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
The procedure for making complaints is set out below.
If you are unable to deal with the complaint yourself, for whatever reason, you can ask someone else to deal with it on your behalf. This can be anyone other than an officer of the Council. It may be a family member, a friend, your local councillor, your MP or anyone else you trust to deal with the matter for you. We will need your written permission to deal with that other person and we will continue to deal with that person until you withdraw that permission.
Stage 1 – Informal Complaint
We will first try to resolve with 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.
Alternatively you can email email@example.com or call 01785 619000
We will try to resolve the issue for you without the need for a formal complaint.
Stage 2 – Formal Complaint
A formal complaint may be made if you are not satisfied that we have resolved it at the informal stage. If so, you should make it clear that you want your complaint to be dealt with as a formal complaint.
A formal complaint 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 the informal stage
- What you would like us to do to remedy your complaint
- 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 the informal stage you can ask the person dealing with it to pass it to Complaints
- You can email the details of your formal complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can send it as a letter by post or deliver it by hand addressed to
Stafford Borough Council
This will ensure that your complaint is recognised as a formal complaint and dealt with appropriately.
Your complaint will be acknowledged within 5 working days of its receipt and we will provide you with the name and contact details of the person dealing with your complaint. Your complaint will be handled by the appropriate Head of Service or another senior manager.
We will aim to send you a full response within 15 working days of receipt of your complaint. If we are unable to give you a full response within 15 working days, we will contact you and explain why.
Stage 3 – Review of Formal Complaint
If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint at stage 2, you can ask for a review within 1 month of receipt of our response to your formal complaint. If you request a review it will be referred to the Chief Executive. If the Chief Executive is unable to deal with the review, due to absence or any other reason, the review will be referred to a member of the Council’s Leadership Team who has had no previous involvement in your complaint.
The request for a review should be sent to Complaints by any of the methods outlined above. It should clearly state why you are not satisfied with the response at Stage 2 and what you want to happen as a result of the review.
Your request will be acknowledged within 5 working days.
The purpose of the review is to consider whether the response you have received to the formal complaint and any remedy offered was reasonable. Only in exceptional circumstances will the review include a further investigation.
A full response will be sent to within 20 working days of receipt of your request for a review. If we are unable to give you a full response within 20 working days, we will contact you and explain why and give you an anticipated date when you will receive a response.
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
Our complaints procedure ends at Step 3. However, 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 that 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.