Making a complaint
By complaining you give us the opportunity to put things right and review the way we do things in future.
If you have feedback, please be aware you should normally contact us within 12 months of when you first knew about this issue. If you leave it any later, we may not be able to help.
We will do our best to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction by following our complaints procedure.
Our Feedback Team will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days and refer this to an Investigation Officer in the relevant service. They will investigate and resolve your complaint within eight weeks. If your complaint is lengthy or complex, we may need longer to investigate the issues. We will keep you updated with an expected response date.
If you are dissatisfied with the stage one response but feel we may still be able to resolve your complaint, we will progress your concerns to stage two. Our Feedback Team will acknowledge the escalation of your complaint within three working days and refer this to an officer in our Feedback Team. They will do a further independent investigation into your complaint within four weeks. Again, we may need longer to investigate if your complaint is lengthy or complex.
This review is the final stage of our internal complaint's procedure.
When responding to complaints we will include:
- an apology
- an explanation of what our investigation has found
- information on any actions taken or to be taken
If you remain unhappy with the outcome of our investigations, you can refer your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
Making a comment or suggestion
We encourage your suggestions and comments as these can help us improve our services and drive positive changes. These can be on any aspect of our services.
If requested, our Feedback Team will acknowledge receipt of your comment or suggestion within three working days and refer this to the appropriate service or staff member.
Making a compliment
We also want to know when our staff have exceeded your expectations.
What falls outside of our feedback procedure
We have a separate process for appeals against certain council decisions as these usually result from legal requirements as there is a separate route of appeal. For example:
- complaints against a councillor
- parking fines
- council tax banding
- housing benefits decisions
- homeless decisions or allocated accommodation
- planning decisions, listed building consents and conservation
- objections to undecided planning applications
We recognise feedback is an invaluable tool that helps us to measure the quality of service we are delivering. We aim to learn from all feedback we receive and use it positively to continuously improve our services.
We are keen to improve our feedback procedures for our customers. Sometimes, we may contact you following the closure of your complaint to see whether you would like to participate in completing our complaint survey. The survey assists us in reviewing our complaint procedure with an aim of making the process more user friendly and easier for our customers to voice their concerns.
If you are unhappy about the way we have dealt with a complaint about data protection or freedom of information, please contact the Office of the Information Commissioner.
In order to investigate and administer your feedback, it is necessary for us to collect and hold personal information about you. Please see our privacy pages for detailed information about why we need your data, what we do with it and how long we keep it for.
Unreasonable customer behaviour
We recognise that we may receive feedback from persons with widely varying ways of expressing themselves and who may possibly be angry, impatient, frustrated or extremely worried, depending on their situation and circumstances.
There are a small number of customers who, because of their behaviour and/or the frequency or nature of their contact with us, hinder our consideration of their complaint.
We refer to such behaviour as 'unreasonable' or persistent behaviour. In these circumstances we will consider invoking sanctions through our Preventing and Controlling Violence, Aggression and Other Unreasonable Customer Behaviour Policy.
Examples of the behaviours which may cause the policy to be invoked are:
- introducing irrelevant or trivial new information
- constantly changing the basis of the complaint
- submitting repeat complaints
- making unnecessarily excessive demands on the time and resources of staff
- adopting a 'scattergun' approach
- use of discriminatory and/or offensive language/views
Examples of options to deal with this may include:
- Requesting language used or volume of contact to be altered
- Using a single point of contact
- Temporarily restricting contact
Ombudsman complaint outcomes
Every year, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman produces its annual review report. This provides the number of complaints and enquiries they have received relating to each English local authority and the decisions they have made as a result.
The ombudsman publish all of their investigation decisions. Our complaint decisions over the past twelve months are broken down below.
24 August 2022 Complaint reference 22 007 036
We will not investigate this complaint about how the Council deals with planning applications. This is because the complaint does not meet the tests in our Assessment Code on how we decide which complaints to investigate. The complainant is complaining on behalf of a Parish Council and not as a member of the public.
24 August 2022 Complaint reference 22 001 489
Mr X complained about the Council’s failure to provide the pre-application planning advice he paid for, and that it was also late in responding to his complaint through its complaint’s procedure. We did not investigate the complaints further because we cannot provide the remedy Mr X wants or any other meaningful outcome.
We will not investigate Mr X's complaint about the Council's pre-application planning advice. This is because the complaint is late and I have seen no good reasons to exercise our discretion to investigate it.
22 June 2022 Complaint reference 22 007 096
We will not investigate this complaint about how the Council dealt with the complainant’s planning application. This is because the complainant can appeal to the Planning Inspector.
We will not investigate this complaint about the Council's handling of a planning application. This is because there is no evidence to suggest there was fault by the Council.
Ms X complains about the Council's handling of matters relating to the planning change of use of agricultural buildings on a site in her locale. We will not investigate the complaint because we are unlikely to find evidence of fault by the Council.
Mr X complains about lack of planning enforcement against a nearby development. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint because there is no evidence of fault by the Council and part of the complaint is out of time.
We will not investigate this complaint about the Council's response to planning issues raised by Ms X in connection with a property next door to hers. This is because we are unlikely to find evidence of fault sufficient to warrant an investigation.
Mrs X complained about the Council's decision to grant planning permission for development near her home. We found the Council at fault for not expressly addressing the impact of the development on her privacy. However, this fault was not likely to have affected the Council's planning decision and its apology suitably addressed the distress its omission had caused Mrs X.