OFFICE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFUSES MY REQUEST FOR AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY Civic Place Project
MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFUSES MY REQUEST FOR AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY
Dear Mr Andjelkovic
Thank you for your email of 7 May 2021 to the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Shelley Hancock MP, regarding your concerns about Liverpool City Council. The Minister has requested that the Office of Local Government (OLG) respond on her behalf.
While I note your concerns about the performance of Liverpool City Council, I am not able to directly assist you at this time. It is necessary that I explain the role of the Office of Local Government (OLG) in monitoring council operations.
Councils are established as largely independent and self-governing bodies with rights and powers conferred by law. They are ultimately accountable to their electors for their actions.The Local Government Act 1993 does not give the Minister for Local Government power to investigate a council. However, the Minister may request the Deputy Secretary, Local Government, Planning and Policy to do so. The Deputy Secretary has the power to authorise an investigation into any aspect of a council or of its work and activities.
The Deputy Secretary is not obliged to start an investigation into every allegation or complaint received. The discretion to investigate is guided by a number of factors. The Deputy Secretary must first take into account OLG’s role in responding to complaints about councils. Our primary role is to intervene only if there is a serious breakdown in council operations or major flaws in key council processes. There are also a number of specific complaint assessment policies that guide the Deputy Secretary’s consideration. These include, for example, that:
local issues should be referred to the council by complainants, using the council’s complaint handling system.
OLG’s investigative resources should not be used to duplicate the work of other investigative agencies.
matters raised with OLG will not be investigated if they would be more properly dealt with by another authority.
to warrant an investigation, complaints must contain enough information to establish some possible wrongdoing on the part of the council.
OLG will not investigate matters that are too old, trivial in nature, relate to policy decisions of the council, or relate to other matters that should be left to the local community to resolve.
The decision not to pursue your complaint is one that has been taken based on these considerations.
The electoral process is the most important mechanism for holding councils accountable for their conduct and administration. The local community is free to demonstrate its support or dissatisfaction with the performance of individual councillors or the council as a whole when voting at council elections.
Thank you for bringing this matter to the Government’s attention.
Chris Allen Director, Sector Performance & Intervention