On the 7th of April 2014, the Ombudswoman of the City of Ghent presented her Annual Report 2013. The report states on more than one occasion that the complaints about the collection procedure by Modero have dropped significantly now that the procedure has been fine-tuned.
- TRENDS 2013 – Collection by the judicial officer: turning point for complaints? (p. 8)
Complaints about collections usually concern the collection of parking tickets. A turning point was clearly reached in late 2013, after the implementation of the amicable collection letter by the judicial officer. The letter gives a clear overview of the amounts citizens should pay in order to avoid a writ of execution. It is a powerful tool, and we have seen a steady decline in complaints in 2014. These complaints make up the bulk of complaints with regard to the Mobiliteitsbedrijf. Should this adjustment, which we recommended, lead to a sustained decline in complaints, this is without a doubt an efficient adjustment benefiting citizens.
- FINANCE DEPARTMENT – Interesting signals (p. 39)
Notwithstanding the fact that there are a lot of disputes with regard to the collection of parking tickets by judicial officers, the number of second-line complaints about this Collection Department are particularly low: 2 complaints were received. Both complaints were unfounded.
For the collection of several other invoices, the Collection Department also works on the basis of a well-founded procedure and is always willing to thoroughly analyze discussions with regard to the collection, adjust its decision or motivate the reason for maintaining it where necessary.
In 2013, the collection procedure (parking tickets, library fines, etc.) for citizens was refined after it appeared that complaints by citizens persisted, particularly after the collection of parking tickets by judicial officers. The amicable collection letter clearly led to a decrease in the number of complaints since late 2013. The quick and motivated response by the Collection Department has made it possible to handle second-line complaints swiftly and to formulate a clear answer to the citizen.
- FOLLOW-UP OF COMPLAINTS – The most significant adjustments in 2013 and their effect (p. 87)
In 2013, one in three complaints was about ‘parking’, and more specifically about the collection of parking tickets through judicial officers. Similar, but fewer, complaints were received by other departments using the same collection procedure. Most complaints were unfounded and the tickets were justified. (…) At the end of 2013, the procedure was adjusted, and citizens now receive an amicable settlement from the judicial officer before proceeding to a writ of execution. There has been a spectacular decline in complaints ever since.
The ombudswoman is a confidential advisor for citizens who feel that their complaint has not been sufficiently handled by the services of the City of Ghent, the OCMW Gent, the Stadsontwikkelingsbedrijf Gent or Ivago. The ombudswoman independently reviews the case. Each year, the ombudswoman brings together her most important findings in an annual report.
Read the full Annual Report 2013 here (in Dutch).