Comments, complaints, compliments
We want you to tell us what we are doing right, what we could do better and what we are doing wrong, so that we can try to put it right and improve services for others.
We take complaints seriously and use them as an opportunity to listen to the views of our customers and see how our services can be improved.
How to contact us
- tell the member of staff you are dealing with
- phone us on 01246 345345
- text us on 07960 910264
- use our online form
- fill in a Complaints, Comments and Compliments leaflet, available in all council public buildings
- write to us at Support Services, Town Hall, Rose Hill, Chesterfield, S40 1LP
Comments and compliments
We welcome any comments or compliments received about the services that the council provides. All comments and compliments will be recorded and monitored with the same system used for complaints. Comments and compliments will be fed back to senior managers, services and where possible to individual members of staff to ensure continuous service improvement.
We need to be clear whether we have received a complaint, rather than a request for a service or a request for an explanation of a decision.
We use the following definition, from the Ombudsman, to decide if a complaint has been made:
"A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction by one or more members of the public about the council’s action or lack of action or about the standard of a service, whether the action was taken or the service provided by the council itself or a person or body acting on behalf of the council".
- failure to respond to a routine service request
- inadequate or unsatisfactory service
- failure to follow policies, standards or procedures
- undue delay in taking action
- inaccurate or misleading information
- disrespectful or unhelpful staff
Although most complaints will fall into this definition there are some cases that won't be dealt with through our complaints process:
- decisions, eg planning, environmental health, council tenancy, which have their own independent statutory appeal processes
- allegations of financial irregularity will be referred to internal audit or the Audit Commission
- criminal activity will be referred to the police
- complaints that a councillor has broken the code of conduct are assessed by the monitoring officer
- Freedom of Information, Environmental Information and Subject Access Requests and complaints about responses have their own council review system and right of appeal to the Information Commissioner
- any complaints arising out of actions or omissions which occurred more than 12 months previously.
The complaints process
We have a three stage process:
Complaints can be best dealt with by our ‘front-line’ staff who provide the service. Your complaint should be acknowledged within five working days, giving the name and contact details of the member of staff dealing with it, and informing you of the outcome or progress within 15 working days. At the end of stage one if you remain dissatisfied you can have the complaint reviewed by the service manager (stage two).
At the second stage a more senior member of staff, usually the service manager or someone acting on their behalf, will reconsider your complaint (but only if you are dissatisfied with the original response) and tell you the outcome or progress. This should be given within another 15 working days. At the end of stage two if you remain dissatisfied you can have the complaint reviewed by one of the most senior managers in the council outside the service area (stage three).
At this third stage, the complaint is reviewed by the chief executive, an executive director or someone acting on their behalf and independent of the service concerned. This final review, or progress on it, will be communicated to you within 15 working days.
Complaining to the Ombudsman
You have the right to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman if you are dissatisfied with the way the complaint was dealt with or the outcome. Call 0300 061 0614 or go to the website at www.lgo.org.uk.
You can complain to the Housing Ombudsman if you are dissatisfied with the way a complaint about the council as a housing landlord was dealt with or the outcome. Call the Housing Ombudsman on 0300 111 3000 or go to the website at www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk.
There is lots of information about making a complaint on the Ombudsman websites.
The Ombudsman is unlikely to look at your complaint unless it has already been through the Council’s complaints procedure.
The council has limited resources and needs to deal with complaints in way that is proportionate to the issues raised.
We have adopted a policy setting out how it will deal with unreasonable complaints or customers. You can view or download our policy below.