Broxbourne Council aims to provide high quality services to its customers and wants them to be satisfied with those services. If the quality of service falls below the standard expected and complaints are received, the Council will review its performance and processes. It will respond to well-founded criticism with a willingness to listen, learn, and change if necessary.
What is a complaint?
We define a complaint as “an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the quality of Council services, actions or lack of actions by its staff or agents affecting an individual customer or group of customers.” Whenever a customer tells us that they are not satisfied with the standard of service received, what the Council has done, or what has not been done, it is regarded as a complaint.
However, this does not include disagreements with or challenges to decisions made by officers in areas such as planning, environmental health, licensing, parking, debt collection, housing benefit, council tax support and so on. Established, often statutory, processes are in place for appeals against such decisions and so they are not incorporated into the complaints procedure.
How do I complain?
Comments and complaints can be made in person, by email, in writing or by telephone. Comment cards are available from One Stop Shops and Council facilities.
There is a separate process for making a complaint that a councillor has breached the Code of Conduct. Information about this process is available from the Complaints about Councillors webpage.
If you do not have the email address of the relevant officer, please email your complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org
How will my complaint be dealt with?
In the first instance your complaint will be dealt with by a relevant Officer or Service Manager, who will thoroughly investigate the matter. If your complaint is fully or partially upheld, you will receive:
- an explanation of what happened and what the Council is proposing to do ensure that such situations do not arise again;
- an apology for any errors or omissions by the Council;
- where appropriate, the provision of a service to remedy the situation.
As well as providing a judgement on whether a complaint is upheld, partially upheld or not upheld, the officer will be required to form a judgement as to why you had a poor experience and what can be done to avoid such situation in the future. This could include:
- the provision of clearer information;
- training for members of staff or teams;
- alterations to policy or procedure;
- closer management supervision.
How long will it take?
We will respond to your complaint in writing within 10 working days. To avoid unnecessary correspondence, complaints will not be acknowledged if they can be answered within 10 working days. If we cannot deal with your complaint within this period, we will write to you and let you know when you can expect an answer from us and the name of the person who is dealing with your complaint. This may occur, for instance, if the complaint involves more than one service or is complex in nature.
What if I am not happy with the response?
If you are unhappy with our response to your complaint, you can ask for it to be reconsidered by the relevant Head of Service, who will respond to you within 10 working days of receiving your request.
If you are still not happy, you can ask for the matter to be referred to one of our Directors who is independent of the service area about which you are complaining. Again, you will receive a response within 10 working days.
If the matter has still not been resolved to your satisfaction, it can be referred to the Chief Executive for a final decision.
Ultimately, if you have been through all stages of our complaints procedure and you are still dissatisfied, you can refer your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, who provides a free, independent and impartial service. Contact details will be provided in the Chief Executive’s response to you, but more information can be found on the Ombudsman’s website at http://www.lgo.org.uk
At any stage you may refer your complaint to your local Councillor or Member of Parliament whose contact details can be found on our website. However, although they may help to resolve your complaint, the normal workings and timescales of this procedure will still apply.