Complaints Procedure


Adopted by Walmer Parish Council 17 January 2007, Minute 2447

Amended by Walmer Parish Council 16 January 2013 Minute 3895

Amended by Walmer Parish Council 7 December 2016 minute 5151

Amendments recommended by HR committee and approved by Council in October 2017 at minute 5367 in italics

1. This Policy sets out procedures for dealing with any complaints that anyone may have about the Parish Council’s administration, procedures, staff or councillors.  Complaints against policy decisions made by the Council shall be referred back to Council [but note paragraph 39 of the Council’s Standing Orders which says that issues shall not be re-opened for six months]. If, in the case of a complaint about a third party, a more appropriate point of contact has already been established, the complaint should be directed there in the first instance.
2. If a complaint about administration, procedures, staff or councillors is notified orally to a Councillor or the Clerk to the Council, they should seek to satisfy the complaint fully.  If that fails, the complainant should be asked to put the complaint in writing to the Clerk and be assured that it will be dealt with within ten working days.  If this is not possible a response should be sent indicating a new dead-line.
3. If the complainant prefers not to put the complaint to the Clerk he or she should be advised to put it to the Chairman of the Council.  The complainant should be advised whether the complaint is to be treated as confidential or whether it is necessary in order to resolve the issues to involve other parties including those against whom the complaint is made. Anonymous complaints cannot be investigated unless exception circumstances, such as personal safety, exist.
4. On receipt of a written complaint the Chairman or the Clerk (except where the complaint is about his or her own actions), shall try to settle the complaint directly with the complainant.  This shall not be done without first notifying the person complained against and giving him or her an opportunity to comment.  Efforts should be made to attempt to settle the complaint at this stage.
5. Where the Clerk or the Chairman receives a written complaint about the Clerk’s actions, he or she shall refer the complaint to the Chairman.  The Clerk shall be notified and given an opportunity to comment.   Where the Clerk or the Chairman receives a written complaint about the Chairman’s actions he or she shall refer the complaint to the Vice Chairman.   The Chairman shall be notified and given an opportunity to comment.
6. The Clerk or Chairman shall report to the next meeting of the Council any written complaint disposed of by direct action with the complainant.
7. The Clerk and the Chairman of the Council will ascertain whether the Council’s Code of Conduct has been breached and if so refer the complaint on to the relevant authority.
8. The Clerk or Chairman shall bring any written complaint that has not been settled to the next meeting of the Council.  The Clerk shall notify the complainant of the date on which the complaint will be considered and the complainant shall be offered an opportunity to explain orally.  Seven working days before the meeting the complainant shall provide the council with copies of any documentation or other evidence relied on.  Three working days prior to the meeting the council shall provide the complainant with copies of any documentation upon which they wish to rely at the meeting.

(Unless such a matter may be related to Grievance, Disciplinary or Standard Board proceedings that are taking, or likely to take place when such a hearing may prejudice those hearing when the complaint will have to be heard under Exempt Business to exclude any member of the public or the press or deferred on appropriate advice received).

9. The Council shall consider whether the circumstances attending any complaint warrant the matter being discussed in the absence of the press and public but any decision on a complaint shall be announced at the Council meeting in public.
10. As soon as possible after the decision has been made it and the nature of any action to be taken shall be communicated in writing to the complainant and the person about whom the complaint was made.
11. A Council shall defer dealing with any written complaint only if it is of the opinion that issues of law or practice arise on which advice is necessary.  The complaint shall be dealt with at the next meeting after the advice has been received.