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Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Report Number: 200602756. Report Date: 23/09/2009

Overview

The complainant (Mrs C) raised a number of concerns about the care her son received from Social Work Services at Aberdeen City Council (the Council) through the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) in the months prior to his death in 2006. Mrs C raised these concerns through the Council's complaints process, up to and including a Social Work Complaints Review Committee (CRC). The CRC made a number of resolutions (duly noted by the Council) but advised Mrs C that the actions and decisions of the CMHT were not a matter the CRC could consider. Mrs C complained to the Ombudsman's office about her original concerns and that the CRC had ruled the actions of the CMHT out of its remit. Mrs C was unhappy that it appeared that her complaints should rather have been addressed through the NHS complaints procedure but the Council had not advised her of this earlier.

Specific complaints and conclusions

The complaints which have been investigated are that:

  • (a) the CRC failed to appropriately address Mrs C's complaints (not upheld); and
  • (b) the Council failed to take adequate steps to collaborate with the NHS to ensure that Mrs C received a full response to her complaints (upheld).

Redress and recommendations

The Ombudsman recommends that the Council:

  • (i) ensure that guidance to CRC members and relevant staff clearly indicates the importance of careful drafting of the CRC minute, to ensure that a decision on each complaint considered is recorded and the basis for any recommendations is explained;
  • (ii) apologise to Mrs C for their failure to follow-up with the NHS on the joint issues of her complaint;
  • (iii) that guidance to CRCs and members of Council staff who support them is reviewed, to ensure that CRC minutes can fully reflect the conclusions reached and reasons for decisions made; and
  • (iv) advise him of the development and progress of an action plan from within the working group towards a policy for managing joint complaints in partnership with the NHS.

The Council has accepted the recommendations and is acting on them accordingly.

Report Number: 200602882.  Report Date: 17/06/2009

Overview

Mr and Mrs C complained to the Ombudsman's office that Aberdeen City Council (the Council) had failed to respond appropriately to complaints they made against a neighbour regarding their alleged behaviour. The complaints centred on, but were not exclusively about, noise emanating from their neighbour's property.

Specific complaints and conclusions

The complaints which have been investigated are that:

  • (a) telephone calls made by Mr and Mrs C to the Council's Neighbour Complaints Unit were either not recorded or not fully recorded (upheld);
  • (b) records of meetings held with the Council's Housing Department officials were either not recorded or not fully recorded (upheld); and
  • (c) the Council failed to take appropriate action in response to Mr and Mrs C's complaint of anti-social behaviour (not upheld).

Redress and recommendation

The Ombudsman recommends that the Council write to Mr and Mrs C, apologising for the failings identified in this report.

The Council has accepted the recommendation and has acted on it accordingly.

SPSO Case: 200502524. Date: 21 May 2008

The complainant (Mr C) claimed that Aberdeen City Council (the Council) failed to take appropriate action in response to complaints made by him regarding the anti-social behaviour of neighbours, and that the Council's response to his complaint about this was inadequate.

Specific complaints and conclusions

The complaints which have been investigated are that:

  • (a) there was inaction or inappropriate action taken by the Council in response to Mr C's complaints about anti-social behaviour (not upheld); and
  • (b) the Council's response to Mr C's complaint about their alleged inaction or inappropriate action was inadequate and inappropriate (not upheld).

Redress and recommendations

The Ombudsman has no recommendations to make.

SPSO Case: 200501215.  Date: 19 December 2007

The complainant (Mr C) raised a number of concerns about Aberdeen City Council (the Council)'s handling of his objection to his neighbours planning application for an extension to the neighbouring property.

Specific complaints and conclusions

The complaints which have been investigated are:

  • (a) failure to consider Mr C's request for a site visit by the Committee (upheld);
  • (b) dissatisfaction with the formal reply to Mr C's complaint about the failure to consider the site visit request (not upheld); and
  • (c) failure to consider the planning application properly (not upheld)

Redress and recommendation

The Ombudsman recommends that the Council ensure that appropriate procedures are in place so that the Committee is made aware of any requests for site visits that are made, and responds to them appropriately.  The Council have accepted the recommendations and will act on them accordingly.

SPSO Case: 200604038.  Date: 19 December 2007

The complainant (Mrs C) complained on behalf of her daughter (Miss A). She said that Aberdeen City Council (the Council) allocated Miss A a flat in 2002 that they had failed to designate as amenity housing due to an administrative failure. In February 2006, Miss A applied to the Council to buy the property. The Council wrote to Miss A on 10 August 2006 to advise that her application had been refused. They said that the flat had facilities that were substantially different from those of a normal property. They stated that it had been designed and adapted for occupation by a person of pensionable age, whose special needs require accommodation of the kind provided by the flat.

Specific complaint and conclusion

The complaint which has been investigated is that Miss A has not been able to purchase her Council flat under the right to buy scheme, because of an administrative failure by the Council (upheld).

Redress and recommendations

The Ombudsman considers a proposal made by the Council to Miss A to be a reasonable response and is satisfied as far as is possible that the Council have now taken steps to address the complaint. The Ombudsman also welcomes the Council's assurance that they will take a similar approach in response to other complaints of this nature. In light of this, the Ombudsman has no recommendations to make.

SPSO Case 200700021

The complainant (Mr C) is a tenant of the City of Aberdeen City Council (the Council).  He complained to the Ombudsman on 30 March 2007 about the Council's response to his reports regarding defects in the timing of the lighting in the stairway of his block.

Specific complaint and conclusion:

The complaint which has been investigated is that the Council failed since March 2006 to rectify a problem with the timing of the communal lighting system in Mr C's block

COMPLAINT NOT UPHELD

THE OMBUDSMAN HAS NO RECOMMENDATIONS TO MAKE

SPSO Case 200502645 

The complainant (Mrs C) alleged that a verbal payment agreement for Council Tax was not recorded or honoured by Aberdeen City Council.  It is also alleged that Council staff treated Mrs C abruptly when the complaint was initially raised.

The complaints which have been investigated are that

(a) the council failed to adequately record a verbal agreement reached between Mrs C and a member of staff regarding her payment schedule for Council Tax. Mrs C claims that this error resulted in a summary warrant being issued (upheld).
(b) staff failed to treat Mrs C with an open mind - Mrs C claims she was not believed by staff when referring to this previous agreement and was treated abruptly (not upheld).

The Ombudsman recommends that the Council

(i) devise and pilot a clear procedure for staff updating customer records once a verbal payment agreement has been reached via a face to face discussion. Ideally, this would include the production of a signed agreement which both parties can keep as a record. This would clearly prevent similar complaints from arising again; and
(ii) write an apology to Mrs C for the inconvenience and distress caused by the issuing of an unnecessary Summary Warrant.

Both these recommendations have been actioned by Aberdeen City Council.

Report by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman: Case 200502645

SPSO Case 200501102

A complaint was raised with SPSO about a bus service subsidised by Aberdeen City Council which the complainant wished to be re routed as it was alleged the diesel fumes were having an adverse effect on the complainant's health.

THE COMPLAINT WAS NOT UPHELD

Report by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman: Case 200501102

SPSO Case 200402393

Report by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman: Case 200402393

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