The Waterways Ombudsman and the Waterways Ombudsman Committee have issued their Annual Reports for 2018/19.
This is the seventh and final annual report of the current Ombudsman, Andrew Walker, before he hands over to his successor, Sarah Daniel, on 26 July.
During the year the Ombudsman received 43 enquiries about the Trust, up from last year’s 35, although given the low numbers this is not a significant change. Fifteen new investigations were opened, which was one more than the previous year, and the number of completed investigations was 13.
- Of the 13 investigations completed, one was upheld in part, while in a further two cases the Ombudsman achieved a mediated settlement which was agreed by both parties in each case. A goodwill award was proposed in the case which was partly upheld, which the complaint accepted.
- As before there was a very diverse range of complaints, and again the majority were about boating issues.
- One of the complaints was about the Trust’s licensing review and consultation, both in terms of the process of conducting the review, and the outcome. The Ombudsman found no evidence that the review process was flawed, and the outcome was a policy decision for the Trust, which was outside his remit.
The Ombudsman’s report includes brief reviews of all completed investigations, but more detailed summaries are available on the website.
As in previous years feedback from complainants, to the customer survey about the investigation process, has been very positive. Complainants are asked to complete a survey before a report into their complaint is issued to gauge their view of the process rather than the outcome.
On the eve of his stepping-down from the role the Ombudsman said:
“The work has proved to be fascinating, and at times quite challenging. I have been very grateful for the support of my Committee, which over the past few years has frequently been invaluable. I wish my successor well.”
The Waterways Ombudsman Scheme continues to be approved by its Competent Authority, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, in line with the requirements set out in the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Regulations.
The Waterways Ombudsman scheme deals with complaints about the Canal & River Trust which are referred to the Ombudsman after completion of the Trust’s own complaints process.
The Waterways Ombudsman Committee oversees the work of the scheme and remains satisfied with the operation and funding of the scheme.
The annual report of the Waterways Ombudsman Committee and the Waterways Ombudsman for 2018-19 is now available online