Complaints FAQ

Complaints FAQ

What is a complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with the Council, its services or the actions of its staff.

Complaints are likely to fall into three main areas:

  1. We may have failed to do something that we should have done.
  2. We may have performed a service badly.
  3. We may have treated a customer badly, or discourteously.

The council takes the view that someone informing us that something

  • is not working (say, a street light) or
  • is a problem (say, an overgrowing tree, or a noisy neighbour)

is requesting for the council to do something and not making a complaint. The council has other arrangements for citizens and users of our services so that they can report things like these, and ask for action to be taken. However, quite clearly, if that person has to contact the council again because nothing has been done to repair the street light or to prune the tree, or because the action taken was ineffective, or slow, then it is a complaint.'

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What is not covered by the Tellus procedure?

The Tellus procedure has been developed to deal with complaints from local residents and other users of our services about the Council, its services and the actions of its staff.

It does not cover

  • complaints about local traders or other public utilities
  • complaints about noisy or troublesome neighbours
  • complaints about elected councillors (Standards for England provides an independent, national overview of how local authorities promote and improve the ethical behaviour of their members.)
  • complaints from Council employees about their treatment by the council as an employee

There are related but slightly different procedures for complaints about services for children and young people, and about social services established under Act of Parliament.  Complaints about these services made via the Tellus procedure will be forwarded to the service concerned and handled under those procedures.

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How can I make a complaint?

Complaints can be made to the council in a wide variety of ways. There is a form on the council website and in the council's Tellus leaflet.

Forms can be sent to the council, at the Civic Centre, Darwall Street, Walsall, WS1 1TP, or handed in to the First Stop Shop in the Civic Centre or to any council service point. Complaints do not need to be made on the form; you may choose to complain by telephone, textphone, letter, e-mail or in person.

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Is there information in other languages or formats?

The Tellus procedure has been designed to be as accessible as possible. The Tellus leaflet includes brief details which indicate that information on the procedure is available in other languages or formats on request.

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What information should I include when I make a complaint?

Please include as much information as possible including your name and address and if possible, other contact details including a telephone number or an e-mail address.

Please include as much detail as possible about what happened, when and where; including the names of anyone involved.  

If you have told the Council about it before, please give details including the names of people you have spoken to or contacted.

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How does the procedure work?

Once you have made your complaint to the council, you will receive an acknowledgement within 5 working days. This will say who is dealing with your complaint and what will happen next.

Normally, your complaint will be investigated by the service concerned and a full response will be sent to you within a further 15 working days. If your complaint raises complicated issues or involves several services, and therefore is likely to take more than 15 working days, we will let you know and advise when you can expect a reply.

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What if I am not happy with the council's response?

If you are not satisfied with the council's response, you can ask for your complaint to be considered by a senior manager in the service. For complaints about social services or children's services, you can ask for an independent review of the case.

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What does the local ombudsman do?

You can also ask the Local Government Ombudsman who is independent of the Council to investigate your complaint. Leaflets about the Ombudsman service are available at Council Offices or direct from The Local Government Ombudsman. Information is available via the council's web site (add link). The Ombudsman will normally only investigate a complaint once it has been investigated locally.

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Where can I make a complaint?

You can make your complaint to any council service point.

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How long will the council take to reply?

The council will reply as quickly as possible. The council will acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days from receipt, and will normally reply in full within a further 15 working days. You will be told if this is not possible.

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Do complaints make a difference?

Yes. Complaints about our services give us an opportunity to put things right where we may have provided a poor service.

Complaints also give us the chance to learn from our mistakes, by taking steps to change our services so that we do not repeat those mistakes. Effective use of complaints is a key part of the council's drive to improve our services and refine our standards so that they reflect our customers' expectations of those services and standards.

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How will the council use the information that I include in my complaint?

The council follows Data Protection Act principles - personal data that the Council receives as a complaint will be used by the council to respond to the issues that you raise with us.

The information may be used with other complaints - and without the personal details - to provide performance information to help the Council improve services. In some cases, where the council can only respond to the issues raised by speaking to those local organisations, information may be shared with other organisations to enable the Council to respond to specific issues raised.

Data will not be used for any other purposes apart from those set out above.

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