What is a complaint?

We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services. 

If something goes wrong or you are dissatisfied with our services, please tell us.  This section of the website describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you about how we will handle your complaint and what you can expect from us. 

What is a complaint? 

We regard a complaint as 'An expression of dissatisfaction by one or more members of the public about the Council’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the Council.’ 

What can I complain about? 

You can complain about things like: 

  • failure or refusal to provide a service. 
  • inadequate quality or standard of service, or an unreasonable delay in providing a service. 
  • dissatisfaction with one of our policies or its impact on the individual 
  • failure to properly apply law, procedure or guidance when delivering services. 
  • failure to follow the appropriate administrative process. 
  • conduct, treatment by or attitude of a member of staff or contractor (except where there are arrangements in place for the contractor to handle the complaint themselves) 
  • a concern about the actions or service of an organisation who is delivering services on our behalf.  
  • disagreement with a decision, (except where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision, or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector 
  • dissatisfaction with how an element of a planning decision was administrated.  

Your complaint may involve more than one of the council services or be about someone working on our behalf.   

What can’t I complain about? 

There are some things we can’t deal with through our complaints handling procedure.  These include: 

  • a routine first-time request for a service   
  • a first-time report of a fault 
  • a request for compensation only 
  • issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or a tribunal (if you decide to take legal action, you should let us know as the complaint cannot then be considered under this process) 
  • disagreement with a decision where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision (such as for freedom of information and subject access requests), or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector – such as planning, or a parking ticket appeal. 
  • a request for information under the Data Protection or Freedom of Information a request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 
  • a grievance by a staff member or a grievance relating to employment or staff recruitment.  
  • a concern raised internally by a member of staff (which was not about a service they received, such as a whistleblowing concern) 
  • a concern about a child or an adult’s safety 
  • an attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision. 
  • abuse or unsubstantiated allegations about our organisation or staff where such actions would be covered by our [Unacceptable Actions Policy or equivalent] 
  • a concern about the actions or service of a different organisation, where we are not involved in the issue (except where the other organisation is delivering services on our behalf); or  
  • challenges to decisions made via formal decision-making channels i.e., a customer is dissatisfied with a planning or pension decision but not with any element of the process that led to the decision.  

If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you. 

Who can complain? 

Anyone who receives, requests or is directly affected by our services, or a service contracted or commissioned by us, can make a complaint to us. This includes the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service (for example, a relative, friend, advocate, or adviser). If you are making a complaint on someone else’s behalf, you will normally need their written consent. Please also read the section on ‘Getting help to make your complaint’ below. 

It is easier for us to address complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. So please talk to a member of our staff at the service you are complaining about. Then they can try to resolve the issue. 

When complaining, please tell us: 

  • your full name and contact details;
  • as much as you can about the complaint; 
  • what has gone wrong; and 
  • what outcome you are seeking. 

How long do I have to make a complaint? 

Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of: 

  • the event you want to complain about; or 
  • finding out that you have a reason to complain. 

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.