across the UK, also show that district councils have seen the lowest numbers of complaints in that same period.

Figures within the reviews show that overall district council’s had 100 complaints made against them in 2017-18 — a figure which despite a leap from 119 to 136 in 2013-14 to 2014-15, has been slowly decreasing since then.

However, Lincolnshire County Council, along with Unitary Authorities North and North East Lincolnshire last year received 188 complaints overall — the highest in the past five years.

The largest of those three, the county council, received 73 complaints — on its own the lowest in its five year period.

David Coleman, Lincolnshire County Council’s chief legal officer, said: “The council recognises the importance of the role of the ombudsman and the ombudsman’s annual report.

“Indeed details of the upheld cases listed in this report were reported to the county council at its meeting in May.

“The number of complaints to the ombudsman is not directly comparable between councils because of their different populations.

“For Lincolnshire County Council the number of complaints is falling as is the number of detailed investigations that the Ombudsman carries out, but like every council, there are a number of occasions every year where it is not possible to resolve a complaint through our own processes and an independent view is required.

“Where this has happened, we aim to learn from the ombudsman’s investigation and incorporate any recommendations into our training and operations as appropriate.”

Both North and North East Lincolnshire councils saw their highest number of complaints in five years at 54 and 61 respectively.

At lower tier levels, East Lindsey District Council saw the most complaints made against it to the ombudsman in 2017/18 – again though, this was its lowest in five years.

Boston Borough and North Kesteven District councils both shared the honour of the lowest numbers of complaints in the last year with just eight each.

Out of the 1,421 decisions made by the LGO for all the Greater Lincolnshire councils over the past five years, the ombudsman has upheld complaints in 135 detailed investigations, and not upheld 222 complaints.

A spokesman for the Local Government Ombudsman said that nationally, the organisation had increased the number of detailed investigations it had upheld from 46 per cent in 2014 to 57 per cent in 2017-18.