Council asked to resolve drainage issue which damaged Norwich householder’s wall

Norwich City Council should carry out repairs to the drainage in a city street to prevent further damage being caused to a householder’s wall, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has said.

The Ombudsman has asked the council to take action after a woman complained that a blocked highways gulley meant water was pooling at the foot of her wall and causing damage to her property.

The woman first complained to the LGO in 2014 following impasse with the council. At the time the council argued it would not repair the highway till the woman repaired her wall. But the woman could not find a builder to do the work while the drainage problem remained outstanding.

The LGO recommended the council meet the woman to agree to the work needed, arrange for quotes from contractors to carry out work to both the wall and the gulley, and agree how the cost of the works would be split between them.

Officers told the woman she would need to get technical plans for the work drawn up and she spent nearly £2,000 on the plans. A civil engineer she contracted to examine the situation confirmed the drainage issue had been partly to blame for the damage to her wall. She emailed details to the council but received no reply.

The woman was forced to complain for a second time to the Ombudsman, as by 2016 the situation remained unresolved.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:

“I am issuing this report as Norwich City Council has not implemented the remedy it agreed with me in 2015. If a council fails to act on one of our recommendations, it is our job to publicly hold them to account.

“Members of the public can only have confidence in their local authorities’ integrity if they act in accordance with their promises.

“I now urge Norwich council to carry out my further recommendations within the timescales agreed and trust the matter with the wall and with the highway will be resolved.”

To remedy the complaint, Norwich City Council has agreed to get a quote from its preferred contractor and share it with the homeowner. It will ensure the work is completed within three months and meet half the cost of the work to rebuild the woman’s wall. It will also meet half of the reasonable costs the woman incurred for civil engineers to draw up the specification for the wall repair and pay her £250 in recognition of the time and trouble she went to in pursuing the complaint.

Article date: 10 January 2017