The aims of our procedure
We aim to:
- Make it easy for you to complain
- Acknowledge your complaint promptly
- Ensure we thoroughly investigate complaints
- Keep you informed of the progress and the outcome of your complaint
- Refer your complaint to the appropriate partner organisation, if required, and seek to work with them to Resolve the complaint
- Make a fair decision
- Treat you with respect and act honestly
- Put things right and make improvements for the future, where we can
- Provide an explanation where we feel the complaint is not justified
- Centrally monitor complaints across the Council.
We have standards of response times for complaints, although we recognise that some complaints may be far more complex than others. If this is the case we shall let you know the anticipated length of time involved to investigate.
If your complaint refers to matters of a personal nature and we need to refer it to a third party, we will seek your consent first before doing so.
There are three steps in the complaints process;
- Complaints - Informal stage
- Formal complaints - stage 1
- Formal complaints - stage 2
We aim to resolve the vast majority of complaints about Council services at the first point of contact. Please let us know of any problem to give us the opportunity to put it right as soon as we can.
In many instances the first point of contact with the Council may be the Council’s main Contact Centre on 01737 276000 or using our contact us form below. If your complaint cannot be resolved at the first point of contact, we will put you in touch with someone who can help you.
The kind of instance that you may wish to refer is a missed rubbish bin collection where the Help Line can log the details and ensure a message is sent to the appropriate unit to put the matter right. You can also report a problem online.
If after you have contacted us you are still not satisfied or the issue has not been resolved then you should use stage 1 of the formal complaints procedure.
You can register a formal complaint by using one of the forms on our Complaints page. This is the quickest and easiest way to make your complaint .We would prefer that you use the form as this helps to ensure that the complaint is recorded properly. Alternatively, you can put your complaint in writing, either via email or in hardcopy, or you can visit the Town Hall to make your complaint in person.
We need to know what you believe went wrong, what you would like us to do to put it right and whether you have already spoken to anyone about it. If your complaint is about a particular Head of Service then you should follow the procedure under stage 2.
Your complaint will be acknowledged within three working days of receipt we will come back to you within 10 working days to provide an answer or say when we will be able to give you a full reply, as well as an update on the investigation.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation at stage 1, or your complaint is about a particular Head of Service, you can write to the Chief Executive’s Department where a separate, independent internal investigation of the complaint will be carried out.
Here we will re-examine evidence and policy and will give a judgement to either uphold the original decision or offer a new solution. An acknowledgement will be sent within three days and a full response (or reason why one cannot be given and when one can be expected) within 21 working days.
Who is informed of your complaint?
Your Ward Councillor or the appropriate Executive Member or Chairman of the relevant Council Committee will be informed of your complaint and the outcome of the investigation.
Failure to reach a satisfactory solution through the formal complaints procedure means that you still have the right to refer the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman. To find out more click on Next below.
The council has a code of conduct that applies to officers of the council and elected Members. This is to ensure standards of behaviour and professionalism. The Chief Executive’s Department can supply you with more information on this if required.
If, when you register your complaint, it is clear that the matter refers to another partner organisation then we shall refer you to the person best placed to help you .
You may direct complaints to your local elected councillor or to your Member of Parliament. Your councillor will decide whether to respond directly to you or ask the relevant officer of the council to do so on their behalf. In the latter case the complaint will then be dealt with in accordance with our complaints procedure.
Local Government Ombudsman
The Local Government Ombudsman is independent of Government or local councils and provides impartial, confidential and free investigation of complaints about local authorities.
For example, whether a council gave you incorrect information, made a decision in the wrong way, treated you unfairly, did not follow its own rules or the law or took too long to do something.
Before the service can investigate a complaint, the council must be given an opportunity to answer the complaint. The Ombudsman prefers to take up complaints that have been through the council’s own complaints procedure. In Reigate & Banstead that means the complaint should have been through both stages of the formal procedure.
There are certain matters that the Ombudsman Service cannot investigate and information on this is provided in their leaflet. If you would like one of these call the Contact Centre on 01737 276000 or use the contact us form. More information on their complaints procedure is available here (Local Goverment Ombudsman website).
The Ombudsman does not usually criticise the merits of a decision which has been properly taken simply because someone may disagree with it. He or she will, however, look at the way the decision was made.
Full details on how to contact the Local Government Ombudsman can be found at Contact us (Local Government Ombudsman website).
Freedom of information and the Data Protection Act
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act entitles anybody to ask a public authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (including Government departments), for any recorded information that they keep.
Guidance on making a FOI request can be found at Freedom of information (Gov.uk website).
If you have made a FOI request and have not been satisfied with the Council’s response, you can complain using our complaints procedure. If after following our complaints procedure, you want to take your FOI complaint further, you can contact the Information Commissioner by following the guidance at Information Commissioner's Office website.
Complaints about councillors
Please see the Complaints about councillors page for details and the complaints form.
We may from time to time contact a sample of customers who have used our complaints process to ask for their feedback on the response they received. Your co-operation with this process is much appreciated as it will help us to improve the service we offer to you.