Our complaints procedure aims to:
- Be easily available, well-publicised and simple to use
- Show clearly how a complaint will be dealt with and by whom
- Respect confidentiality
- Be impartial
- Make recommendations to avoid future complaints
If you wish to complain about another organisation you should deal directly with the appropriate organisation. We will advise you if we think that your complaint should be redirected and help to put you in touch with the right department or person.
Anyone who wishes to make a complaint may do so:
A written complaint will be acknowledged within five working days. The letter of acknowledgement will state when a full response can be expected to the complaint, if appropriate. A complaint may not be accepted if it is vexatious, frivolous, repetitious or is inappropriate in any other respect.
There are three stages to the complaints procedure. The stages are.
Stage 1 Informal
Where possible complaints will be dealt with quickly and informally. It is hoped that the vast majority of complaints can be resolved at this stage. An informal complaint can be made in person, by telephone or in writing. A person who wishes to make a complaint should explain clearly what he or she is dissatisfied about and what he or she would wish the Council to do.
A complaint in person may be made to the member of staff concerned or at the receptions in either the Town Hall, Penrith or the Mansion House, Penrith. The general telephone number for the Council is 01768 817817. If appropriate, you will be transferred to the relevant officer.
A response to a complaint at an informal stage will be made as soon as possible and in any event within ten working days. An informal complaint will not be formally recorded under the procedure.
Stage 2 Formal
If you are dissatisfied with the response to your initial complaint you can request that your complaint should be dealt with formally. A formal complaint should be made in writing. The complaint should state what you want the Council to do to resolve the matter. You may use the complaints form attached to this procedure if you wish. A formal complaint will be recorded and acknowledged by the Director of Corporate and Legal Services.
The Director of Corporate and Legal Services upon receiving a formal complaint will write to the relevant department and request that an Investigating Officer be appointed to consider the complaint.
An investigation may involve interviews with relevant staff and any appropriate witnesses. The Investigating Officer may speak to you to clarify matters and to seek to resolve the complaint. The Investigating Officer will provide a written response to your complaint. The response will set out the Investigating Officer's findings, any recommendations, any proposals and whether the complaint has been resolved. Where appropriate an apology will be given and it may be that a decision will be reviewed or any relevant procedure or practice revised. The response to your formal complaint will deal with all issues which you have raised and set out what the Council proposes to do. A written response from the Investigating Officer will be provided in 20 working days. If this period is exceeded you will be informed why this is the case.
Stage 3 Review Hearing
If after having received the report of the Investigating Officer you remain dissatisfied you can request that the complaint is reviewed by a panel of up to three Councillors drawn from the Human Resources and Appeals Committee. The request should be made in writing to the Director of Corporate and Legal Services, Town Hall, Penrith. The request should set the reasons why you want a review. A request for a review should be made within twenty working days of the receipt of the response from the Investigating Officer.
A review hearing will be arranged as soon as practicable and within twenty working days of the receipt of your written request. A formal procedure will be adopted although the atmosphere of the meeting itself should remain informal. You may attend in person or make your representations in writing. You will be able to say why you are dissatisfied and explain the nature of your complaint. You can bring a friend with you if you like. You should not instruct anyone to put the case on your behalf unless English is not your first language or you have a disability which would place you at a disadvantage. The Panel may, at its discretion, allow you to be represented if there are particular circumstances which make this necessary. If you wish representation make this known when you request a review hearing and explain your reasons.
The procedure for the review hearing will be as follows:
Procedure at Review Hearing:
The Panel may be assisted by an officer who will act as the clerk and advise on procedure and the law. The clerk will not have been involved in the complaint at any previous stage.
- You will be invited into the room at the same time as the Investigating Officer.
- The Chairman will explain the procedure to all present.
- The Investigating Officer will be invited to speak first and will present all the information which he/she believes is relevant to your complaint.
- When he/she has finished speaking you will be able to ask him/her questions.
- The Councillors may ask questions.
- You will then have the opportunity to explain your position and add any information that you think is relevant. You should ensure that you say everything you want about your complaint.
- When you have finished the Investigating Officer and the Councillors may ask you questions.
- The Investigating Officer will have an opportunity to sum up what he/she has said.
- You will have the final say and will be able to sum up your complaint.
- You and the Investigating Officer may be asked to leave the room whilst the Panel decides the matter.
- When the Panel has made its decision, you and the Investigating Officer will be invited back and be informed of the decision.
- You will be informed if your complaint is upheld and of any remedy or recommendations the Panel has decided in writing within five working days.
If you do not wish to attend a review hearing you may ask for the complaint to be considered on the basis of written representations. In this case the Investigating Officer will be asked to make written comments too. The Panel will decide the review by taking all the written material it has received into account. The Panel may seek to clarify some points. You will be notified of the decision in writing within five working days of the meeting.