A WOMAN was mortified after complaining about the height of her neighbour’s hedge – and the council sent them her letter by mistake.
The homeowner has been paid £400 for the major blunder and “avoidable stress” she suffered as a result.
The woman, known only as Mrs X, first wrote to her local authority about the high green bush next to her property in August 2019.
She alleged it was “adversely affecting her enjoyment of her home” as it blocked light to her windows and garden.
Four weeks later, Surrey’s Guildford Borough Council decided her concerns were not valid and returned the complaints form.
However, they accidentally sent it to the Mrs X’s neighbour, blaming a “data entry error”, SurreyLive reports.
She chased officials for a response in November, but it wasn’t until May 2020 that she was told to submit a new objection.
And it took a further nine months and £600 until she discovered her paperwork had been delivered to the wrong person.
Mrs X complained to the council’s managing director and the ombudsman, but the Information Commissioner’s Office concluded no further action was needed, and blamed delays on the pandemic.
But finally, in May 2021, the council offered to refund the woman a third of the £600 she had paid to file her complaint, and a further £200 “in recognition of the avoidable time and trouble she spent in chasing the council”.
She was also eventually repaid the £600 high hedge complaint fee, as advised by the ombudsman.
Councillor Tom Hunt has since apologised for the authority’s failures but insisted it takes all complaints “very seriously”.
He added: “We are sorry and could have done better.
“We have apologised to Mrs X and put further measures in place to avoid this happening again.”
A spokesperson for Guildford Borough Council said: “We are setting target timescales for investigations like this.
“We are also reviewing the process and creating template documents to make the administration and report writing faster.
“To remove the chance of data entry issues in future we are creating an online rather than paper application form.”
Source: The Sun