Complaints can only be accepted if they relate to a member’s behaviour whilst:
- they are acting, or
- giving the impression that they are acting
in their official capacity.
Complaints will be rejected if they:
- appear to be against a member acting in their private capacity
- are against the council as a whole as this is outside of these procedures
- are about clerks to town parish or city councils
To help the Monitoring Officer make an initial assessment of your complaint please make sure you have:
- included your contact details. This is in case we need clarification or explanation on to your complaint
- identified by name the councillor(s) you are making a complaint about and the name of the council of which the councillor is a member. Identify from the tick box list in the form the relevant areas of the Code you think might apply to your complaint
- explained the circumstances and nature of the complaint in detail. You need to include whether you think the councillor was acting in an official capacity and, if so, why you think that. If you are complaining about more than one councillor, you need to set out which part of your complaint relates to which councillor. You need to give us as much information as possible to inform our decision on your complaint. You need to prove by that information how the Councillor breached each of the areas of the Code you have identified.
- supplied links to or copies of any documentation relevant to your complaint.
- supplied copies of postings if your complaint relates to comments made on a social media site. Council policy in relation to use of the internet limits officers’ ability to access social media sites.
- identified whether there are any witnesses or not, and if so, their names and contact details if you know them. It would be helpful if you could get the consent of anyone so identified to being a witness in support of your complaint.
- indicated whether you have complained about this issue before and, if so, to whom and the outcome
- completed the section relating to confidentiality or marked it ‘N/A’
We believe it is fair that councillors who are complained about have a right to know who has made a complaint about them. Also that they are provided with the details of the complaint so that they may respond to the complaint.
The complainant’s address or other contact details will not be passed to the councillor against whom the complaint has been made. The Councillor is referred to as the ‘subject member’.
If you do not want us to disclose your identity to the subject member you may request confidentially in line with section 3, below.
Please complete the section of the form marked ‘Confidentiality’ if you have serious concerns:
- about your identity being released
- details of your complaint being released
We are unlikely to withhold your identity or the details of your complaint. Unless we consider that you have demonstrated that it is appropriate to do so. Any request for confidentiality will be considered by the Council’s Monitoring Officer or his nominee.
Each request for confidentially will be considered on its own merits. In determining such a request the following will be considered:
- whether you reasonably believe that you, or those connected with you, will be at risk of harm if your identity is disclosed;
- that you are reasonably concerned about the consequences to your employment. Or those connected to you, if your identity is disclosed;
- that you suffer, or somebody closely connected to you suffers, from a medical condition. There is also evidence of medical risks associated with your identity being disclosed. Or confirmation from an appropriate medical professional that that is the case;
- the public interest in proceeding with the complaint may outweigh the complainant’s wish to have their identity withheld.
Requests for confidentiality will not automatically be granted. Your request will be considered alongside the substance of your complaint.
If your request is not granted we will usually allow you the option of withdrawing your complaint.
If confidentiality is granted the subject member will be advised of that fact and the reasons. But not so as to indirectly disclose the complainant’s identity.
We may decide that it is in the public interest to take appropriate action on the complaint. This is in exceptional circumstances, where the matter complained about is of a serious nature.
You must submit your complaint in writing and this includes fax and electronic submissions. Details are at the foot of the complaint form.
We are unlikely to process complaints that are not received in accordance with our requirements.
If you have a disability that prevents you from or makes it difficult for you to submit your complaint in writing we will assist you. We can also assist if English is not your first language.
We filter all complaints when they are received. We tell the you if we are rejecting your complaint or assessing your complaint. This will normally happen within 10 working days.
We will aim to assess your complaint quickly and will keep you advised of the timescales as the matter progresses.
We will notify you of the decision with 5 working days of the assessment of the complaint.
We explain the steps in the assessment process in more detail in the procedure.
The following decisions may result from the assessment and determination of a complaint:
- that the complaint should not proceed beyond the initial filter stage
- no breach of the Code has been found and no further action will be taken
- no finding as to whether there has been a breach of the Code but that action other than an investigation is appropriate
- finding no breach of the Code
- finding a breach of the Code without an investigation and impose no sanction
- finding a breach of the Code without an investigation and impose a sanction
- referral for investigation to determine whether there has been a breach of the Code. If so, the seriousness of the breach
- a potential offence under the Localism Act 2011 may have been committed. An investigation, by the police where appropriate, should to be conducted. This is to determine whether the subject member should be prosecuted.
- in some circumstances a complaint may result in training for the subject member or the whole Council.
We will send the decision to the subject member and (if applicable) their Council's Clerk within 5 days of the assessment. We will publish the decision on our website shortly after.