Please note the Council may take longer than usual to respond to your concerns due to the additional support and assistance we are giving to our residents and customers at this time.
Please ensure you have read our Complaints Procedure below, which describes what we treat as a complaint and provides further information about our process before completing our online complaints form.
Wealden District Council welcomes all forms of feedback and we are committed to ensuring we use it to maintain, enhance or improve our services and culture.
Before you make a complaint, we would ask you to contact the relevant service or officer you have been dealing with as they may not be aware that you are dissatisfied. We believe they should be given the opportunity to put things right for you or explain what went wrong.
If you remain dissatisfied with their response, you can submit a formal complaint using the process outlined below.
When does this Policy Apply
We will consider your communication a complaint when you express dissatisfaction about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the Council, our staff, or those acting on our behalf that effect an individual or a group.
If you are contacting us for the first time about a problem, we may try to resolve the problem for you during this initial contact where we can, if we believe the matter can be resolved quickly. There is a mutual benefit in doing this as it will keep things simple for you and result in a quicker outcome whilst making best use of limited resources for the Council.
Complaints not Covered by this Policy
There are some things that this policy will not cover, such as:
- routine or day to day issues that can be easily resolved
- there are other processes more suitable for dealing with them, such as statutory appeal or tribunal process
- they are matters outside our control
- there are separate legal or regulatory requirements covering these services
the matter you wish to raise is part of an ongoing process that is yet to be concluded
- you have left it more than 12 months since knowing about the problem
How to help us when making a complaint
Please give us as much detail as possible about the complaint including:
- Your full name
- Contact details
- What service you are complaining about
- What happened (or should have happened)
- How has it affected you
- What you would like us to do to put things right
What to expect when making a formal complaint
Formal Complaint – Stage 1
As mentioned above, if we have not been able to resolve your problem at initial contact and it meets the qualifying criteria, we will formally register your complaint.
The person looking into your complaint will usually need to see the files we hold relevant to your complaint. If you don’t want this to happen, it’s important that you tell us. However, this may mean that we are not able to investigate your complaint further.
Our aim is to respond to your complaint within 15 working days of receipt of your complaint where this is practical. We would highlight that response times are flexible and we may need additional time if the matter is complex or there are exceptional or unforeseen circumstances. In such instances, we will make contact and give an indicative timescale of when a full response will be provided.
When we respond, we will advise you of what we have taken into account in reaching our decision; our decision and the reasons for it; if any action is needed; if any changes to our processes and / or procedures are required; a clear statement about whether we are able to resolve your complaint; and details about how to make a stage 2 complaint should you remain dissatisfied with the outcome or with how we have conducted our investigation.
Formal Complaint – Stage 2
If you disagree with our response, you may submit a Stage 2 request within three months of receiving the response under Stage 1. You must provide the original complaint reference provided to you at Stage 1, otherwise the complaint may be considered as a new complaint and handled accordingly.
If the reviewing officer believes you have misinterpreted our response at Stage 1 or a better explanation or clarification may help resolve the complaint, then rather than escalate to Stage 2, the officer may decide to respond to you with supplementary correspondence.
Our aim is to respond within 15 working days of receipt of your complaint where this is practical. We would highlight that response times are flexible and we may need additional time if the matter is complex or there are exceptional or unforeseen circumstances. In such instances, we will make contact and give an indicative timescale of when a full response will be provided.
The Stage 2 complaint process will focus on whether your original complaint was properly considered and ensure that key issues you have raised have been addressed and whether the right outcome was reached.
Local Government and Housing Ombudsman Service
If you believe that we have not treated your complaint fairly or that we have not met our own standards for handling complaints and, your complaint has been through both stages of our Complaints Procedure, then you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) or Housing Ombudsman (HO) to review your complaint and offer you further advice. This requires complainants to go through all stages of the Council’s own procedure first, except in certain circumstances.
Both offer a free service that anyone can use, and they provide a final stage of investigation into complaints made about councils. They can provide information about next steps and whether they can or should investigate on your behalf if you:
- are not happy with the way we have handled your complaint
- are not satisfied with our response to your complaint.
Please note that you must contact them yourself if you want to refer your complaint and they will advise you to follow our complaint process in the first instance.
Local Government Ombudsman
Telephone: 0300 061 0614
Address: Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH
Telephone: 0300 1113000
Address: Housing Ombudsman Service, Exchange Tower, Harbour Exchange Square, London, E14 9G
If your complaint is related to the conduct of a Councillor please complete the Standards Committee Complaints form