From time to time members of the public have complaints about the administration or procedures of the Parish Council. For the benefit of good local administration Minster-on-Sea Parish Council has adopted a formal procedure for considering complaints either made by complainants direct or referred back to the council from other bodies to whom they have been made. The Code set out below is a way of ensuring that complainants can feel satisfied that their complaint has been properly and fully considered.
CODE OF PRACTICE
The following procedure will be adopted for dealing with complaints about Minster-on-Sea Parish Council’s administration or its procedures. Complaints about a policy decision, made by the Council, will be referred back to the Council, or relevant committee, as appropriate for consideration.
This procedure does not cover complaints about a Member of the Parish Council.
If a complaint about procedures, administration or any actions of any of the Council’s employees is notified orally to a Councillor or to the Clerk of the Council, a written record of the complaint will be made, noting the name and contact details of the complaint and the nature of the complaint.
The Complainant will be asked to put their complaint in writing to the Clerk of the Council at the address stated below. This can be done by letter, e-mail or by use of a standard form. The complaint will be dealt with within twenty one days of receipt. Refusal to put the complaint in writing will not mean that the complaint cannot be investigated but it is easier in the long run as it can help clarify the facts.
If the complainant prefers not to put the complaint to the Clerk of the Council then (because the matter relates to the Clerk for example) he or she will be advised to write to the Chair.
On receipt of a written complaint the Clerk to the Council (except where the complaint is about his or her actions) or Chair to the Council (if the complaint relates to the Clerk) will seek to settle the complaint directly with the complainant. This will not be done without first notifying any person complained about and giving him or her the opportuntiy to comment. Efforts should be made to resolve the complaint at this stage.
The Clerk to the Council or Chair will report any compliant disposed of by direct action with the complainant to the next meeting of the council.
The Clerk or Chairman shall bring any written complaint which cannot be settled to the next meeting of the Council and the Clerk shall notify the complainant of the date on which the complaint will be considered and offer them the opportunity to explain the compliant to the Council orally.
Matters relating to Grievance or Disciplinary procedures that are taking or are likely to take place should be dealt with in accordance with Minster-on-Sea Parish Council’s grievance and disciplinary procedures.
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.
The Council may consider in the circumstances of any particular complaint whether to make any without liability award as compensation or provide any reasonable benefit to any person who may have suffered loss as a result of the Council’s maladministration. Any award may only be authorised by the Council after obtaining legal advice and advice from the Council’s auditor on the propriety of such an award.
As soon as possible after the decision has been made it (and in any event not later than ten days after the meeting) the complainant will be notified in writing of the decision and the nature of any action to be taken.
The Council may defer dealing with any complaint if it is of the opinion that issues arise on which further advice is necessary. The advice will be considered and the compliant dealt with at the next meeting after the advice has been received.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
Where someone feels very strongly that a decision of the Parish Council was unlawful they may apply to the courts for a judicial review of the Council’s decision.
An accusation of financial wrongdoing, where a complaint has been made to the council’s external auditor, aside from referring the matter to another body if required, the auditor will have the power to carry out such actions as refusing to sign off the accounts or producing a public interest report;
Investigations concerning councillors’ conduct which were previously undertaken by Standards for England will transfer to the local authority that referred the investigation. It will be for that local authority to arrange for the conclusion of the investigation.
Any matter that raises a suspicion of criminal wrongdoing can be referred to the Police.
If the Council carries out functions on behalf of another authority, the ombudsman may be involved if the matter is not resolved by the principal authority.
Complaints that the Council has not released information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 can be referred to the Information Commissioner.
TO CONTACT THE PARISH CLERK:
In writing; Mrs. Trish Codrington, Parish Clerk, Minster-on-Sea Parish Council Love Lane, Minster-on-Sea, Sheerness, Kent ME12 2LP
By telephone: (01795) 873831 Monday to Friday during office hours.
By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
TO CONTACT THE CHAIRMAN OR VICE-CHAIRMAN PLEASE TELEPHONE THEM ON THE NUMBERS LISTED BELOW;
Cllr Ken Ingleton (Chairman) (01795) 873709
Cllr Peter MacDonald (Vice-Chairman) (01795) 873116