This procedure sets out how we will respond to your concerns and complaints regarding our services.
The Council will not deal with anonymous complaints unless they raise serious issues about the conduct of an officer, member or the Council, such as criminal or unlawful behaviour.
It is important that your complaint is made promptly to ensure that it can be properly investigated and so that we can provide a remedy if appropriate.
We would expect a complaint to be made within 1 month unless there is a good reason for the delay.
How the Complaints Procedure works
We will first try to resolve your complaint informally.
If you are unhappy about the service you are receiving or have received, then the quickest way to let us know is by contacting the person you have been dealing with. If you have not been dealing with one specific person, then ask to speak to someone in the service area you are concerned with. You may be referred to a supervisor or manager if that person is unable to resolve the matter.
You are entitled to speak to a supervisor or line manager if you want to and can ask to do this at any time.
Stage 1 - Formal Complaint
If your complaint cannot be resolved informally, you may wish to make a formal complaint. You should only raise a formal complaint if you have already contacted the council about your concerns informally, but remain dissatisfied with the Council's response.
You should state who you have previously raised your complaint with, what response you have received, why you are dissatisfied and what resolution you are seeking.
We will acknowledge your complaint within five working days of receipt and will provide you with a full response within a further 15 working days. It is important to note that there are some occasions when a full response cannot be provided within this timeframe due to the complexity of the issues raised. We will keep you informed should an extended timeframe be anticipated.
There may also be occasions where we decide to respond to your concerns formally in any event, where it is clear that your complaint cannot be informally resolved. In such cases, the Council's response will make it clear that your matter is being dealt with as a formal complaint at Stage 1.
Stage 2 - Review
If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your formal complaint, you can request that it is reviewed by a senior manager.
A request for a review must be made in writing to Council Complaints. It should include;
- A clear statement of your complaint
- The name of the person or people you have been dealing with at Stage 1
- Clearly state why you are not satisfied with the response at Stage 1 and what you want to happen as a result of the review
- If your complaint is about a matter which is more than a month old, the reason you have not made the complaint earlier
- Your name
- Your address
- Your email address (If applicable)
- Whether you would prefer contact by post or email
You can make it in the following ways:
- If you have already complained in writing at Stage 1 you can ask the person dealing with it to pass it to Complaints
- You can use our formal complaints form, or email the details of your review request to email@example.com
- You can send it as a letter by post or deliver it by hand addressed to Complaints, Stafford Borough Council, Civic Centre, Riverside, Stafford ST16 3AQ
We will acknowledge your complaint within five working days of receipt and will provide you with a full response within a further 20 working days. It is important to note that there are some occasions when a full response cannot be provided within this timeframe due to the complexity of the issues raised. We will keep you informed should an extended timeframe be anticipated.
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
Our complaints procedure ends at Stage 2.
If you are not satisfied with our response, you can take things further by contacting the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman at www.lgo.org.uk.
The Ombudsman is totally independent of the Borough Council and has a legal duty to investigate complaints about local councils. The Ombudsman will only usually investigate a matter once the Council’s own complaints process has been exhausted.
Please note, complaints that a Councillor has breached the Code of Conduct for Members are dealt with under a different procedure that can be found under Part 5 of the Council’s Constitution at www.staffordbc.gov.uk/constitution.
Unreasonably Persistent and/or Vexatious Complaints and Unreasonable Behaviour
Handling such complaints can place strain on time and resources and can be stressful for staff dealing with these complex and challenging issues. In order to counter this, we will decide how to manage direct communication with the customer if matters are repeatedly raised or widely escalated.
We may decide to limit or cease further contact with customers if we consider they are behaving unreasonably by making persistent or vexatious complaints. We may also redirect email or other correspondence received to a single point of contact.
Unreasonable and unreasonably persistent complainants are those who, because of the nature or frequency of their contacts with an organisation, hinder the Organisation’s consideration of their, or other people’s, complaints.
The Council will not tolerate rude, offensive, abusive, threatening or intimidating behaviours towards its staff or Councillors and will act where appropriate to report such behaviours to the Police and may restrict or prohibit access to Council premises or staff where necessary to protect Council staff, Councillors or other people using Council premises.