Council ordered to pay £4,000 for poor advice
An East Anglian council has been ordered to pay a home owner £3,000 for incorrectly advising him the property next door would be demolished.
The Local Government Ombudsman ruled Norwich Council did not consider ‘best value’ when it decided to demolish the structurally unsound property.
The owner of the semi-detached house next door, who had bought it for his daughter to live in while she went to university, offered to buy the site when the council told him of its plans.
He employed a solicitor and got a survey done only for the council to later decide not to knock down the property but sell it by auction. On the advice of its solicitor, the council had re-evaluated the demolition and concluded it was not ‘best value’.
The man complained to the ombudsman saying the original decision to demolish was flawed and that the way the council had dealt with the issue was also flawed.
He also said he had been caused great anxiety and incurred solicitors’ and professional survey fees of around £6,000.
In her report ombudsman Dr Jane Martin writes: ‘I cannot say for certain that if the council reached its decision properly, Mr Williams would have avoided all of his costs.
‘I cannot know whether, for example, Mr Williams may have carried out a survey of the properties in order to consider placing a bid at auction.
‘However, it seems to me that the key reason that Mr Williams incurred the costs that he did was the concern that stemmed from the council advising him it would be demolishing the adjoining property.’
Members of the public should be able to rely on the advice and information given by the council, Dr Martin added.
She recommended the council to pay him £3,000 – half the fees the complainant incurred - plus £1,000 for his time and trouble in pursuing the complaint.