Corporate complaints procedure
If possible, we will deal with complaints informally before they reach the stage of a formal complaint. We recognise that some customers will insist that they wish to go through the Corporate Complaints Procedure. For some types of complaint, this may be the most appropriate procedure. We have a two-stage procedure designed to support the effective management of complaints.
When we cannot provide a customer with a full response within the timescales quoted, we will notify the customer as soon as possible. We will give a revised timescale as to when they can expect a full response to their complaint.
Complaints go through each stage in turn. We will escalate complaints to the next stage if the customer believes that the response is:
- Wrong in some respect.
Complaints about decisions made by Councillors
Complaints may be about a decision made by the Council, a Committee, or the Executive. There may be a formal appeal process to another body about the merits of the decision. You may make a formal complaint about a decision of the Council, a Committee, or the Executive, under this procedure and policy, providing it does not relate to the merits of the decision if there is another appeal process. It may relate, for example, to the procedure or process adopted. Stage 2 considers a complaint about a decision of the Council, a Committee, or the Executive. The Panel of Councillors who consider the complaint, if possible, should not have previous involvement in the subject matter of the complaint.
Stage one complaints
We will refer Stage One formal complaints to the Director who has responsibility for the relevant service. The Director may allocate the investigation of the complaint to a service manager within his/her service. The Director has overall responsibility for the consideration of the complaint.
The investigating officer may need to clarify with the customer the circumstances of the complaint, or seek to resolve the complaint.
The expected amount of time given for responding to a Stage One complaint in full is ten working days. The customer receives an acknowledgement of the receipt of the complaint from the Office of the Assistant Director Governance within three working days.
If a complaint is complicated and likely to take longer to resolve, the investigating officer will set a reasonable and appropriate revised timescale. The investigating officer will keep the customer informed of this and of its progress.
An investigation may involve interviews with relevant staff and appropriate witnesses.
The investigating officer will produce a written response to the complaint. The response will set out:
- The investigating officer's findings;
- Any recommendations;
- Any proposals;
- Whether or not the complaint has been resolved.
We will apologise, where appropriate. We may review a previous decision and revise any relevant procedure or practice.
Stage two complaints
If after receipt of the response to the formal complaint the customer is still dissatisfied because:
- They believe the response at Stage One is considered to be unclear;
they can request that a Panel of up to three Councillors drawn from the Human Resources and Appeals Committee review the complaint. You should make your request in writing to the Assistant Director Governance, Town Hall, Penrith CA11 7QF. This should be within ten working days of the response to the Stage One complaint. The request should set out the reasons why you consider a review necessary. The request should set out why the customer is dissatisfied with the response given at Stage One. The Office of the Assistant Director Governance will acknowledge the request within three working days. A review hearing will be arranged as soon as practicable and within twenty working days of the request whenever possible.
We will adopt a formal procedure at the hearing. The process and atmosphere of the meeting itself should be informal. The customer may attend in person or give their comments and concerns in writing. We will invite the customer to explain why he or she is dissatisfied and to explain the nature of the complaint.
Normally, we would not expect a customer to have someone to represent him or her. A representative may be appropriate if:
- The person's first language is not English
- He or she has a disability which would place him or her at a disadvantage.
When requesting the hearing, the customer should mention if they think they should have representation.
The Panel of Councillors will notify the customer of their decision in writing within five working days of the hearing. Where appropriate, we will give an apology. It may be that we will review a previous decision and any relevant procedure or practice revised.
Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) complaints
Although a customer can take a complaint to the LGO at any stage, we expect customers to give us the opportunity to investigate the complaint in the first instance. If the LGO does become involved, the Assistant Director Governance makes initial contact with us. When we receive a complaint from the LGO, we refer the case to the relevant Director to ensure appropriate action and response. We must submit a response to the LGO within the time specified by the LGO.
The contact details for the Ombudsman for Cumbria are:
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
PO Box 4771
- Telephone: 0300 061 0614
- Fax: 024 7682 0001
- Text: 'call back' to 0762 480 4299
View the Government Ombudsman website to find out further information about the Ombudsman service.
Complaints about the conduct of Councillors
We will deal with a complaint about the conduct of a Member of Eden District Council (or a Parish Council) under the arrangements for dealing with standards allegations. This is under the Localism Act 2011.
You must submit the complaint either in writing, using the on-line form, a letter, or email to the Assistant Director Governance, who is the Monitoring Officer.
The Monitoring Officer will review every complaint received where a Member has alleged to have breached the Code of Conduct. After consultation with the Independent Person and assessment panel, the Monitoring Officer will take a decision on what action to take.
Complaints made by other Council officers
Officers working for the Council, at some time, may need to make a complaint as a customer of the Council. Officers making a formal complaint still need to comply with this policy.
Officers handling staff complaints need to deal with the complaint like any other complaint received from members of the public by following this policy.
Staff should ensure:
- Letters are sent to the staff member's home address;
- Email contact is to their private email address;
- Meetings are arranged in a proper manner;
- Complaint updates do not take place, in passing, in the corridor;
- Progress chasing should be made using the proper channels and not by using access to databases.
Complaints about the Chief Executive
The Assistant Director Governance will investigate any request about the Chief Executive. This is in consultation with the Leader of the Council.
The Assistant Director Governance will monitor performance by departments on an ongoing basis. The Assistant Director Governance will report to Management Team and Councillors as required.
How to make a complaint
Anyone who wishes to make a complaint may do so:
- Online: complete the formal complaints form. Please do not use the Character Count on this form as you may lose content.
- Download: and complete our Complaint form (PDF: 39 Kb / 2 pages)
- In person at: Town Hall, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7QF
- By writing to: Assistant Director Governance, Eden District Council, Town Hall, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7QF
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: 01768 817 817