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We issue a Special Report after Brecon Beacons National Park Authority fails to comply with the office’s recommendations.

We can issue a Special Report if public bodies refuse to comply with the recommendations in any report published by the office or do not comply as agreed. We decided to issue a Special Report on this case, given that Brecon Beacons National Park Authority has failed to comply with the recommendations issued, and agreed to, over 3 years ago.

In 2019, we considered a complaint by Mr N about Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. Mr N originally complained to the Authority in 2015 in relation to water from the Authority’s land affecting an unmade track leading to his property. The Authority issued its decision on this complaint some 3 years later. Mr N then complained to us about the delay in his complaint being resolved. He also complained that the Authority did not implement the recommendations for action identified in its own investigation of his complaint – namely, to resurface the track and move or replace a cattle grid as well as fencing on common land (which required the consent of the Welsh Government).

We upheld Mr N’s complaint in September 2019 and issued recommendations for the actions to be taken, which the Authority agreed to implement.

However, in 2021 Mr N complained to us again that the Authority had not implemented these recommendations. We settled that complaint in February 2022, with the Authority agreeing to complete the work on the track and cattle grid by the end of March 2022, and to complete the fencing within 3 months of it receiving consent from Welsh Government which was required for the work.  However, by the end of October 2022 that work had not been completed, and the application to the Welsh Government had “timed out” and needed to be re-submitted.

Commenting on the report, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Michelle Morris, said:

 We issue very few Special Reports – the last one was in 2020. This is because in the vast majority of cases public bodies agree with our recommendations and comply as agreed.

 “However, in this case the situation has been allowed to drift for far too long. Mr N has been waiting for action to be taken to resolve his complaint for over 7 years, and it is over 3 years since the National Park Authority has first agreed the recommendations in our report.”

 It is simply not right for a public body to fail to take prompt and effective actions to ensure that agreed recommendations are implemented – and to fail to live up to its promises to the complainants and to my office.”

We recommended that the National Park Authority issues a written apology to Mr N from the Chief Executive and pays him £1000 in recognition of his time and trouble. In addition, we recommended that the Authority should:

  1. complete the works on the track and the cattle grid as a matter of urgency.
  2. do everything within its power to progress the application to the Welsh Government for consent to manage the fencing on common land.
  3. formally report our report to the next meeting of its Audit and Governance Committee, and when the work has been completed, provide appropriate documentary/photographic evidence to us.
  4. within 4 months, undertake a review of how it handled Mr N’s complaint and its subsequent actions to identify lessons to be learned.

Whilst we are pleased that Brecon Beacons National Park Authority has agreed to implement our recommendations, it is very disappointing that further maladministration has occurred resulting in our office’s limited resources being spent pursuing this matter further when the work should have been completed some time ago.  We expect the members of the Authority’s Audit and Governance Committee to now oversee progress against the recommendations and the report has been shared with the Minister for Climate Change whose responsibility includes National Parks and with the Auditor General for Wales.

To read the report, click here.