Complaints Policy

Complaints Policy

Mole Valley District Council has an ongoing commitment to improving services. Receiving complaints from customers is an important part of ensuring that we continue to deliver services to the satisfaction of our customers.

We treat complaints as an opportunity to make improvements immediately and in the future. As in all of our contact with customers, we will respond to complaints courteously, fairly and efficiently. This complaints policy forms part of our overall customer care standards.

What is a complaint?

You can complain to us about our action or lack of action or about the standard of a service, whether the action taken or the service provided was by Mole Valley District Council itself or by a person or body acting on our behalf. We will not usually investigate a complaint that is more than 12 months old.

A complaint can be verbal or written.

What is not a complaint?

A complaint is not:

  • A request for a service (e.g. deal with noise nuisance)
     
  • A request for information or an explanation of Council Policy (e.g. why Council Tax is set at such a level)
     
  • Matters for which there is a right of appeal to an independent tribunal (e.g. planning application)
     
  • Matters which you can go to court about
     
  • Issues concerning the conduct of a councillor. Complaints about the conduct of a councillor can be made by writing to: The Monitoring Officer, Mole Valley District Council,
    Pippbrook, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1SJ
    Or email legal@molevalley.gov.uk

Aim of the Complaints Policy

The purpose of the Complaints Policy is to ensure that:

  • Customers know how to raise a complaint and how to escalate that complaint if they are dissatisfied with our initial response
     
  • We investigate complaints thoroughly
     
  • We follow our process, keeping you informed of progress and the outcome of your complaint
     
  • We put things right where we can and we look for opportunities to make improvements for the future
     
  • We provide an explanation if we believe your complaint is not justified
     
  • Complaints are centrally monitored across the Council

Although we have standard response times for each stage of a complaint, we are aware that some complaints take more time to investigate than others. If this is the case we will inform you in writing about the anticipated length of time involved.

Stages of the procedure

Informal Stage

We expect that the majority of issues will be resolved informally when taken up directly with the Service responsible. If you have an issue that the member of staff you have initially dealt with is unable to resolve, then you should ask to be put in contact with the relevant manager.

You can find out who this person is by calling Customer Services on 01306 885001. If, after you have contacted the manager, you are still not satisfied that your issue has been satisfactorily resolved, then you should use the formal complaints procedure set out below

Stage 1

You can register a formal complaint with the Council’s Customer Care Officer, who will carry out an independent investigation with the appropriate officer(s). To do this please use the Complaints form on our website or email complaints@molevalley.gov.uk.

Alternatively you can write to The Customer Care Officer, Mole Valley District Council, Pippbrook, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1SJ.

If you are unable to put your complaint in writing, you can ask to speak to the Customer Care Officer by calling 01306 885001.

You will be sent an acknowledgement of your complaint within 3 working days and a full response to your complaint within 10 working days.

Stage 2

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the Stage 1 decision, you can escalate the matter to Stage 2. The Customer Care Officer will receive your Stage 2 complaint and refer it to the Chief Executive, who will assign an appropriate manager to re-examine the evidence and give a judgement.

An acknowledgement will be sent within 3 working days and a full written response sent within 10 working days.

Complaint against an Executive Head of Service

If your original complaint is concerning an Executive Head of Service, then you should use the procedure starting at Stage 2

Complaint against the Chief Executive

If your original complaint is concerning the Chief Executive of the Council, then the complaint should be directed to the Leader of the Council.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is independent of Government or local councils and is the final stage for complaints about councils. The service they provide is free. They investigate complaints in a fair and independent way and do not take sides.

The type of complaint they will investigate will include whether we gave you incorrect information, made a decision in the wrong way, treated you unfairly, did not follow our own rules or the law or took too long to do something.

Before the service can investigate a complaint, Mole Valley District Council must be given an opportunity to answer the complaint by going through the two stages of our complaints procedure.

If we have been unable to resolve your complaint within a reasonable time, which is usually 12 weeks, or if your problem has not been put right, you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

In most cases, you will need to have complained to them within 12 months of becoming aware of the matter and have been directly affected by it, which is called ‘personal injustice’.

The LGSCO Advice Team can be contacted online at www.lgo.org.uk or call 0300 061 0614.

Privacy

Mole Valley District Council has a duty to protect your personal data and keep it secure. To view a copy of our Privacy Notice, please visit our website www.molevalley.gov.uk or contact the Customer Care Officer.
 

Comments and Suggestions

Sometimes customers do not wish to make a complaint but have something to suggest about how we could do things better. To do this, please use our online Comments and Suggestions form on our website.

If you have received outstanding customer service from a Mole Valley District Council employee that not only met, but exceeded your expectations, you can nominate them for a SHINE Award.

Details can be found on our website or call 01306 885001 for more information.

Learning from Complaints

When a complaint investigation is concluded, the Customer Care Officer considers whether there is any learning that can be applied. This is then discussed with the Manager of the service area concerned. All of our complaints are regularly monitored by the Strategic Leadership Team.

Our Scrutiny Committee receives a report each year about the complaints that have been raised and how we have dealt with them. It also includes any conclusions reached by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. In addition the report, which is published on our website, highlights any improvements made to our services as a result of complaints received.

Vexatious Complainants

We want to deal fairly and honestly with complainants and ensure that other service users, officers or the Council as a whole do not suffer detriment from persons making persistent and/or vexatious complaints.

The Chief Executive will write to vexatious complainants to inform them that their behaviour is considered to be unacceptable.

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