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Castle Point Council criticised for failure to fully implement remedy for overcharged taxi drivers
Castle Point Borough Council has failed to provide taxi drivers who it had overcharged since 2004 with compensation recommended by the Local Government Ombudsman in a 2011 report.
The Ombudsman, Anne Seex, says: “Drivers who have held a licence since 2004 have been caused an injustice due to the overcharging. The Council has not provided a full remedy for that injustice.”
In February 2011 the Ombudsman issued a report against the Council finding that it had overcharged licensed taxi drivers since January 2004. She asked the Council to reimburse the complainant – a licensed taxi driver – and to take steps to remedy the injustice caused to other drivers since 2004. The Council refunded £99 to that complainant and gave him £75 in recognition of his time and trouble in pursuing the complaint.
Mr A is also a licensed taxi driver. He complains that the Council has not provided a remedy for himself and 24 other drivers in line with the Ombudsman’s report. The Council has taken some steps, but Mr A says the Council’s action does not fully reimburse his losses.
Conversely, the Council says it has offered a free Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check worth £44 to all the affected drivers and it has reduced the licence fee. The Council says it has fulfilled the recommendations of the previous report.
The Ombudsman finds the Council has not implemented a remedy that meets the recommendations of her previous report. She welcomes the offer of the free CRB check but this is not enough to remedy the full injustice caused to Mr A and to the other drivers. The reduction in the licence fee cannot form part of the wider remedy because it merely moves the fee towards the amount it would have been had the fault in 2003 not occurred.
Mr A and other drivers who have held a licence since 2004 have been caused an injustice due to the overcharging. The Council has not provided a full remedy for that injustice.
The Ombudsman recommends the Council to:
calculate how much it has overcharged Mr A and the other 24 drivers and refund those amounts, and
pay £50 to Mr A in recognition of his time and trouble in pursuing the complaint.
As an alternative, the Council could pay £55 to Mr A and to each of the 24 drivers. This would be in addition to the free CRB check.
The Council should apply the same approach to remedying injustice in other similar cases that come to its attention.