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Annual Complaints Report 2018-19

Meeting: 09/10/2019 - Civic Affairs (Item 39)

39 Annual Complaints Report 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 416 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee received a report from the Head of Corporate Strategy regarding the Annual Complaints Report. The Officer updated his report to say on page 5 of the report (page 73 of the agenda pack) the report gave the number of complaints in the last year (1161), and the number by which this had increased on the previous year (463).  These were also shown in the chart at the top of the following page.  Due to a calculation error when working out the percentage increase, this was erroneously stated as a 34% increase. The correct figure is 66%.


The Head of Corporate Strategy, Head of Shared Internal Audit, Head of Shared Waste Service and Business & Development Manager said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  The Council has a Local Code of Governance which is a framework of policies and processes that Councillors and Officers should follow. The complaints process is part of this framework that is reviewed annually by Members as part of the Annual Governance Statement.

  ii.  The Council had a risk-based approach to Internal Audit planning and any significant risks or governance issues would be included.

  iii.  Complaint ‘response within target’ trend information for the council as a whole could be reported back in future to show statistics such as year on year comparison.

  iv.  The number of complaints had risen since 2018/19, but this was due to a number of factors. For example, people could complain about policy decisions (eg bin collection days, the policy on collecting missed bins or the policy on green waste collections) as well as operational matters such as repeatedly-missed individual bins. The City Council reported missed bin collections due to blocked roads (i.e. factors outside its control) unlike most other local authorities. The Waste Service had a tracker system to monitor, address and spot trends.

  v.  The Council had a system that could separate complaints into different categories e.g. policy or operational. Services were learning how to do this; some were more advanced than others.

  vi.  The City and South Cambridgeshire had growth areas. The Waste Service could receive complaints if bins were not collected as access roads were unsuitable for collection vehicles or the Service was unaware of new housing developments (i.e. not notified of them). The Waste Service reacted to complaints when received.

 vii.  Each local authority reported complaints in different ways so it was hard to compare the City Council with others. However, the level of complaints in recent years seemed to be lower than some comparable local authorities.

viii.  The scope of the Independent Complaints Investigator was modelled on the Local Government Ombudsman. Removing Stage 3 from the Council’s complaints procedure would not leave people unable to make complaints.


Unanimously resolved:

  i.  Considered the draft Annual Complaints Report for 2018-19, and approved for publication on the Council’s website.


Resolved (by 4 votes to 0):

  ii.  Agreed to amend the Civic Affairs Committee’s Terms of Reference as explained in paras 3.6 – 3.12 of the Officer’s report and also set out in Appendix C.

  iii.  Agreed to remove Stage 3 from the Council’s complaints procedure from 1 April 2020 as explained in paras 3.13 – 3.23 of the Officer’s report.