THE borough council has been given a mixed final report from a performance watchdog.
Last year, the Local Government Ombudsman, who checks claims that authorities have been guilty of maladministration, dealt with 41 complaints against Ellesmere Port & Neston.
However, only three of these resulted in the council having to reach a settlement with the complainant.
And just two involved the payment of compensation – £600 in one case and £2,000 in the other – following the Ombudsman’s judgment that maladministration had taken place and caused the person complaining “some significant injustice”.
This is the last report on the council before it disappears and is replaced by the new Cheshire West and Cheshire authority next April.
But Ombudsman Anne Seex makes the point that the 41 complaints she received had come in “sharp contrast” to just nine the previous year.
Ms Seex says she draws no conclusion from this other than to suggest the council reflects on possible causes for the increase.
She says no pattern emerged from the type of complaints received, although she did note 13 – the largest number – had been about planning and building control matters. She says this also might be something for the council to reflect on.
The Ombudsman asks for responses from all councils to reach her within 28 days but she notes that for the second year running Ellesmere Port & Neston took more than 35 days on average to reply to her enquiries.
While accepting that complex enquiries take more time, she asks the council to make more effort to ensure its responses come within 28 days.
Of the 43 decisions taken regarding the borough council - this differs from the 41 cases mentioned earlier because of work already in hand at the start of the year - 25 was determined as premature and a further three were outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
In four cases she decided not to pursue the complaint and in eight she found no evidence of maladministration.
Ms Seex ends her report by thanking the borough council for its “courtesy and co-operation” over the years.