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Complaints procedure

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We aim to deliver high quality and efficient services. We are always trying to do better and welcome your feedback.

If things go wrong we want to rectify the problems fairly and as quickly as possible. When things go well, we appreciate compliments and suggestions.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the standard of service, action or lack of action by the National Park Authority or by a person or body acting on behalf of the Authority and it can include suggestions to improve the service. 

The complaints process is not an appeal or review of procedure to challenge the merits of decisions, nor is it a process to request a review of a decision which goes against someone.

If you want to comment on the work of the Authority, or the standard of service you receive, there are two ways to do so:

1. Informal: Concerns can often be dealt with by the person handling the original enquiry. A customer service adviser will help if you are not sure who to contact.

2. Formal: Should you decide to make a formal complaint, please supply customer service with the details of the service you are unhappy with, together with staff names and dates if known.

All comments and complaints are treated in confidence and will not disadvantage you in any future dealings you might have with the Authority. 

Please note, complaints about Authority Members follow a separate procedure.

What happens if you complain?

The procedure for a formal complaint follows two stages:

Stage 1

If the person who dealt with your original enquiry cannot resolve the problem informally, please contact the customer service team, who will acknowledge your complaint within three working days and ensure the relevant manager investigates.

If a complaint relates to the person who would normally investigate a complaint, the monitoring officer or the chief executive will identify an appropriate officer to investigate and ensure no conflict of interest arises.

You will receive a direct response within 15 working days, although if the matter is complex this may need to be extended, within a reasonable period, after explaining to you why.

Stage 2

If after receiving a response from the relevant Manager you are not satisfied you can contact Customer Service and ask for your complaint to be referred to the Director of the relevant Service (or Chief Executive if the Director has responded at Stage One) who will review the Stage One response and respond to you personally within 20 working days. Again, you will be kept informed if there are any delays.

This step concludes our internal procedure. If you remain dissatisfied, you may refer your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman by:

  • completing their on-line complaint form available at www.lgo.org.uk
  • telephone 0300 061 0614 
  • text ‘call back’ to 0762 481 1595

The monitoring officer takes responsibility for ensuring the Authority fully co-operates with any investigation undertaken by the Local Government Ombudsman and responds to any recommendations made.

Procedure for responding to unreasonably persistent complaints

The Authority values the feedback on our services that we receive through the complaints process and we are committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially and to providing a high quality service to those who make them. However, there are a small number of complainants who, because of the nature and frequency of their contact with the Authority's offices and our limited resources, hinder us in providing a service and responding to enquiries from others. We refer to such complainants as 'unreasonably persistent complainants' and, exceptionally, we will take action to limit their contact with our staff.

The decision to restrict access to our staff will be taken by the monitoring officer or chief executive and will normally follow exhaustion of our complaints procedure and a prior warning to the complainant. Any restrictions imposed will be appropriate and proportionate. The options we are most likely to consider are:
requesting contact in a particular form (for example, letters only):

  • requiring contact to take place with a named officer
  • restricting telephone calls to specified days and times
  • responding only with an acknowledgement confirming receipt of a letter or email unless new material is presented
  • asking the complainant to enter into an agreement about their future contacts with us

In all cases where we decide to treat someone as an 'unreasonably persistent complainant', we will write to tell the complainant what action we are taking along with explaining their right to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, if appropriate, having exhausted our own complaints procedure.

Complaints on new issues from people who have come under the 'unreasonably persistent complainants' procedure will be treated fairly and impartially on their merits. All efforts will be made to check correspondence received to ensure new issues are not missed.

Procedure for dealing with anonymous complaints

Any anonymous complaint received will only be referred for investigation or some other action if it includes documentary or photographic evidence indicating an exceptionally serious or significant matter.

Complaints against members

Members of the Authority are subject to a Code of Conduct. If you think a Member has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct you can make a complaint against them. Your complaint should be made using the prescribed. It will be dealt with under a separate procedure set out in our "Arrangements for dealing with Standards Allegations". See the full details on our website which are also available on request from our customer service team.

Arrangements for dealing with Standards Allegations

If you need any further information, or help in making a comment or complaint, please contact our customer service team.

Member involvement in complaints

On occasions complaints are sent directly to Authority Members or raised as part of our "We're here for you" initiative. When this happens Members are encouraged to send the complaint to the Director of Corporate Strategy and Development so that it is dealt with in accordance with this policy. On request, and with the consent of the complainant, the final response will be copied to the Member who makes the referral.

Members of the Authority's Audit, Resources and Performance Committee receive a quarterly report providing a summary of the complaints received during the last three months. Members can use this information to highlight any trends, identify significant areas of concern and explore areas for further scrutiny.

Procedure for dealing with requests to review decisions made under the Freedom of Information Act

Procedure for dealing with requests to review decisions made under the Freedom of Information Act
If you are not happy with a Freedom of Information decision then you have the right of appeal through the Authority's complaints procedures by writing to the Director of Corporate Strategy and Development at our Aldern House address, or by telephone: 01629 816200 or by email to AIRR@peakdistrict.gov.uk

Requests for reviews of freedom of information decisions should be made within 3 months of the date of issue of the decision, and will be responded to within 20 working days of the request being received. For reviews of EIR decisions (Environmental Information Regulations 2004), the response will be within 40 working days as prescribed by the Information Commissioner.

If you remain dissatisfied after the appeals procedure you may contact the Information Commissioner's Office at:

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123113
ICO website: www.ico.gov.uk

This must be done within three months of the conclusion of any internal review conducted by the Authority. The ICO will only consider a complaint after three months in exceptional circumstances, and at the discretion of the Commissioner.

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