Council complaints process

J A Giggins made this Freedom of Information request to West Berkshire Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear West Berkshire Council,

I would like to request some information based on the following paragraph extracted from the minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 18th September 2012

http://decisionmaking.westberks.gov.uk/d...

"Councillor Vickers suggested that Members were not fully informed of the correct complaints procedures and suggested that it be the subject of a Member Development session, and subsequently the process be reviewed. David Lowe responded that a colleague would be briefing all Members on the complaints procedure shortly. The Chairman advised that a scrutiny review had been conducted in 2007; an ongoing complaints audit was taking place; and a complaints review group met every six months. David Lowe agreed to send a copy of the complaints procedure to all Members."

Please can you supply under the provisions of the FOI Act:

1 A copy of or link to all papers ( minutes, reports etc) relating to the 2007 scrutiny review.

2 Any documents relating to the initiation and scope of the 'ongoing' complaints audit, plus the audit report if now complete. If not complete I would like to know who it will be presented to and when.

3 Minutes of all 6 monthly complaints review group meetings held since the last scrutiny review in 2007.

4 Members briefing notes regarding the complaints process.

5 A link to the relevant sections of the Council's constitution/ scheme of delegation that delegates authority for complaint handling to Officers, with no Executive/ Councillor oversight.

Should you require any clarification of my request please do not hesitate to contact me via the whatdotheykknow.com website.

Many thanks.

Yours faithfully,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

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Suzanne Kenchington, West Berkshire Council

FoI/2012/689

 

Dear Mrs Giggins,

 

Request for information: Council complaints process

 

Thank you for your request received 26/10/2012. This has been forwarded to
the relevant service and we will seek to respond within twenty working
days.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Suzi Kenchington 

Information Support Officer

Strategic Support,

West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury, RG14 5LD

email:  [email address]

' 01635 519860 (external)      '  2860 (internal)      

P Do you really need to print this email?

 

 

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Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

1 Attachment

FoI/2012/689

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Request for information: Council complaints process

Some of the information you have requested is publicly available. You
have asked for:

1 A copy of or link to all papers ( minutes, reports etc) relating to
the 2007 scrutiny review.
The Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission (formerly the Overview &
Scrutiny Commission) meets publicly. Minutes and reports are published
here:

http://decisionmaking.westberks.gov.uk/i...
2012

5 A link to the relevant sections of the Council's constitution/scheme
of delegation that delegates authority for complaint handling to
Officers, with no Executive/ Councillor oversight.
This is included in Section 3 of part 13 of the Constitution:
http://decisionmaking.westberks.gov.uk/e...
9&RPID=879366&sch=doc&cat=13211&path=13197%2c13211

In addition you have requested:

4 Members briefing notes regarding the complaints process.
See attached guidance note.

You have also requested:

3 Minutes of all 6 monthly complaints review group meetings held since
the last scrutiny review in 2007.
I will discuss this request with the Scrutiny & Partnership Manager. The
Review Group was set up in 2009. The meetings discuss the operation of
the computerised database system, and the handling of individual
complaints, and are not public meetings. This information may be exempt.

2 Any documents relating to the initiation and scope of the 'ongoing'
complaints audit, plus the audit report if now complete. If not complete
I would like to know who it will be presented to and when.
This is being carried out by Internal Audit and your request for this
information has been passed to them.

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

Strategic Support

* West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury RG14
5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

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Dear Sue Broughton,

Many thanks for this quick partial response:

From the link you provided I think I have managed to locate the relevant Overview & Scrutiny Committee papers in November 2007 and the follow up in Decembee 2008, from which I have extracted the following paragraph:

2.7 Trends identified in the receipt and handling of complaints should be communicated to services to improve service delivery. Ongoing trends in the nature of complaints are now being identified by the Information Management Officer. There is at present an annual report on complaints, but quarterly reports will be implemented. Once the new tracking system is in place performance reports will be communicated to managers. The review also recommended a small group to meet bi-annually and review the complaints handling over the previous six months. Members of this group have been identified (Hilary Cole and Tony Vickers, with David Lowe and Sue Broughton) and the first meeting is being arranged for January 2009.

For clarification, I believe my request includes any papers held relating to the "small group" meetings. I appreciate that some redactions to these papers and others might be necessary, but would ask you, under your duty to advise and assist, to limit those redactions to those required by the DPA, and not apply a blanket refusal.

I would also appreciate copies of any reports issued on the complaints process including the managerial performance reports, redacted where necessary.

