Wimbledon Park Hall
Update on the complaint to the local Government Ombudsman
Chairman's report (from the Easter 2011 newsletter)
Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) Report
The final report from the LGO was received in February this year, almost one year since the complaint was originally issued. (What’s another year!) Whilst we were pleased the Ombudsman found that there was maladministration by the Council, causing injustice to the WPRA, the remedy recommended of a payment of £1500 by the Council to the Association, we find totally derisory and reflects in no way the loss of amenity suffered due to the, largely inexplicable delays.
However, we were dismayed by the seeming inability of the Ombudsman to appreciate the clear facts of the complaints in two areas. The first was the implications from the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel on the 6th July 2004 which recommended ‘that the funds from the sale of the hall be used solely for a community hall....’ and the subsequent Cabinet meeting on the 19th July 2004 where the cabinet resolved that, ‘the comments of the borough development plan Overview and Scrutiny panel on the draft brief for the redevelopment of the (hall) site be agreed and the planning brief.......’
In our view this clearly indicates that the funds from the sale of the hall were effectively ‘ring-fenced’ for the redevelopment. As it turns out, the Council subsequently used the funds to redeem debt.
The second issue was the clear lack of any penalty clause (which we understand would be a standard inclusion in any commercial contract) in the contract between the Developer and the Council. In fact there is a reference in the contract to a penalty clause – which actually does not exist! This fact was ignored entirely!
There is no subsequent appeal process available to the Association apart from pursuing a Judicial Review. This is totally impractical in view of the cost implications.
According to the Ombudsman, the Council has to consider the report and tell the Ombudsman, within three months of receiving it, what action it has taken or intends to take. The Ombudsman will write to us when she has heard from the Council.
Overall I would have to say that we are very disappointed with the time the complaint has take to reach its conclusion and the poor level of appreciation of significant aspects of our complaint.
PS -Since this report we have received a Cheque for £1500 from the Council and in July we received a final letter from the LGO.
Click on this link to see the LGO letter.