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Compliments, suggestions and complaints policy

Have your say - we would like to hear your views about our services.


Compliments, suggestions and complaints

Uttlesford District Council aims to provide you with a high-quality service and welcomes all feedback about the services that we provide and how they could be improved.

If you have a suggestion or complaint, please let us know. We will do our best to put the matter right and make sure we improve the service we provide. We would also like to know if you are pleased with the service provided. We can inform our staff and use the information to further improve our services.


You may want to congratulate us or an individual officer for a job well done or a service provided. We will share your views with those involved and encourage others to follow similar ways of working. Compliments are regularly reviewed by the Corporate Management Team and are shared through staff briefings.


You may have an idea for improving our services. If you do, we would like to hear about it. We will acknowledge your suggestions and let you know how we will use them or explain why we are unable to.


We realise there may be times when things go wrong and you may not be satisfied with the service you receive. The council expects the highest standards of conduct and integrity from all those who work for it, whether directly employed or as contractors. We will investigate any allegations that these standards have been breached. We take all complaints seriously and we are keen to resolve your problem. Anonymised complaints information is regularly reviewed by the Corporate Management Team in order to identify and address any arising trends. The Governance, Audit and Performance Committee receives an annual report on complaints, including any escalated to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

It is important to provide as much information as possible so we can deal with your complaint promptly. This may include:

  • The location/site of the subject of your complaint
  • Relevant dates
  • Names of any council staff involved
  • Where our service failed to meet your expectations
  • What you would like us to do to put things right

How we handle complaints

If you have a complaint, you should:

1.       Talk to the relevant service informally first

Staff in service areas are best placed to understand the nature of your complaint, and are better informed to resolve it for you. In the first instance you should therefore try to resolve the matter informally by talking to the member of staff you were dealing with on the query. If this does not resolve the issue, ask for the name of their manager and contact them with your complaint.

2.       Make a complaint (Stage 1)

  • Complaints may be made by email, letter or through the online form and will be passed to the manager responsible for the service.
  • The department will investigate and normally you will receive a response to your complaint within 10 working days. Please note that complex complaints may take longer to investigate. Should this be the case, we will keep you informed of the likely timescale to resolving your complaint.
  • If you ask us to deal with an issue that does not fall within our complaints procedure, we will let you know what other options may be available to you.
  • We will also let you know about Stage 2 of the procedure if you are not happy with the response.

3.        Ask for a review of your complaint (Stage 2)

  • Once the manager has responded, if you are unhappy with the way your complaint has been dealt with you can write to the relevant Director. This is Stage 2 of our process. Your complaint will be investigated further and again we will aim to respond within 10 working days.
  • If the complaint relates directly to the conduct of a Director the review will be carried out by their Strategic Director or the Chief Executive.
  • For complaints which relate to the conduct of a Strategic Director these will be reviewed by the other Strategic Director or the Chief Executive.
  • Complaints relating to the Chief Executive will be reviewed by the Leader of the Council.
  • In the correspondence you should let us know why you were not satisfied with either the way we handled your complaint at Stage 1 or the response we gave you.
  • The Stage 2 Investigating Officer will investigate your complaint further and again aim to respond within 10 working days.
  • The purpose of Stage 2 is to ensure that everything you raised in your original complaint has been looked at in detail and correctly addressed and, if not, to make sure that this now happens.

4.       Refer to the Local Government Ombudsman

Once the council's complaints procedure has concluded you have the right to refer the matter to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman or the Housing Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is an independent person who investigates complaints about councils.

The ombudsman's investigations are free and confidential. You can contact the ombudsman:

If you have difficulties in making a complaint or receiving a response at any stage of the process we will be pleased to help you in any way we can.

What our complaints procedure does not cover

The following cannot be dealt with under our complaints procedure:

  • Cases where other rights of appeal exist
  • Routine requests for service
  • Allegations of fraud
  • Cases where an immediate response can be given, for example where uncollected refuse is immediately collected following notification
  • Cases that are more than 12 months old.  This is in line with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman's limit for the consideration of complaints
  • Complaints about councillors. If your complaint is about a councillor please put your complaint in writing and send it to the Monitoring Officer, Uttlesford District Council, Council Offices, London Road, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4ER

Abusive, persistent or vexatious complaints

The council has a process for dealing with complaints that fall within the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman's definitions of "unreasonable complainant behaviour" and "unreasonable persistent complaints".

These are covered by our Abusive, persistent or vexatious complaints policy.

Date of policy: November 2018