Many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

FoI/2012/689

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Request for information: Council complaints process

The quarterly reporting you have asked about is reported in the Yellow
Book, which is published here:
http://www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?a...

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

Strategic Support

* West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury RG14
5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

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Dear Sue Broughton,

I don't seem to be able to access the report. Is access restricted to Council staff? The page that you have supplied a link to says that the book is an internal management report..

I would be grateful if you could investigate.

Many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

Dear Mrs Giggins,

The report was there yesterday but appears to have been removed. I'm
checking with the officer concerned - it may be being updated.

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

Strategic Support

* West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury RG14
5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

FoI/2012/689

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Request for information: Council complaints process

I have established that the Yellow Book is an internal document but my
colleague has supplied, below, the reports on complaints for the past
two years:

Proportion of Stage 2 complaints responded to within 20 working days:

Q1 11/12: 3/4 = 75%
Q2 11/12: 8/9 = 89%
Q3 11/12: 11/11 = 100%
Q4 11/12: 13/20 = 65%
Y/E 11/12: 35/44 = 80%

Q1 12/13: 10/13 = 77%
Q2 12/13: 15/19 = 79%
YTD 12/13: 25/32 = 78%

Prior to this the data was compiled in a different way, and is not
comparable. Please advise me if you require earlier data.

I have also added this data to the PI page I maintain which you will
find here: http://www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?a...

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

Strategic Support

* West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury RG14
5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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Dear West Berkshire Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of West Berkshire Council's handling of my FOI request 'Council complaints process'.

I have already clarified the information that I require but you have neither supplied it, nor issued a refusal notice. If my request for a review is premature and you are still considering whether to supply the requested information then please accept my apologies and notify me accordingly.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/co...

Yours faithfully,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Thank you for your request for a review. I can confirm that this is
premature as we have not yet completed our response to your request. I
would remind you that we always include information on the S17(7) rights
of a requester when we complete a response. In addition your request is
not due for completion until 23rd November.

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

Strategic Support

* West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury RG14
5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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Dear Sue Broughton,

Many thanks for the clarification. I look forward to receiving the rest of the information promptly and no later than 23rd November.

Yours sincerely,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

16 Attachments

FoI/2012/689

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Request for information: Council complaints process

You have requested:

1 A copy of or link to all papers ( minutes, reports etc) relating to
the 2007 scrutiny review.

Already supplied (my email 1/11)

2 Any documents relating to the initiation and scope of the
'ongoing' complaints audit, plus the audit report if now complete. If
not complete I would like to know who it will be presented to and when.

I have attached a copy of the Terms of Reference for the Audit. This
audit is in progress at the moment. The final report will be a
management document so it will not, as a matter of routine, be presented
to a public committee. However, it can be released under FOI - although
the authority will need to remove any references to complaints which
identify or could identify specific individuals. You will see from the
Terms of Reference that it was hoped that a draft of the report would be
produced by July but owing to other work this has not yet been produced.
You may wish to request this at the start of next year.

The remaining documentation being considered are; individual complaints
which are exempt from provision under S40 of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000 or Regulation 13 of the Environmental Information Regulations
2004, (both of the exemption/exception are attached); and the Council's
Complaints Policy and Procedures, leaflets and advice, which are
available here: http://www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?a...

3 Minutes of all 6 monthly complaints review group meetings held
since the last scrutiny review in 2007. Ths was clarified in your email
of 2/11 as 'I believe my request includes any papers held relating to
the "small group" meetings. I appreciate that some redactions to these
papers and others might be necessary, but would ask you, under your duty
to advise and assist, to limit those redactions to those required by the
DPA, and not apply a blanket refusal.'

These documents are attached. There have been five meetings (there were
none in 2010 and only one in 2011). Personal data or information about
individual complaints has been redacted where this would identify
individuals or breach their privacy - again this is under the
exemption/exception quoted above. The Review Group also produced a
coporate guide to compensation which is attached. All other
documentation is represented by copies of the complaints under
discussion, which are exempt under the exemption/exception quoted above.

4 Members briefing notes regarding the complaints process.

Already supplied (my email 1/11)

5 A link to the relevant sections of the Council's
constitution/scheme of delegation that delegates authority for complaint
handling to Officers, with no Executive/ Councillor oversight.

Already supplied (my email 1/11)

In your email of 2/11 you have also requested:

Copies of any reports issued on the complaints process including the
managerial performance reports, redacted where necessary.

