Review Committee and a lack of Complaints, or, when is a complaint a Complaint.

The recent Review Committee meeting, which was held on 7 July and chaired by Conservative Councillor Dave Sperring in the absence of the actual Chairman and Conservative appointee Cllr Gibson, looked at an item suggested by last years committee, the Complaints process at the Council.

A summary of the complaints process was given by an Officer who then faced questioning by the committee members; the Portfolio Holder, who was appointed after the May elections, did not feel they were able to contribute much as they were new.

There were general questions which were around the workings of the procedure and recording of complaints.  It appears that complaints are only complaints if the complainant asks to go through the formal complaints procedure.  It is possible for someone to complain about something, such as a failure to collect a bin, or a failure to return phone calls, but it will not be called a complaint.  This explains the relatively low level of Complaints received by the Council, they do not regard certain complaints as Complaints.

In addition the Council record Compliments and Comments.  A Compliment is a decision made by an Officer with no reference to any measurable criteria so a complaint which does not give rise to a formal Complaint can lead to an Officer getting a Compliment (if they deal with it quickly and efficiently), very surreal, and possibly only something that could happen within a Council.

At the end it was decided to note the report and invite the Officer and Portfolio Holder back in six months after they have completed a Service Review.

Also we looked at the Community Safety Partnership (CSP), which is a group of Councillors, Officers and other Statutory Bodies (even the Police) who look at areas of crime and disorder which are considered a problem in Rochford.

Some funding is given for this, about £14k which is spent on commissioning groups or organisations to provide events which will hopefully get to those people causing the problems, or who will be causing the problems in a few years, and by this intervention hope that they don’t.

A project on drug and Alcohol abuse could be linked with a football course for instance, or maybe relationship training included with an aerobics class or maybe a boxing course.  This is also a method used by the Youth Strategy Group and I requested that they look at these things together and possibly pool resources to be more effective as it appears they are often looking at the same issues.

Anyway the CSP will come back to the review Committee in about three months and we will get some figures on how they have done.  We will see if joined up Government can work.

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