LGSS Law

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Ombudsman criticises council for failing to determine village green application made 11+ years ago

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has criticised Cornwall Council over its failure to determine a village green application made more than 11 years ago.

The man first applied to the council to have a piece of land in his village considered as a village green in 2008, with the backing of 146 fellow residents.

Since then, Cornwall has not held a public inquiry into the application, and has delayed making a decision.

The village green application remains undetermined meaning the land’s future remains unclear, the LGO said.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for unnecessarily delaying the determination process and for not keeping the man updated on developments.

Cornwall has been asked to make a decision on whether to hold a public inquiry, which it has now agreed to do.

It has also been asked by the LGO to:

  • apologise to the man;
  • provide him with a monthly update on the status of his application;
  • pay him £300 for the uncertainty caused and another £300 for his time and trouble in making the complaint to the Ombudsman.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “While I appreciate this particular application has been beset with complications, it nevertheless would have been good administrative practice to keep the man updated and informed about its progress.

“The man has been put to significant time and trouble over the past decade over the matter, and is now concerned that as several original members of his group have passed away, this will have an impact on the group’s ability to present evidence to any future inquiry.

“I welcome that Cornwall Council has now decided to hold a public inquiry into the case and hope this will resolve the situation for all concerned.”

A spokesperson for Cornwall said: “We accept the findings of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report and apologise for the impact the delays have had on the individuals involved. We are planning for a public inquiry to take place in the autumn.”

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