Making a comment, suggestion or complaint

How to make a comment, suggestion or complaint; and what happens next

Your views help us to improve services and recognise your particular needs, so if you think we could do better, we want to hear from you. We also like to know when you think we did something well, and if anything in particular impressed you.

You can also contact a service directly online or by phone.

Problems with a service we provide

Talking with staff will usually resolve things, so the first thing we ask you to do is to raise the matter with the staff concerned. We hope they will be able to put things right straight away, or explain why they can’t. This is often the quickest route to getting an issue resolved.

If you are unhappy with their response, then you can ask the department responsible for that service to review your complaint.

If you are dissatisfied or have concerns about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the County Council, you can make a formal complaint.

If you are dissatisfied with the response to your complaint we will consider an independent investigation by our corporate complaints team.

There are some situations that are not dealt with under the complaints process:

  • making a highway related claim, matters that are being considered as part of a highway related claim or the outcome of a Highway claim
  • reports of problems such as a pothole or a faulty street lights. Report a road problem
  • queries about an invoice as a customer or supplier
  • application for a service or to contact us to request a service
  • explanations of policy or practice
  • requests for information or Freedom of Information request.
  • where a service has a right of appeal eg School Admission Appeals
  • matters that are being considered as an information request such as an FOI or a Subject Access Request (SAR), where an alternative resolution process is in place
  • a complaint that has been heard by a court or tribunal

For more information, see our full definition of a complaint.

Corporate Complaints procedure
Corporate Complaints – the stages explained

Complaints about Adult Services and Children’s Services

Please note that Adult Services and Children's Services departments have separate arrangements for complaints.

If you have a complaint about a school please use the school's own complaints procedure to register your concern.

Complaints relating to Council staff

If your complaint relates to the conduct of a Council employee, we will deal with this with appropriate advice from our human resources and internal audit services.

However, where this is progressed through our disciplinary policy details must remain confidential between the Council and the employee and so we may not always be able to share details of the outcome with you.

Complaints regarding a County Councillor

If you wish to make a complaint that a Member of the County Council has failed to comply with the Members' Code of Conduct you should complete the Complaint against a Member form.

For information please also see:

The process and how long it takes

We will acknowledge your complaint within five working days from the date of receipt and tell you how long it will take to give you a full reply. We try to respond quickly to complaints and will reply to you within 20 working days.

Sometimes, for example due to the complexity of a complaint, we will not be able to meet this timescale. If this happens we will write to you, and keep you fully informed of the progress being made.

Wherever possible we will deal with your comments, suggestions and complaints in confidence. However, in order to investigate complaints thoroughly, it may be necessary to share details of what you say.

Our expectations

We are committed to dealing with any concerns fairly, fully and in a timely manner. In return we expect people to be polite and considerate to our staff.

Usually dealing with concerns is a straightforward process, but in a small number of cases customers pursue their cases in a way that can get in the way of investigating the complaint or unfairly take staff away from their other duties. In these cases we reserve the right to apply our management of unreasonable contact and customer behaviour procedure.

If you are unhappy with the process

If you are unhappy with the way we have dealt with your complaint at the end of our complaints process, or feel we have treated you unfairly, you can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman will expect you to have taken your complaint through our own procedures first.