Complaints Procedure

This Policy sets out procedures for dealing with any complaints that anyone may have about Ewyas Harold Group Parish Council’s administration and procedures. Complaints against policy decisions made by the Council shall be referred back to Council, but Standing Orders prevent the Council from re-opening issues for six months, from the date of the decision, unless there are exceptional grounds to consider this necessary.

This complaints procedure does not apply to:

Councillors are covered by the Code of Conduct for Members adopted by the Council on 7th August 2012 and complaints against councillors shall be referred to the Monitoring Officer of Herefordshire Council.

If a complaint is made against the Clerk, this should be passed to the Chairman of the Council in writing and, if appropriate, will be dealt with in accordance with the disciplinary procedure.
In all instances the complainant will receive an acknowledgement within 3 working days and will also be advised of the outcome of their complaint.

Before the Meeting

If a complaint about procedures or administration as practised by the Council is notified orally to a Councillor or the Clerk to the Council, the initial action will be to establish the real issues and attempt an immediate resolution. This is particularly the case when the issue is one of information, understanding or interpretation. If this fails, the complainant will be asked to put the complaint in writing to the Clerk to the Council and be assured that it will be dealt with promptly after receipt.

If the complainant prefers not to put the complaint to the Clerk to the Council he or she can put it to the Chairman of Council.

Within three working days of receipt of a complaint, the Clerk or Chairman of Council shall acknowledge the receipt of the complaint in writing to the complainant. The Clerk or Chairman shall try to settle the complaint directly, within the existing policy of the council, except where the complaint is about his/her own actions, but shall not do so in respect of a complaint about the behaviour of the Clerk or a Councillor without notifying the person complained of and giving him/her an opportunity to comment on the manner in which it is intended to attempt to settle the complaint.  Where the Clerk or Chairman receives a written complaint about his/her own actions, he/she shall immediately refer the complaint to the Council.

The Clerk or Chairman shall report to the next meeting of the Council any written complaint disposed of by direct action with the complainant.

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 the complaint orally and bring with them a representative if they wish. (Unless such a matter may be related to Grievance or Disciplinary proceedings that are taking, or are likely to take place when such a hearing may prejudice those hearings, 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).

The 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.

Not less than seven clear working days prior to the meeting, the complainant shall provide the Council with copies of any documentation or other evidence, which they wish to refer to at the meeting.
The Council shall similarly provide the complainant with copies of any documentation upon which they wish to rely at the meeting.

At the Meeting

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.

Chairman will introduce everyone and explain procedure.

The complainant (or their representative) shall outline the grounds for complaint.

Councillors or Clerk may ask any question of the complainant.

If relevant, the Clerk shall explain the Council’s position.

Councillors may ask any question of the Clerk or other officer.

The Clerk, or other officer and the complainant shall be offered the opportunity to summarise their position (in this order).

The Clerk and complainant shall be asked to leave the room while Councillors decide whether or not the grounds for the complaint have been made. (If a point of clarification is necessary, both parties shall be invited back).

The Clerk and the complainant shall return to hear decision, or to be advised when decision shall be made.

After the Meeting

The decision shall be confirmed in writing to the complainant within seven working days together with details of any action to be taken.

In the event of a serial facetious, vexatious or malicious complaints from a member of the public the Council shall consider taking legal advice before responding formally to the complainant.
Adopted at the Parish Council Meeting on 14th June 2016