Having just read the article on LGO Corruption and Cover Ups we think our experience of the LGO supports it. We used to live in Wolverhampton next door to a compulsive builder who was refused planning permission for a "Buckingham Palace" type wall, gates and railings because it was ruled visually obtrusive. Some of his other building work had been given retrospective permission by Wolverhampton Council. However, he asked about permitted development after the refusal and was given some misleading information by the Council so then came forward on to the public highway, dug up the grass verge and part of the footpath and built it on the public highway. He knew what he was doing because his original drawings showed the correct boundary. Despite residents providing Deeds and boundary documentation immediately he started excavating, the Council did nothing until the construction was built. 3 Years later after numerous complaints by residents to the Council and the Ombudsman, and with the support of an M.P, the Ombudsman recommended that the wall, gates and railings should be demolished and rebuilt at the expense of the Council who could not prove that they had asked him to stop building. The resident blockaded the wall with cars to prevent demolition and engaged an expensive solicitor who asked the Council to stop-up the highway so that he could keep his construction. (He's not short of a bob or two. He is a professional foster parent!)
This was refused by the Council as all in the road objected and wanted their highway back.
He then went to the Ombudsman again and guess what? He over-ruled himself!
He changed his mind and said that the Council should apply for the stop-up under section 116 of the Highways Act 1980 to give him the land. By this time we had moved away and the new owners decided they would jump on the band wagon and get some land so supported him. On 11th February it went to Magistrates Court and he lost the case. The Judge stated that he was satisfied that the land was necessary to the public. The residents won a victory and everyone in the road were delighted. However, he appealed through his Solicitor and on 11th June won that appeal on a technicality. Evidently as long as there is sufficient room for the public to pass along what was left of the footpath the stop-up had to be done under the Act. The Judge said he granted the Appeal "reluctantly". He stated that "the Council had presided over the retrospective validation of a wrongful appropriation of highway land and the Appellant has therefore been rewarded for his wrongdoing."
He stated "The apparent 'volte face' (I think that means changed decision) by the Local Government Ombudsman is difficult to understand but it plainly influenced the action taken by the Council in making the application".
He refused the Appellant his claim for costs of £12,000 saying that the request was absurd. "He had stolen the land". Small consolation for the residents who have to live next to the ugly construction, now painted white to hide the rust.
There does not seem to be any way these Ombudsmen can be challenged. If you want to complain about them you can only go back to them directly. The Government should sort them out. They are an absolute disgrace. They have in this case condoned a flagrant breach of the law.