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Local Government Ombudsman reports on complaints against Kent's district and borough councils over discretionary housing payments, parking on double yellows and noisy neighbours

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published data on the number of investigations it has carried following complaints about local authorities across Kent.

The figures which apply to the year April 2020 till April 2021 show that Maidstone Borough Council was the most investigated authority in the county with the Ombudsman undertaking 14 investigations. Of those, seven - exactly 50% - of complaints were upheld.

The Local Government Ombudsman Michael King
The Local Government Ombudsman Michael King

The figures do not represent the total number of complaints made about a council. Those that are satisfactorily addressed by an authority's own complaints process, those that are obviously unfounded or unreasonable, and those where the basis of the complaint falls outside the Ombudsman's remit are not counted.

The figures show that Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and Gravesham were the least investigated authorities - with only one case. Four local authorities had no complaints against them upheld at all - they were Sevenoaks, Swale, Ashford and Gravesham.

When the Ombudsman, Michael King, upholds a complaint, he makes a recommendation to the authority about how the complaint should be rectified, which sometimes involves making a financial compensation payment to the complainant.

In all the Kent cases, the local authorities accepted the Ombudsman's recommendations.

Of the cases upheld against Maidstone council, one concerned the borough not having given due process to investigating a complaint of noise from a neighbour, one concerned a failure to give a resident who had been issued with a penalty charge notice sufficient time to pay it before adding an enforcement fee to the debt, and one involved a failure to take action against illegal parking on double yellow lines.

Councils in order
Councils in order

Other complaints included that the council had unfairly pursued a woman for unpaid Council Tax without properly explaining how the sum was arrived at, and that it had failed to take action against a breach of planning control nor explained why it had not done so, and for taking too long to determine a request for a discretionary housing payment.

Details of the seventh complaint were not released.

For more information about the ombudsman's investigations visit here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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