Leeds Council has been criticized for its ‘flawed’ response to car dealer neighbors dispute

The council, investigating a complaint from a neighbor of the house, ruled out the use of CCTV footage as evidence after citing privacy concerns.

It then halted its investigation, saying it was “unlikely to lead to a successful outcome.”

Now the local government ombudsman has upheld a complaint from the neighbor who made the original claims.

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The local government ombudsman has upheld a complaint against the council

In a report, the Ombudsman reported how the complainant, whom he identified as ‘Mr X’, alleged that his neighbor was ‘selling or renting vehicles from his house without planning permission.

“Mr X said the vehicles were parked in a car park in the front yard of the house and on the street.

“Mr X complained about the noise and disturbance and the impact on on-street parking.”

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According to the report, the council duly served a writ of execution on the neighbor, demanding that he stop using the property “to store vehicles for hire or sale.”

A complaint against the decision of the neighbor was rejected.

The authority later requested CCTV footage Mr X had of cameras pointed at his neighbour’s house.

However, after review and consultation with a lawyer, the agency said the footage was of “very little probative value” and “cannot be used for privacy reasons.”

The report added: “The council said that since the neighbor kept these vehicles partly as a hobby, they could not say that the vehicles stored on the premises were kept solely for business purposes.”

“The Council said that while the writ of enforcement was still enforceable, it had discontinued its enforcement investigation as it was unlikely to produce a successful outcome.”

In his decision, the Ombudsman said the Council was entitled to judge that CCTV did not offer clear evidence of car sales.

However, on data protection, it added: “I find the second justification given by the Council in its reply to my question to be flawed.

“I find fault with his explanation and application of data protection law to CCTV evidence.”

Although the report states that the error did not affect the outcome of the case, the council was asked to review its policies on personal data and video surveillance and “ensure they are appropriate and in line with data protection law”.

In response, a Leeds City Council spokesman said: “We accept and understand the findings of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in this case and are reviewing our policies and processes to make changes where necessary and appropriate.”

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