Venue: Town Hall Main Road Romford
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The Minutes of the meeting held on 23 February 2016 were agreed as being a true record and signed by the Chairman.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 23 February 2016 were accepted and signed by the Chairman.
Oral report and presentation
Members were provided with a presentation from the Senior Complaint and Investigation Officer. The number of complaints dealt with at Stage One of the Corporate Complaints process for the year to 31 March was 2,328 and the resolution rate for completion in time was 89%. 62 complaints were escalated to Stage Two and 89% of these were completed within time. Only two complaints proceeded to Stage Three and both (100%) were dealt with within time.
The Committee was provided with a number of charts with data showing how these statistics were apportioned across the Council’s services and these are appended to the Minute.
In addition, the Senior Complaint and Investigation Manager provided a summary of information relating to enquiries made by the Local Government and Housing Ombudsmen. In summary, there were 30 cases during the year of which the Ombudsmen reached decisions in 23 cases (12 of these were closed after initial enquiries), six were still awaiting a decision, one case was with the service for it to respond and nine related to matters which had already been considered and decided on within the Corporate Complaints process.
Members expressed their satisfaction with the way in which the new process appeared to be working and were informed that audits had revealed areas where the process could be further improved and that there would be a review in October.
In response to a question from a member, the Head of Regulatory Services explained that the Council needed to provide clearer information to residents in respect of service level agreements (SLAs) and what the Council could and could not deliver. He cited issues around bus-stops which were often a cause of complaint but which the Council could do nothing about, the responsible body being Transport for London. He stated that it would be a good step forward if, at the first contact, Council staff could ensure that realistic expectations were given. If the SLA was 15 days, this needed to be made clear. If the matter was not one the Council could address, then this needed to be clearly stated and the complainant sign-posted to the appropriate agency.
In response to a further observation by a Member, the Head of Service stated that there were enhancements to the process which were being considered which were designed to help councillors manage requests from complainants by providing them with web links so that they could more effectively deal with complainants when they were first contacted. This was designed to forestall any escalation wherever possible.
The Committee thanked the Senior Complaint and Investigation Officer for her presentation.
Oral report and presentation
The Committee was provided with a presentation from the Executive Support Manager concerning MP and Member enquiries throughout the year 2015-16.
Members were informed that during the year a total of 2,613 enquiries had been received. Of those, 2,367 (91%) had been responded to and closed within the 15 working days allowed. It was explained that one persistent difficulty was the overlap between enquiries and complaints, but this was slowly being addressed. Members were provided with a range of statistical information which is appended to this Minute.
One area which skewed the response time figures for services such as Social Care and Housing was the fact that there was a good deal of input from third-party or external providers and, on occasion, it could be difficult to obtain the information requested within the Corporate timeframe. Attempts continued to be made to reduce these figures.
The Committee thanked the Executive Support Manager for her presentation.