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Complaints

We realise that, even in the best run organisations, there may be times when things go wrong. Customers may not always be happy with the service they receive. If this happens, 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 we deal with a complaint and by whom.
  • Respect confidentiality.
  • Be impartial.
  • Make recommendations to avoid future complaints.
  • Treat people fairly.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is 'an expression of dissatisfaction about one of our services'.

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 we have taken a decision.
  • Not following the law or our 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.

Exceptions

Certain types of issues and complaints fall outside of the complaints policy and procedure. This is because there are other processes more suitable for dealing with them. It may be because they are outside of our control. These include:

  • Disagreement with a planning permission, enforcement decision, or other consent, under planning legislation.
  • We will not accept complaints already decided by a Court or independent tribunal. We will investigate complaints about the implementation of a Court or tribunal's decision.
  • Complaints where a customer, or we, have started legal proceedings. This does not include a customer who has only threatened legal action.
  • Commercial or contractual matters, for example, contracts for the supply of goods and services to us. We may deal with complaints about the negotiation of our leases or the disposal of our land through this policy and procedure.
  • Complaints from our staff about employment-related issues. These include appointments, dismissals, pay, pensions and discipline. We deal with these separately under our Human Resources policies and procedures.
  • Matters of law or central government policy.
  • Services for which there are alternative statutory, appeal, tribunal or other processes. These include appeals against:
    • The refusal of planning permission,
    • The refusal of planning enforcement,
    • Refusal to grant or renew a licence, or
    • Appeals against statutory notices, parking charges and housing benefit.
  • A planning decision is binding. 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 our 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/tribunal decision, there are separate review procedures. These remain outside of this policy and procedure and our jurisdiction. Where a customer is unhappy about the way we handle an appeal, we may deal with this under our complaints policy and procedure. An example could be a delay in preparing our submission to the Housing Benefit Appeals Service.

If in doubt, we will record and investigate the complaint. We will encourage the complainant to clarify the full details of the complaint. This is so that we can properly address the issue. If we decide not to accept the complaint, we will give a clear explanation as to why. If possible, we will offer an alternative approach.

We will log a complaint about a single service failure, for example, a missed refuse bag collection. We will deal with it promptly as a service request. This is without having to go through the complaints procedure. We will deal with a complaint about regularly missed refuse bags in accordance to the complaints procedure. If the complaint is about a noisy neighbour, we will pass this to our Environmental Health Section. They will deal with this as a service request.

Anonymous complaints

We will make a judgement on a case-by-case basis as to whether to look into an anonymous complaint. Normally, we will not investigate anonymous complaints. If we receive an anonymous complaint, it will not be possible for us to provide a response to that customer.

How to complain

Customers can make a complaint in the most appropriate way. Customers who have a concern or suggestion about a particular service should make contact with us straight away. We will aim to resolve the issue promptly. You can make contact in the following ways:

  • In person at: Town Hall, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7QF
  • In writing a letter to: Eden District Council, Town Hall, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7QF
  • Email to: customer.services@eden.gov.uk
  • Telephone: 01768 817 817

If the complaint is resolved at the first point of contact, we will record it. This is so that we have greater awareness and understanding of customer issues.

To make a formal complaint:

Read our complaints procedure before making a formal complaint. You can make a formal complaint in one of the following ways:

We will provide assistance 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.

We will acknowledge a written or emailed complaint within five working days. We may not accepted a complaint if it is believed to be vexatious, repetitious, or is inappropriate in any other respect.

Complaints about Councillors

See standards of conduct in local government for information on making a complaint about a District Councillor, or Parish Councillor for Eden District.

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