The Ombudsman's role and his powers are subject to far too many restrictions, and Peter Tyndall has done a superb job under the circumstances to help ordinary people across Wales achieve at least some justice in their dealings with incompetent and at times unfair and even vindictive representatives of public bodies.
It would be good to hear his views on how he thinks the Ombudsman's role should be developed and the changes that are needed before he departs.
I for one am sorry to hear of Peter Tyndall's departure from South Wales, as I agree he is a man of honesty and integrity and those virtues are a rarity when it comes to the 'system' addressing some very serious issues.
Let us hope that the new Ombudsman has the same elements to his character.
Because of my own unfortunate involvement with CCC, I believe it is time for the Ombudsman to be afforded more powers with which to initiate investigations into 'misconduct in public office' as opposed to 'maladministration' which is a far less serious offence.
My experience is that the broadening of the Ombudsman's role during Peter Tyndal's tenure has often been to the detriment of the local democratic process. There has been no discernible improvement on the POSW's performance in addressing instances of maladministration. However there has been an increase in the number of judgements whereby councillors have been warned for not dutifully following the recommendations of officers in all things. How many cases where it has been confirmed that officers have exceeded their authority and/or acted unlawfully were the result of an Ombudsman investigation. I would venture that the number is very small indeed.
I remember seeing and hearing Peter Tyndall on television speaking about the case of Mrs Breckman. He came across so clearly as a person of great integrity and I was amazed at the strength of his statements.
Comments on this blog and others show that CCC justifiably deserves the title of"Rotten borough."
I don't agree with some of the sentiments here, purely due to my experiences during my own complaint to the Ombudsman. Yes, the report completely vindicated me and was extremely critical of Carmarthenshire County Council, but some will say, based upon the restrictions placed on the Ombudsman, not enough has been done to protect the vulnerable. The Ombudsman produced two reports concerning this complaint. Mine was a section 16 public Interest report and published. The other was also a section 16 report, but it had restrictions placed upon it by the Ombudsman and was not published. At the time, I thought the whole point of this was to allow Carmarthenshire County Council to hold officers who had failed to account, away from the public glare, but it soon became apparent to me that by giving officers anonymity, by allowing them to hide behind letters of the alphabet in both reports, and keeping the worst report secret, only served to protect officers and senior officers.
Peter Tyndall's request for further powers in March this year, to prosecute 3rd parties for making information from secret reports public, dismayed me. It is interesting to note that Mr Tyndall did not request more powers to prosecute officers who had failed, and allowed abuse to continue. I believe that all complaints upheld by the Ombudsman should be public interest reports, and all managers who have failed should be named and shamed. Lessons are only learnt through accountability, and to keep the identity of officers secret only serves to protect these officers.
The time is right for the Welsh Government to review the restrictions placed on this role, but as an independent regulator, the Ombudsman must then ensure that failing officers are held to account.
Hear, hear Delyth!
I wrote to the Ombudsman back in August requesting information. It was treated as a FOI request and was declined. I appealed to the Director of Investigations. That appeal was also refused. My appeal is now with the Information Commissioner's office.
I absolutely agree with Delyth Jenkins that 'lessons will only be learned' through naming and shaming - accountability has to be the key word. I also wish that had happened in my case - but the Ombudsman does not have those powers. I am too left frustrated in that although there has been an investigation, together with recommendations - with an apology to me requested - but never received. Such is the arrogance of these officers that when I have had the justifiable cause to write further to the enforcement department - recently -they continue, against all Ombudsman's recommendations, to ignore my e.mails completely - the height of rudeness - I do not even get an acknowledgement. It is truly disgraceful conduct on their behalf, but par for the course if you are on their blacklist. I'm sure if they were employed within the private sector they would have at the very least been severely disciplined. I have had cause to write to the Chief Executive over the years requesting that he looks into his officers conduct, and all I receive back is gobbledegook. It really is about time for Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Local Government to intervene. Lessons have most certainly not been learned in my case - they 'do as they like' and will continue in this vein until the Welsh Government orders a Public Inquiry into the conduct of CCC staff.
They all need reminding they are public servants and are paid through the public purse.
Did he jump?
The Director of Investigations within the Ombudsman's office, states in her response to me that,
'It is worth noting that the public interest in MANY of the matters was met by the publishing of the report relating to your complaint'. That is just not good enough. The public Interest in ALL of the matters should have been met at the time. I urge Peter Tyndall, the Ombudsman, to do the right thing and make public, further damning evidence about this case, evidence that has been hidden from public view for far too long. He has nothing to lose now, but the service for vulnerable, defenceless service users with learning disabilities, many of them who cannot communicate verbally, has everything to gain.
He needs to show that he is, just that, an independent regulator and that his priority is ensuring the safety of the vulnerable.
When I was first interviewed by the Ombudsman's investigator in June 2007, she told me that lying within an Ombudsman's investigation was like lying in a Court of law, and could be perjury. Every word I have said over the past 8 years regarding this complaint has been the truth. There is evidence within both Ombudsman's reports that officers of the Council did not say the truth. So why didn't the Ombudsman deal with these officers in the manner they threatened to deal with me if I didn't say the truth? When I met with the investigator again in early 2008, as she left, she told me she believed every word I had said. There was no better testimony than that. I was also pleased to hear the Ombudsman say on SAC'S 'Taro 9 programme. that I was right to complaint to him, and in the Ombudsman's report, he criticised the current head of mental health & learning disabilities when he said that I should have exhausted every avenue before going to the Ombudsman. Peter Tyndall said I was entirely justified in taking my complaint to him. I had by this time exhausted every avenue, and it was nearly a year down the line from when I first complained to the Council.
Post a Comment