Gardener worms cash out of the Town Hall

THE PLIGHT of the humble slowworm contributed to Barking and Dagenham Council forking out �3,000 in compensation this year. Watchdog the Local Government Ombudsman ordered Town Hall bosses to pay people for their time and trouble after finding that some c

THE PLIGHT of the humble slowworm contributed to Barking and Dagenham Council forking out �3,000 in compensation this year.

Watchdog the Local Government Ombudsman ordered Town Hall bosses to pay people for their time and trouble after finding that some complaints and requests were not dealt with promptly. The council had to shell out:

l �100 to a gardener for failing to ensure slowworms were moved at the correct time during the relocation of allotments

l �250 for failing to accept an application and issue a house-bidding number to a resident about to be made homeless


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l �250 for distress caused to a tenant about to be evicted after the council did not accept their homeless application soon enough.

l �100 for a complainant's time and trouble after failing to respond to letters from their MP.

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l �250 to a resident when they printed his new address - a breach of the Data Protection Act.

l �150 for a 14-month delay in dealing with the quality of caretaking and gardening work at a tenant's home.

l �100 for a resident's time and trouble after failing to supply, on request, the minutes of a council meeting.

l �250 compensation after a ten-month delay in forwarding a resident's overpayment appeal and providing information.

The Town Hall also agreed to review the future of a tree after complaints by a resident. And they also apologised for making an inappropriate remark on file about the resident's father.

The watchdog settled a total of 73 complaints against the council in 2008/9. The majority concerned housing problems, such as delays in repairs.

In one case, a new tenant was given �320 compensation when their kitchen was not fixed before they moved in.

And another received �314 for substantial repair hold-ups.

In another case, a harassed neighbour was awarded �500 after enduring two years of noise nuisance from the flat upstairs. The tenancy conditions were later changed so laminate flooring could not be installed without prior council approval.

The Ombudsman also ordered the council to pay �500 compensation and apologise after it ignored a resident's right of access to an alley.

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