Complaining Gets Easier In Stoke-on-Trent

From 1 April, the length of time taken to investigate a complaint made to Stoke-on-Trent City Council will be reduced, and a new online system will be in place allowing members of the public to track their complaint after it has been made.

The changes being made to the current system are:

    * The complaints procedure will now have only two stages
    * Stage one will be investigated by the manager of the service involved and have a 10 working day deadline for completion.
    * If the complainant wants the investigation to be taken further, stage two will be coordinated by the complaint investigation officer and the relevant head of service. This will have a 20 day deadline for completion.
    * Changes are also going to be made to the way customers log their feedback. A new online form means that customers who choose to use it will be given a reference number instantly and will then be able to track their feedback through the system. This new system is currently being installed and will go live on 1 April. People can still complain in the traditional way via post, e-mail or phone.
    * People will see a quicker response to their complaint
    * New training is being provided to investigating officers to ensure a thorough investigation takes place in the first instance.
    * The complaints team name will change to Customer Feedback Team.
    * Learning from complaints will be more closely monitored and decisions from the new Customer Learning and Improvement Panel will help make improvements.

Staff will undergo training ensuring they learn from each complaint made and that they make improvements to their service.

Chief Executive John van de Laarschot said, ‘It is important people know how to tell us if we can improve a service, and also that they know the status of their complaint once it has been registered. We want to make sure that people receive the best possible service from the city council at all times, but if we do make mistakes and people have cause to complain, they need to know it is being dealt with quickly and efficiently to get things right.’

Have you had experience of the council complaints procedure, good or bad? Let us know in the comments below.

Full Council Report – Ibbs, Dimensions and the Withdrawn Motion!

One of the most interesting topics on Thursday’s full council meeting was the motion tabled By Cllr Dave Conway.

The motion had called for the following:

“That this Council resolves that an inquiry be established into the conduct of the internal investigation of the proposed closure of the splash pool at Dimensions Leisure Centre, Burslem, with the following remit:

·Ensuring that all elected members have been, and will in future be, treated fairly and properly in relation to this and similar matters; and

·Establishing a formal process to ensure fairness and openness in all dealings with elected members, such process to be incorporated in the Local Code Governing Relations between Elected Members and Council Employees set out in the City Council’s Constitution.”

When the agenda reached this item however, the motion was withdrawn by Cllr Conway and with the permission of the seconder, Cllr Ann James.

The reason for the withdrawal of the motion was because Cllr Ibbs had been advised that the quickest way of reaching a conclusion in this matter was for the new Chief Executive to undertake an independent inquiry into the conduct of the council and it’s officers into the circumstances which led to the arrest of Cllr Ibbs following a complaint that he made in relation to the proposed closure of the Dimensions Leisure Centre.

Listen to the Audio Interview with Cllr Roger Ibbs where he gives us his reasons for making a formal complaint against an officer of the City Council.