William Eichler 25 February 2016

Council policy changes must be communicated clearly, ombudsman urges

Information about a council’s new transport policy ‘could have been clearer’, according to the local government ombudsman (LGO).

The LGO criticised Essex County Council for not being clear about transport policy changes during the school application process.

The ombudsman received 64 complaints from parents across Essex after the council changed the way it offered free school transport to secondary school pupils.

According to a report issued by the LGO, Essex failed to explain how parents could establish which was their closest school, and was also unclear about how it measured home to school distances.

The investigation also revealed the council did not properly consider individual circumstances during the appeal process, and did not provide clear reasons for its decisions.

Dr Jane Martin, the local government ombudsman, said: ‘When making significant changes to policies which have an impact upon a large number of people, councils have a responsibility to make sure those changes - and their effects - are as clear as possible.’

The council has implemented a number of the report’s recommendations, including paying £300 each to two families who missed the opportunity to get free school transport.

Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, emphasised the LGO found no problems with the process by which the school transport policy was formulated and implemented.

He also welcomed the fact the report noted information about the policy changes were published and available to parents when making their applications for school places.

‘As an organisation,’ the counsellor said, ‘we are always keen to learn from feedback and had already implemented some of the recommendations in the ombudsman’s report prior to its receipt.

‘The report does not alter the basis of the policy and there are no plans to change the criteria for school transport.’

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Waking Nights Support Worker - Achieve Together - Holland Road

Essex County Council
Up to £19760 per annum
Essex County Council (ECC) are delighted to be supporting Achieve Together to recruit Support Workers for their supported living service, Holland Road England, Essex, Clacton-On-Sea
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Enablement Support Worker

City of Bradford MDC
£18,887 - £19,264
People who are driven, energetic, enthusiastic, motivated, and are committed to delivering good quality person centred care. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Home Carer - Fambridge Care LTD

Essex County Council
Up to £20000 per annum
Home Carer - Fambridge Care LTDPermanent, Full Time and Part Time £9.50 to £9.70 per hourLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Bank Support Worker - Achieve Together - Braintree

Essex County Council
Negotiable
Essex County Council (ECC) are delighted to be supporting Achieve Together to recruit Bank Support Workers for their residential service, Peach Cot England, Essex, Braintree
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Support Worker - Achieve Together - Peach Cottage and Lynray

Essex County Council
Up to £18525 per annum
Essex County Council (ECC) are delighted to be supporting Achieve Together to recruit Support Workers for their residential service, Peach Cottage England, Essex, Braintree
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.