10:30AM, Thursday 12 November 2015
Fair Funding campaigners have found themselves ‘back to square one’ after they say they were told complaints to the Royal Borough would not be officially lodged if they didn’t use the word ‘complaint’.
Bethan Osborne, one of the leading representatives of the campaign, has been corresponding with David Scott, head of education, and Alison Alexander, director of education and now managing director, since its decision to award £480,000 of developer funding to Holyport College at full council on April 28.
Mrs Osborne, of Gringer Hill, contacted the Local Government Ombudsman regarding the issue but says she was told she had not exhausted the complaints procedure at the borough, and the council would not take her comments as a complaint without her using the actual word in her emails.
“I am surprised they didn’t direct me to the complaints procedure,” said the mother-of-two.
“Five months have elapsed and we are practically back to where we were at the beginning.
“It has not been a waste of time though, because we have had the meetings and discussions and our complaints are more focused.”
In order to approach the Ombudsman, you have to ‘prove that there is a personal injustice’, and, for that reason, campaigners have to lodge complaints as individuals rather than as a collective.
Asked why the group has persevered with the campaign, Mrs Osborne said: “I think it is very strongly held views by a diverse population of people; there is no one political view or anything else ideological driving us.
“It is the common sense of unfairness expressed by parents, grandparents, teachers and general members of the public who have seen what is happening and don’t believe it is right.
“It is down to the court of public opinion.”
A spokesman from the borough said: “Officers endeavour to answer questions from members of the public – if during the course of that dialogue a member of the public expresses a wish to make a complaint then they will be assisted to do this.
“Our complaints policy and procedure is clearly outlined on our website along with the various ways to make a complaint including by telephone, email, letter or by filling in a online form.”
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