A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about a council service that requires a response. We make no distinction between a ‘formal’ and an ‘informal’ complaint.
This policy covers general complaints to the council about its own services. It does not cover complaints that are covered by other rules, such as:
- Planning appeals.
- Benefits entitlement appeals.
- Council tax or business rates liability appeals.
- Complaints about councillor conduct.
- Reviews of decisions under the Freedom of Information Act and related legislation.
- Concerns about potential fraud or corruption.
In the event of a complaint against the Chief Executive, the organisation will decide if the complaint is investigated by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). The decision will be made by a Director and or the Monitoring officer independent of the complaint.
Why is this important?
We aim to provide good quality services. Unfortunately, things go wrong sometimes. It is really important for us to know when things do not go well, so that we can try to resolve any problems and learn from them
For this reason, we have a complaints process. We log complaints on our comments system and report regularly to councillors and managers on how we are doing.
How we try to resolve your complaint
Before making a complaint, call the council service direct as it may be possible to resolve the problem immediately without having to go through the complaints process. If this is not possible or you are unhappy with the response then the stages below outline our complaints process.
Stage 1 – Team Leader/ Manager
The Team Leader or Manager for the relevant service will receive your complaint. He or she will oversee the investigation and respond directly to you. He or she may need to contact you to clarify the details of your complaint. If this is done by telephone, he or she will follow this up with a letter or email. It is very important that we understand exactly what the complaint is before we investigate.
We aim to acknowledge you complaint in writing within 3 working days and provide an answer within 10 working days. Sometimes, a complicated complaint may take longer. We will keep you informed if this happens.
Stage 2 – Head of Service
If you are not satisfied with the Team Leader or Manager’s reply, you may contact the Head of Service, who will try to provide a full response within 15 working days.
You may wish to contact the Head of Service to make your first complaint, but he or she may decide to ask the appropriate Team Leader or Manager to respond directly to you.
Stage 3 – Ombudsman
If you are not satisfied with the Head of Service’s reply, you may contact the Local Government Ombudsman. This is the independent organisation that looks into complaints against councils.
How to complain
We are happy to receive your complaint in a variety of ways.
- My East Hampshire District Council Portal - The easiest way to submit your complaint is to set up a My East Hampshire District Council account and complete the form online.
- Telephone - If you know it, call the telephone number of the appropriate service, or call our general number 01730 266551, and ask to speak with the Operator who will then transfer you to the senior manager of that service.
- Letter - Address your letter to the “Team Leader or Manager”, naming the relevant service, or to “Complaints” at East Hampshire District Council, Penns Place, Petersfield, GU31 4EX.
- In person - Phone first to make an appointment if you wish to discuss your complaint with the appropriate Team Leader or Manager.
- Through your local councillor - They will forward your complaint to the relevant Team Leader or Manager.
Resolving the complaint
We aim to resolve 85% of all complaints within 10 working days. Sometimes, a complicated complaint may take longer and we will discuss a revised target date with you.
We regularly monitor this target to make sure complaints are resolved as quickly as possible.
We will work closely with you to get at the heart of the problem and do whatever we can to put things right. We will apologise if we have let you down and learn from our mistakes.
We will review this policy at least once every two years. We will also occasionally seek feedback from complainants about the process to make sure that you are being treated fairly and complaints are dealt with professionally.