Streetspace Complaint Taken To Local Government Ombudsman
Claim made that councillors' membership of cycling group is a conflict of interest
A complaint by members of a Park Road residents’ group has been elevated to the Local Government Ombudsman.
The basis of the complaint is that Hounslow Council failed to properly address concerns that were raised about an alleged conflict of interest for councillors who were members of or had strong ties to the London Cycling Campaign (LCC).
It is claimed that this resulted in the council’s own surveys, the views of the emergency services and those of the elderly and disabled being ignored when Streetspace measures were introduced in Chiswick.
The group says that Freedom of Information requests have shown the depth of the relationship between a few councillors and officers and the LCC.
A statement from the Park Road Residents Group says, “Those FOIs also demonstrate that the Council is prepared to waste staggering amounts of money on schemes that are in the interest of the few, whilst at the expense of the many.”
The council and the councillors concerned have dismissed the suggestion that being a member of the non-profit LCC could constitute a conflict of interest and added that there has always been complete transparency about the councillors’ membership and the council’s support for active travel measures which is also the policy of the central government.
The council have also pointed out that the schemes have been introduced on a trial basis through an Experimental Traffic Order and resident feedback will be considered in a review at the end of the trial.
A spokesperson for the LGO said that it was not its policy to confirm whether an investigation taking place. An investigation is begun when it has confirmed the complainant has completed the complaints process and that the authority is within its jurisdiction.
A complaint has to come from a member of the public who has been personally affected by an alleged injustice within the last year.
The LGO has limited powers in investigating councillor conduct issues. It can review whether the investigation the council did in looking into the complaint it received was handled properly. However, it doesn’t have powers to look at the substantive issue complained about.
If the Ombudsman finds that the council was at fault it can require it to make changes to procedures and, in certain circumstances ask the authority to compensate the complainant if they have suffered financially.
May 1, 2021