Complaints, Comments and Compliments

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Complaints Policy

Ribble Valley Borough Council is committed to providing high quality services to all our customers. Our Complaints, Comments and Compliments Policy is designed to ensure we continually improve our services and remedy any situations where we fail to meet our standards.

The Council takes all complaints seriously and values customer feedback. The Council is committed to learning from complaints and to making changes to policies and procedures to prevent similar complaints recurring.

Aims of complaints policy

We aim to:

  • make it easy for people to exercise their right to complain
  • ensure all complaints are dealt with quickly and consistently
  • improve the Council’s services
  • enhance the image of the Council and its employees in the eyes of Ribble Valley residents

What the complaints policy covers

Definition of a complaint

Ribble Valley Borough Council defines a complaint as:

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about a Council service, whether the service was provided by the Council itself or by somebody else on the Council’s behalf.
In practice there is sometimes confusion about what constitutes a complaint. For example, when does a request for a service or objection to a decision or policy become a complaint? This policy does not intend to define precisely all possible complaints, though some examples are highlighted, but rather to demonstrate the general principles we work towards and the process of communication by which we can achieve satisfactory resolutions.

Formal and informal complaints.

The Council makes no difference in how we treat formal and informal complaints, they are both expressions of dissatisfaction that require a response. For the purposes of this policy, an informal complaint is one which can be satisfactorily resolved before entering the first stage of the formal process. Such complaints typically do not require a written response. Formal complaints begin with stage one of the Council’s process and a formal response will be given at their conclusion.

What complaints does the policy apply to?

Examples of types of complaint are covered by the complaints policy:

  • a failure to provide a service
  • an unsatisfactory level or quality of service
  • a failure to follow the Council’s policy or procedures
  • the absence of proper procedures
  • delays in providing or completing a service
  • a failure to provide information or a failure to give correct information
  • complaints about the behaviour or attitude of a member of staff or contractors employed by the Council
  • complaints of bias, malice or unfair discrimination

What is excluded from the complaints policy?

In some cases the complaints process may not be the best course of action. This may include decisions made by the Council where an appeal process is in place or a remedy is available by appealing to a committee, tribunal, Minister of the Crown, or by proceedings in a court of law. Examples of matters excluded from this policy include:

Please note the complaints procedure will still apply to any part of the complaint that cannot be dealt with via the alternate options above - e.g. complaints about the conduct of a member of staff.

Where a complaint cannot be dealt with under the Complaints Procedure the complainant will be advised of any alternative procedures to use and provided with appropriate information and guidance.

Who can make a complaint?

Who can make a complaint:

  • Anyone who is not satisfied with any service provided by the Council
  • Anyone who has been affected by any error or omission in service provision.
  • Anyone who claims to have suffered an injustice as a result of action taken, or not taken, by or on behalf of the Council.

Complaints by a relative or friend

Complaints can be made on behalf of a relative or friend, providing that appropriate signed consent has been provided along with the complaint to the Council.

Anonymous complaints

The Council will not usually deal with anonymous complaints. However, a complainant may request that a complaint be dealt with in confidence and we may decide that it is appropriate to do so.

How to make a complaint?

Please use the online complaints form.

Alternatively, you can also:

  • email:
  • phone: 01200 413214
  • write to: Complaints Co-ordinator, Ribble Valley Borough Council, Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe, BB7 2RA.
  • discuss in person

Click here to download the complaints form

You can also contact the Complaints Co-ordinator for advice about the process using the above contact details.

The most convenient way to make a complaint is using the online complaints form. The Council requires a complaints form to be completed for all formal complaints. This is to ensure all necessary information is included and so complainants can express themselves in their own words. However, reasonable accommodations will be made where this presents difficulties.

Alternatively you can contact your local councillor and raise your complaint through them. If you do not know who your local councillor is or how to contact them you can find their details on the councillors page.
If your complaint is about a councillor see Complaints about Councillors.

The Local Government Ombudsman states that up to 12 weeks is usually a reasonable time for complaints that do not have a statutory process to follow. Our process intends to handle complaints more quickly but please note that some cases may take longer than the aims detailed in each stage below. This is particularly relevant for complex cases and where complaints occur alongside periods of annual leave or sickness absence.

Should you require any assistance, or should you require any reasonable adjustments, in order that you may make your complaint that. Ribble Valley Borough Council will make any reasonable adjustment in accordance with the Reasonable Adjustments Policy

Stage 1

Once you have made your complaint the Complaints Officer will confirm receipt of your complaint and begin an initial assessment. This assessment is intended to set out the scope of the complaint, outline potential remedies the complaints process could deliver and detail the next steps. This stage is intended to be completed as soon as practicable and we aim to respond within 5 working days.

Stage 2

Where a satisfactory resolution cannot be agreed in stage 1, or where further investigation is required, your complaint will progress to stage 2 - an investigation by the relevant service manager. We will aim to deal with complaints at this stage within a further 15 working days, and where this is not possible we will keep you informed of progress to let you know when a response will be ready. Once the investigation is complete we will send a formal response with the outcome. This will include details on how to progress to the next stage if desired.

Stage 3

If you are still not satisfied by the Council’s response the final stage of our process is a review by the Chief Executive or a Director. This review constitutes a further investigation independent of the relevant service area, typically conducted by the Complaints Officer. This independent investigation and the service manager’s investigation are reviewed by the Chief Executive or a Director who will then write a formal response to the complainant. We will aim to deal with complaints at this stage within a further 20 working days, and where this is not possible we will keep you informed of progress to let you know when a response will be ready.

Where it is determined that a satisfactory outcome is unlikely following stage 3 the Council, with the approval of the Chief Executive or a Director, may choose to refer the complaint directly to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman following stage 2.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Stage 3 is the final stage in the Council’s complaints process and should complainants remain unsatisfied after this stage is complete we advise that the next stage is to refer your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. Please note that complaints can be to the Local Government Ombudsman at any time; however, it is likely that the Ombudsman will only investigate complaints when the authority has had the opportunity to carry out its own investigation.

The Ombudsman will investigate the way your case has been handled, or the council's failure to do something but does not question a council's decision because you do not agree with it.

You can make a complaint through the Local Government Ombudsman website

Or, the Ombudsman can be contacted at:
Tel: 0300 061 0614
Fax 024 7682 0001
Text 'call back' to 0762 480 3014

The Local Government Ombudsman
PO Box 4771