Street lights, parking fines and school transport - the complaints which cost Sheffield Council nearly £16,000 in compensation last year

The amount paid in compensation last year was a third of that handed out in 2015/16
The amount paid in compensation last year was a third of that handed out in 2015/16
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Sheffield Council paid out nearly £16,000 in compensation last year over complaints ranging from school transport to street lights shining through bedroom windows.

There were 20 complaints against the authority upheld by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) and two by the Housing Ombudsman during 2016/17, a new report reveals, resulting in pay-outs totalling £15,846.

By far the biggest sum was the £12,661 given to parents after the council was criticised for failing to provide school transport for their daughter who has special educational needs. The council says it has since taken steps to improve travel assessments.

The council was also censured for, among other matters, placing street lights outside people's bedroom windows, ignoring emails about parking fines, failing to provide suitable care and not compensating one man for damage caused by damp in his council home.

Last year's bill was around a third of the £46,491 compensation it paid in 2015/16.

The LGO upheld just under half of the 41 detailed investigations it undertook into Sheffield Council last year - the third lowest rate out of the eight core cities, behind only Manchester (33 per cent) and Nottingham (35 per cent).

The ombudsman received 175 enquiries about the council, the vast majority of which never led to a full investigation.

The highest number of those enquiries were about highways and transport, followed by education & children's services, and adult social care.

Delays in providing education, health and care plans for children with special educational needs prompted numerous complaints, and the ombudsman has warned the council to expect a public report into 'service failings' in that area.

But the council says plans have already been developed to address the issues raised and improve its performance.

The council also says it has reviewed how complaints about adult social care are handled, leading to the introduction of additional training for managers and better monitoring of the process.

The ombudsman only handles those complaints which the complainant believes have not been adequately resolved by the council.

Sheffield Council and its partners Capita, Kier and Veolia between them dealt with 3,269 formal complaints during 2016/17.

The annual ombudsman complaints report is due to go before councillors on the audit and standards committee next Thursday.

It was jointly written by Mark Bennett, the council's director of HR and customer services, and Gillian Duckworth, director of legal services.