The Waterways Ombudsman
Clearly, we always want to resolve any concerns or complaints internally. However, if after our responses you still feel dissatisfied with our proposed resolution you may wish to refer your complaint to the Waterways Ombudsman for consideration. The Ombudsman is independent of British Waterways and impartial. The Ombudsman does not make or influence British Waterways' policy, and can only investigate specific complaints which have recently completed the Complaints Procedure. There is no charge for using the services of the Ombudsman. If you need to know more please refer to the Ombudsman scheme's own website at www.waterways-ombudsman.org or contact the Ombudsman (details at the back of this leaflet).
What can be investigated?
Complaints from people who believe that they have suffered injustice because of maladministration or unfair treatment by British Waterways. Maladministration includes:
- doing something the wrong way
- doing something that should not have been done
- failing to do something that should have been done
Disagreeing with a decision taken by British Waterways is not in itself evidence of maladaministration, though failure to consider a decision properly can be.
The Ombudsman can consider most complaints which:
- are referred to her within six months of the completion of the Complaints Procedure; and
- concern things that came to the attention of the complainant no more than a year before the complaint was made to British Waterways.
The Ombudsman cannot investigate personnel matters or cases that have been, or are being, considered by a court and she cannot consider complaints made by businesses with an annual turnover of more than £1m.
How to complain
You should send the Ombudsman full details of your complaint and, if possible, copies of all correspondence between you and British Waterways. If you need help or advice to make your complaint to her, please contact the Ombudsman. You can ask someone such as a friend or solicitor to make a complaint on your behalf. However, you would have to pay any costs involved.
The Ombudsman Process
The Ombudsman will first let you know whether or not the complaint can be considered and then how far she believes it should be investigated. The Ombudsman may try to sort out the problem between you and British Waterways without undertaking a formal investigation.
The Ombudsman will obtain from British Waterways copies of any relevant letters and papers she requires. Both you and British Waterways may also be asked to provide further information.
At the end of the investigation, the Ombudsman will write to you and British Waterways with her decision. If the Ombudsman upholds your complaint and recommends action to put things right, British Waterways must act on her recommendations.
An Annual Report on the Ombudsman's work will be published, but will not include the names of complainants.
This report will be sent to the Inland Waterways Advisory Council and the Ministers responsible for British Waterways. The report is available on the Ombudsman's webiste.
You can also get a copy of the Ombudsman's Annual Report from BW's Customer Service Centre & local waterway offices, from the head of customer service or direct from the Ombudsman.
Seeking additional help and information
Further advice about using BW's Complaints Procedure and about contacting the Waterways Ombudsman can be sought from our Customer Service Centre, the head of customer service or from the Ombudsman herself:
The Waterways Ombudsman
PO Box 35
Tel: 01347 879075