Complaints procedure

Complaints procedure

The Council's complaints procedure

The Council has a three stage complaints process.

STAGE 1

Who do I complain to?

At this stage each service handles its own complaints - so you should make your complaint directly to the relevant service.

You can ask at main reception at Causeway House or at one of our Area Offices (Witham or Halstead) if you're in doubt as to which service is responsible, or you can contact our Customer Service Centre.

It helps to have your complaint in writing if it's a very serious or complex one. You can complete a complaint form online. We can also work with a verbal complaint if the subject matter is straightforward.

Can I complain through my Councillor?

Yes. The name(s) and contact details of your Councillor(s) are available online, from Causeway House, the Area Offices or via the Customer Service Centre.

Are there any matters that the Council can't investigate?

Yes, they are as follows:

  •   Complaints that are more than 12 months old
  • Matters were the customer has a separate right of appeal or review
  • such as:
    • A Town and Country planning appeal against refusal of planning permission
    • A complaint in relation to housing benefit for which there is a statutory appeals process
    • A complaint about Council Tax levels which must be challenged by way of judicial review
    • Traffic penalty tribunal (contesting parking tickets) 
    • Homelessness decisions 
    • Any other instance where an alternative appeal mechanism exists
  • Complaints regarding the conduct of members as they should be reported to the Council's Monitoring Officer.
  • Matters that are, or have been the subject of court proceedings.

How long before I get a response?

We aim for 7 working days from the time we hear from you or your Councillor. If your complaint is very serious or complex, the process may take longer. If that's the case, we'll keep you informed on progress.

Most complaints are sorted out quickly and amicably at this stage by the service concerned, but not all. So you can get a second opinion if you want one.

STAGE 2

This involves a review of the case by the relevant Director.

What will the Director do?

Examine all the information, and clarify any areas that are unclear. Look at relevant Council policies and procedures.

How long before I get a response?

A full response should be provided within 13 working days - we'll keep you informed if there's any delay.

STAGE 3

Review by the Chief Executive of the Council.

What will happen?

This will involve a review of the complaint under the previous stages. The complaint will also be discussed with the appropriate Cabinet Member.

How long before I get a response?

A full response should be provided within 20 working days and if the complaint takes longer to investigate, the customer must be kept informed of the progress.

Stage 3 is the final part of our Complaints Procedure.

If you're still not satisfied you can ask the Local Ombudsman to investigate your complaint.

The Local Government Ombudsman is an independent person who investigates allegations of maladministration causing injustice to the person who has complained. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about most council matters including housing, planning and council tax.