From time to time members of the public may have complaints about the administration or procedures of the Parish Council. The Parish Council, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Local Government Ombudsman. However, for transparency in local government and for the benefit of good local administration, the Parish Council has adopted a formal procedure for considering complaints.
The Code of Practice set out is designed to ensure that the complainant can feel satisfied that at the very least, their complaint has been properly and fully considered.
This Complaints Procedure does not apply to complaints about the behaviour of a Councillor, which are subject to the jurisdiction of the Standards Boards for England where there is perceived to be a breach of the Parish Council’s adopted Code of Conduct. Complainants on these matters will be advised to contact the District Monitoring Officer or Standards Boards direct.
Code of practice whilst handling complaints
- If a complaint about the Council’s procedures or administration is notified to a Councillor or the Clerk, then the Clerk shall in the first instance speak to or write to the complainant to endeavour to resolve the complaint by informal means.
- If it is not possible to satisfy the complainant by such means, the complainant shall be given a copy of the Council’s Complaints Procedure, and informed that if they wish to pursue the complaint further they should write to the Clerk setting out the details of their complaint, together with any documentation or other evidence they wish to refer to, and requesting that the complaint be referred to the Council’s Complaints Committee.
- On receipt of such written request the Clerk, shall summon a meeting of the Council’s Complaints Committee, and shall notify the complainant of the place, time and date (not more than one calendar month from the date of receipt of the complainant’s request) at which the Complaints Committee will meet to consider the complaint.
- Not less that 7 days before the meeting of the Complaints Committee the Clerk shall provide the complainant with copies of any documentation upon which they wish to rely at the meeting.
- Not less than 3 clear days before the meeting of the members of the Complaints Committee shall be provided with copies of the documentation provided by the Complainant and by the Council in 3 & 4 above.
- If the matter is such that it may lead to a disciplinary hearing of an employee, or legal proceedings against the Council, then the Complaints Committee will meet, with the press and public excluded.
- If the complaint is of an employee, even if the matter is being dealt with initially out of context of a formal disciplinary hearing, then the employee is entitled to have a representative present to act as set out in the Employment Relations Act 1999 s.10. The matter before the Complaints Committee in this case will be to establish whether there is a factual basis to the complaint and the action that should then be taken. The proceedings at this stage cannot be a formal disciplinary hearing, which must be convened on a separate occasion in the proper manner.
- If the Clerk is submitting matters on behalf of the Council, the Clerk will not advise the Complaints Committee on any decision to be taken.
- At the meeting of the Complaints Committee, the Chairman of the Committee shall:
- Introduce everyone
- Explain the procedure
- The Complainant (or representative) shall outline the grounds for the complaint
- Members of the Committee may ask questions of the complainant
- If relevant the Clerk, shall explain the Council’s position
- Members of the Committee may ask questions of the Clerk
- The Clerk, or other appointed officer shall be offered the opportunity to sum up
- The Complainant (or representative) shall be offered the opportunity to sum up
- The Complainant (or representative) and the Clerk shall leave the room while members decide whether or not the grounds for the complaint have been made ( and if a point of clarification is needed both parties to be invited back)
- The Complainant (or representative) and the Clerk shall return to hear the decision, or be advised when the decision will be made
- After the meeting the decision will be confirmed in writing within 7 working days together with details of any action to be taken
- As soon as practicable after the decision has been made, the decision and the nature of any action to be taken, shall be communicated in writing to the complainant