General complaints

Before submitting a complaint

We want to resolve issues at the earliest opportunity, so please speak to a member of staff in the service concerned if there’s a problem. If the problem isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, you can use our complaints procedure.

Your details will remain confidential to the council employees who are carrying out the investigation. If the service is provided by another organisation for the council, details may be shared with them if it is necessary to deal with your complaint.

Please note, if your complaint is related to a service with its own appeal process, you need to use that process. All appeals are dealt with in line with the Regulators Code.

Complaints process

Our complaints procedure has 3 stages.

Stage 1

Once we receive your complaint, it will be sent to the head of the relevant service who will either deal with it themselves or appoint an officer in their team to deal with it.

We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint when we receive it and will let you know who is going to deal with it. We will then investigate your complaint.

We aim to resolve all complaints at the earliest opportunity. Complaints will be acknowledged within 3 working days and stage 1 responses provided within 10 working days. This may be extended to 20 working days for more complex complaints.

If your complaint is because you feel that you have been discriminated against, on whatever grounds, your complaint will go straight to the Chief Executive. It will also be sent to a senior manager in the service area involved.

Stage 2

If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint, you can refer it to stage 2 of the complaints procedure. In this instance your complaint will be sent to a director, who will decide who is most appropriate to deal with it. This may be:

  • the director themselves
  • a senior officer with responsibility for the service concerned
  • another appropriate officer

We will acknowledge receipt of your stage 2 complaint and will let you know who is going to deal with it. We will then investigate your complaint.

Stage 2 responses will be provided within 10 working days. This may be extended to 20 working days for more complex complaints.

Stage 3

If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint at stage 2, you can send it to the Chief Executive who will have it reviewed by someone different.

You must refer your complaint to the Chief Executive within 10 working days of the reply at stage 2. If we do not hear from you within 10 working days of our reply, we will close the complaint.

You will need to give reasons why you remain dissatisfied. You need to make particular reference to the response you have received. It is not normally acceptable just to repeat the complaint.

The Chief Executive will consider whether your complaint has already been dealt with properly. If so, they will write to let you know.

If they feel the complaint has not been dealt with properly, they will refer it back to the service manager or director to reconsider.

Alternatively, the Chief Executive may suggest a solution. If they are not able to resolve the matter at this point, they will:

  • personally investigate your complaint, or
  • appoint another senior officer who has not already been involved, to investigate

The senior officer will make recommendations to the Chief Executive as to whether your complaint should be upheld. If the complaint is upheld, they will suggest what remedial action, if any, the council should take. The Chief Executive will, following consideration of the senior officer's findings, make a final decision on your complaint.

Stage 3 responses will be provided within 10 working days. This may be extended to 20 working days for more complex complaints.

Make a complaint

To submit your complaint, please use our online form.

Make a complaint

If you need help completing the form, you can phone Customer Services on 01344 352000.

You can also give feedback in person to any member of council staff, who will help you fill in the form.

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau may also be able to help you.

If someone is completing the form for you, please make sure that you agree with what has been written down.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO)

If the complaint cannot be resolved by the council, you can contact the LGO. The Ombudsman will expect you to have given us a chance to look at your complaint before they will investigate. Please make sure you have followed our procedure before you contact the Ombudsman.

For more information, visit the LGO website or call 0300 061 0614.

You can view the annual summary of statistics on complaints made to the LGO on their website.

Mutual respect

You have the right to expect the best service from us and we will try to provide that service with respect and dignity.

In return we ask the same from you.

We reserve the right to ask anyone who abuses any member of our staff, verbally or physically to leave council premises. We may also terminate abusive phone calls.

We will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour such as:

  • violence
  • aggression
  • abuse
  • threats

To protect our employees, details of such behaviour may be recorded and shared across the council. We may also impose sanctions to stop you from entering any council premises.

In order to safeguard our employees, we will not hesitate to report incidents to the police. This action may result in prosecution.