Council’s complaints procedure
We welcome and value your feedback so that we can improve the services we provide to you. Our compliments, suggestions and complaints procedure makes sure you have the opportunity to tell us what you think about the services we provide.
If you are dissatisfied with a service of if you have failed to receive a service please let us know. In the majority of cases the member of staff who receives your concern should be able to resolve it straight away or pass it onto someone who can. Every attempt will be made to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible.
You can complain online, in person, by telephone, by letter or by completing one of our ‘help us to get it right’ feedback forms.
Scope of our process
Some service areas have their own procedures for complaining which are not governed by the council. If you wish to complain about any of the areas below let us know and we will give you the appropriate contact details:
- school or school curriculum
- social services
- planning application decisions
- eligibility for housing
- the amount of housing benefit granted
- your liability to pay council tax or the amount of council tax you are liable to pay
- employment matters
- parking tickets (penalty charge notices).
What you can expect
Once we have received your complaint we will write to you to acknowledge it and to let you know when you can expect a response. We will send a further letter with the name of the officer or manager who will be investigating your complaint, if this is not known when we send the acknowledgement. This is the case at both stage 1 and stage 2 of the procedure.
If your complaint is being dealt with at stage 1 of the procedure, you can expect to receive a full response within 10 working days. If we think it will take longer than this, we will write to you with an explanation and a revised date. Once we have made a decision about your complaint we will write to you and let you know. If your complaint has been upheld we will say sorry and let you know what have done to put right what went wrong. We will also tell you what we have done to prevent the same issue happening again.
If you remain dissatisfied you can ask for your complaint to be escalated to stage 2 of the procedure. This request should usually be received within 20 working days following the stage 1 decision letter. Please include the reasons why you are dissatisfied with the response at stage 1 and what you would like us to do to resolve your complaint.
At this stage of the complaints procedure an investigation into your complaint will be undertaken by a senior member of staff who does not have line management responsibility for the service complained about. A report will be produced which will include full details of the investigation along with a decision, suggested remedies and any service changes, which may have been identified as a result. The report will be sent to you with a covering letter summarising its findings. If at this point you remain dissatisfied you can ask for your complaint to be escalated to stage 3 of the procedure or you can complain directly to the local government ombudsman. If you wish to progress to stage 3 this request should usually be received by the council within 20 working days from the date of the stage 2 response letter. Please include the reasons why you are dissatisfied with the stage 2 investigation and what you would like us to do to resolve your complaint.
Stage 3 – optional members panel
If you decide you would like your complaint to be escalated to stage 3 a panel of three members (councillors) will be convened within 30 working days of receipt of your request. The members will speak to both you and the stage 2 investigating officer during the panel hearing to establish the best course of action.
Local government ombudsman
If following either stage 2 or stage 3 of the complaints procedure you remain dissatisfied with the council’s response, you can complain directly to the local government ombudsman. The ombudsman investigates complaints where it is believed that the council has done something wrong or failed to do something it should have done. The ombudsman can be contacted by using the details on their website.
Monitoring our performance
After your complaint has been investigated we will send you a questionnaire to ask if you were satisfied with the complaints handling process. The purpose of this survey is to find out what you think about the way your complaint was dealt with so that we can monitor satisfaction and make improvements.
Anonymous complaints will be looked into but due to their anonymous nature it is not possible to follow all stages of the procedure or provide a response.
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