A mistake twenty five years ago has been accepted by Epping Forest District Council as maladministration. The Council agreed a report by the Local Government Ombudsman that it did not carry out proper procedures in responding to a request from Essex County Council for information about the history of a local waste transfer business. A letter issued by the council in 1980 indicated that the site had an established use whereas at that time there was insufficient evidence to support the view. As a result two complainants have suffered noise, nuisance and a possible fall in the value of their properties. The Council has apologised for the error.
Essex County Council was equally criticised by the Ombudsman for taking the District Council information at face value when issuing a licence to the business. The Ombudsman has recommended that each complainant be paid £1,000, that the feasibility of relocating the transfer station continues to be pursued and if this proves not possible, to pay compensation to the complainants for any loss in value of their properties.
Councillor Mrs Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council commented on the findings of the Ombudsman. She said: This case is unique. The Ombudsman had never before been asked to go over a complaint with its origins in the early 1960s. Many of the people involved moved on long ago and we were heavily dependant on file records. While we accept and have apologised for the errors made in 1980, I am also pleased to see that the Ombudsman approved of our subsequent approach when we began to re-investigate this case in 1999, since when the Council has behaved entirely correctly.
Under the terms of the Ombudsman investigation, Epping Forest District Council is not allowed to reveal the real names and location of the business at the centre of the complaint. In his conclusion, Local Government Ombudsman Tony Redmond says: I find no maladministration in the manner in which the authorities dealt with the subsequent complaints about the site “ the District took the matter seriously and has tried to resolve a particularly intractable problem.
A full copy of the Ombudsman`s report can be found on the Local Government Ombudsman website.
Click here to view the full report from the LGO
Copies of the Ombudsman`s report can also be obtained at the Council`s information desks at Civic Offices in Epping, Town Hall, Highbridge Street in Waltham Abbey and the Library at Traps Hill in Loughton from 6 December for four weeks.