In my email of 9/11 I supplied the management reports for the past two
years (performance reports on the proportion of Stage 2 complaints
responded to within 20 working days) and explained that earlier reports
were differently calculated (earlier reports looked at response times to
Stage 1 complaints). I asked whether you also required this information
given that it is not comparable. Please advise me if you also require
this and I will obtain and supply it. There are no other managerial
performance reports made to the Services or Directorates - where trends
or issues arise these are discussed informally with Heads of Service at
the time.

Finally, the Local Government Ombudsman reports annually on the
Council's performance and these reports can be found here:
http://www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?a...
I have attached reports from earlier years back to 2007, as we only
publish the most recent reports.

This completes your request.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you may
ask for an internal review. You should contact David Lowe, Scrutiny &
Partnerships Manager, Strategic Support, Council Offices, Market Street,
Newbury RG14 5LD, email [email address] if you wish to request a
review. If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review,
you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for
a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.gov.uk


Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

Strategic Support

* West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury RG14
5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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Dear Sue Broughton,

Many thanks for this further information.

The minutes of the 2011 complaints review meeting are missing. I would be grateful if you could supply these as soon as possible.

Many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

Dear Mrs Giggins,

There were no minutes, just the Actions already supplied.

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

Strategic Support

* West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury RG14
5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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Dear West Berkshire Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of West Berkshire Council's handling of my FOI request 'Council complaints process'.

Whilst I would appreciate an independent review of the whole request, I would be particularly grateful if a further search could be made for the minutes of the 2011 meeting. I would also be grateful if the internal review could detail exactly how the searches were carried out. Ms Broughton seems quite categoric that no minutes for this meeting were produced, but it seems likely on the balance of probabilities that minutes/notes were taken, given that the previous meetings were minuted, even if the minutes were not formally typed up and distributed. It also seems probable that handwritten/draft notes would be retained by attendees until the next meeting. Have the officers and Councillors ho attended the meeting been asked whether they hold any relevant information?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/co...

Yours faithfully,

J A Giggins

Sue Broughton, West Berkshire Council

FoI/IR/2013/01

Dear Mrs Giggins,

Request for an internal review

Thank you for your request for an internal review, which I will pass to
Mr Lowe to consider. We will seek to respond to you within twenty
working days.

However, I would point out that I write the minutes of the Corporate
Complaints Review Group. In March 2011 we were in the middle of a
service relocation, and all that were written were action points.

Yours sincerely

Sue Broughton

Information Management Officer

* Strategic Support West Berkshire Council, Council Offices, Market
Street, Newbury RG14 5LD

Email: [West Berkshire Council request email]

01635 519747 (external) ' 2747 (internal)

You should be aware that all emails received and sent by this Council
are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and therefore may be
disclosed to a third party.

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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David Lowe, West Berkshire Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mrs Giggins,

 

Please find attached my review response on the handling of your request
for information about the Council’s complaints process.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

David Lowe
Scrutiny and Partnerships Manager
Strategic Support  West Berkshire Council  Market Street  Newbury 
Berkshire  RG14 5LD
01635 519817 | Ext 2817 | [1][email address]

[2]http://www.westberks.gov.uk/

 

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Dear David Lowe,

Many thanks for your response. It is of course disappointing that minutes of this particular meeting were not produced given that this was the meeting where you would have had the opportunity to inform Councillors that I had been classified as a 'persistent and prolific' complainant by raising matters of concern ( not complaints) with the Monitoring Officer. You would also have been able to correct the assertion that I had made 'numerous complaints'. I am not going to dispute that minutes were not produced and that you and Ms Broughton have not retained any notes, but I am going to challenge the fact that you have not asked the Councillors present whether they have retained any information from this meeting, because I was under the impression that the Information Commissioner had made several rulings that information held by Councillors in their executive capacity is subject to the Act. This is a point that I think the Commissioner needs to formally decide as It seems to be a recurring matter of dispute.

The only other remaining item is the audit report, which Ms Broughton tells me is still in draft format, but will be released to me as soon as it is finalised which I am assuming will be quite soon given that revised complaints procedures are due for 'Individual Executive' approval in March.

Yours sincerely,

J A Giggins

J A Giggins left an annotation ()

ICO guidelines regarding Councillors' correspondence are available here.

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...

J A Giggins left an annotation ()

Follow on request for the Audit report (as invited by Ms Broughton) available here:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...