We realise that, even in the best run organisations, there may be times when things go wrong and customers may not be happy with the service they receive.
If this happens then customers should let us know. We will do all we can to investigate and solve problems as quickly as possible. In the first instance, if possible, we will see if we can get things sorted informally and promptly.
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
- Treat people fairly
What is a complaint?
We think that a complaint is 'an expression of dissatisfaction about a Council service'.
A complaint could be for example in relation to:
- A delay in taking action without good reason
- A failure to provide a service
- A mistake in the way a decision has been taken
- Not following the law or the Council's own policies
- Giving incorrect or misleading information
- Bias or unfair discrimination
- Rude, unhelpful or inappropriate behaviour by staff
- Poor or inadequate communication
- The conduct of staff when delivering the service
A complaint can fall broadly into one of three categories:
- A complaint about a service
- A complaint about a member of staff
- A complaint about a policy
Certain types of issues and complaints fall outside of the complaints policy and procedure because there are other processes more suitable for dealing with them or because they are outside of the Council's control. These include:
Matters of law or central government policy.
Complaints from Council staff about employment related issues including appointments, dismissals, pay, pensions and discipline. These are dealt with separately under the Council's Human Resources policies and procedures.
Commercial or contractual matters, for example contracts for the supply of goods and services to the Council. Complaints about the negotiation of Council leases or the disposal of Council land may be dealt with through this policy and procedure.
Complaints where a customer or the Council has started legal proceedings but not where a customer has only threatened legal action.
Complaints that have already been decided by a Court or independent tribunal will not be accepted but complaints about the implementation of a Court or tribunal's decision will be investigated.
- Disagreement with a planning permission, enforcement decision or other consent under planning legislation.
Services for which there are alternative statutory, appeal, tribunal or other processes, including appeals against the refusal of planning permission or planning enforcement, a refusal to grant or renew a licence or appeals against statutory notices, parking charges and housing benefit.
A planning decision is binding and there is no right of appeal except by the recipient to the Planning Inspectorate. A third party may challenge a planning decision through judicial review. There is no scope for the Council's complaints process to set aside a planning permission, enforcement decision or other consent under planning legislation.
Where a customer is unhappy about the outcome of an appeal or tribunal decision there are separate review procedures that remain outside of this policy and procedure and the Council's jurisdiction. However, when a customer is unhappy about the way that an appeal was handled, for example a delay in preparing the Council's submission to the Housing Benefit Appeals Service this may be dealt with under the Council's complaint policy and procedure.
If in doubt, the complaint will be recorded and investigated. The complainant will be encouraged to clarify the full details of the complaint so that the issue can be properly assessed. If it is decided not to accept the complaint a customer should be given a clear explanation as to why and if possible an alternative approach should be given.
Where a complaint is about a single service failure, for example a missed refuse bag collection, it will be logged and dealt with promptly as a service request without having to go through the complaint procedure. However, if the complaint is that the refuse bags are being missed regularly then this may be dealt with according to the complaint procedure. In the same way if the complaint is a bout a noisy neighbour this will be passed to the Environmental Health Section to be dealt with as a service request.
A judgement will be made on a case by case basis as to whether to look into an anonymous complaint. Normally anonymous complaints will not be investigated. When an anonymous complaint is made it will obviously not be possible for a response to be provided to that customer.
How to complain
Customers can make a complaint in the most appropriate way. The Council encourages any customer who has a concern or suggestion about a particular service to make contact with us straight away, where the aim will be to resolve the issue promptly. Contact can be made:
- In person at: Town Hall, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7QF
- In writing a letter to: Eden District Council, Town Hall, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7QF
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: 01768 817 817
If the complaint is resolved at the first point of contact it will be recorded so the Council has greater awareness and understanding of customer issues.
To make a formal complaint:
Please read our complaints procedure before making a formal complaint. A formal complaint can be made in one of the following ways:
- complete the online formal complaints form
- print and complete the complaint form (PDF: 39 Kb / 2 pages)
- email email@example.com
- Write to: Deputy Chief Executive, Eden District Council, Town Hall, Penrith CA11 7QF
- Telephone: 01768 817 817
- Visit in person: the reception at the Town Hall, Penrith or the reception at the Mansion House, Penrith.
Assistance will be provided if customers need help in gaining access to any of these methods of contact.
Complainants may wish to have a third party act on their behalf. A third party is any person or organisation acting on behalf of or making enquiries for the complainant. For example, third parties may include:
- advice organisations
- professionals such as social workers, community psychiatric nurses, doctors or solicitors
- family members or friends
Where a third party is helping a complainant with a particular complaint, we need the complainant to tell us that they want contact to be through the third party. Where we have this authority we will take all possible steps to keep the third party informed of progress on the complaint.
A written or emailed complaint will be acknowledged within five working days. A complaint may not be accepted if it is believed to be vexatious, repetitious or is inappropriate in any other respect.
Complaints about Councillors
For information on making a complaint about a District Councillor or Parish Councillors for Eden District see standards of conduct in local government.