Complaints Procedure

Introduction

  • The Building Control Department is committed to the provision of quality public services in accordance with the needs and expectations of its customers.
  • The department recognises the value of customer opinion and its contribution to the processes of policy formulation and service delivery.
  • In support of this principle, and until such time that the council implements a corporate complaints procedure, the department has implemented and will maintain this customer complaint system.

Objectives

The Department aims:

  • to provide the department's customers with the best possible service.
  • to resolve complaints immediately.
  • to provide the department's customers with an effective and efficient means of resolving dissatisfaction with the services we provide.
  • to provide a clear procedure for dealing with complaints.
  • to communicate effectively with a complainant throughout the complaints procedures.
  • to review complaints procedures with a view to learning from our mistakes and ascertaining ways to improve our services to meet the needs of the customers.
  • to provide a way of rectifying injustice whenever possible.
  • to provide a way of monitoring information on customer complaints and ways of reviewing the service.

Defining a complaint

A complaint is simply defined as follows:

"An expression of dissatisfaction with the service which requires a response."

Scope of the complaints procedures

The complaints procedures is available to all the Department’s customers or anyone acting on their behalf. The Department has established an effective complaints procedure which:

  • is easily accessible and advertised widely
  • is easy to understand and use
  • operates promptly within a specific timetable established to deal with complaints
  • ensures that the complainant is kept informed at all times about what is happening to their complaint
  • is fair, with a full and unbiased enquiry
  • is confidential, in order to ensure fairness to the complainants and staff
  • produces information which will help us to learn how to improve the service
  • ensures that it is possible to take relevant steps to eradicate shortcomings in the service

How to make a complaint

Customers/individuals may submit a complaint in person to one of the Council's officers, by phone, in writing or through any of the Council's elected members.

To download a Complaints Form click here

Responding to complaints

The Department has a specific procedure to deal with customer complaints and as part of that procedure it is noted that the Department will acknowledge the receipt of complaints within 5 working days and respond to the complaint in full within 15 working days. Where it will not be possible to respond in full within this period, due to the need to conduct internal enquiries, the complainant should be informed of that situation within 15 days, and every 5 days thereafter, and the performance will be monitored on a regular basis.
In addition, the Department aims to resolve 90% of complaints received within these 15 working days.

Satisfying a complainant

If it is not possible to resolve a complaint at the point of contact the matter will be referred directly to the attention of the Department’s Director or Assistant Director in order that he/she may review the situation.

If a complainant continues to be dissatisfied following the response, the complaint will be considered by the Clerk and Chief Executive within a further 15 day period. The contact address for the Clerk and Chief Executive is Newry & Mourne District Council, O’Hagan House, Monaghan Row, Newry, or alternatively the telephone number is (028) 3031 3031.

In cases where the complainant continues to be dissatisfied he/she will be informed of his/her right to refer the complaint to the attention of the Local Government Ombudsman. The contact address for the Local Government Ombudsman is The Ombudsman, Freepost, Belfast, BT1 6BR, or alternatively the telephone number is 0800 34 34 24 (freephone number) and the email address is ombudsman@ni-ombudsman.org.uk

Monitoring and reviewing

The Department's complaints register will be reviewed quarterly. The results of these reviews will be available to our customers.

In addition, the Director or Assistant Director, having dealt with a complaint, will be responsible for asking the complainant for his/her opinion of the way with which the complaint was dealt with.

A senior officer in the Department will be accountable to the Director for monitoring the efficiency of the system and providing quarterly reports assessing the Department’s performance.

The Councillors receive regular reports from the Director in respect of complaints.

The complaints procedure will be reviewed again in April 2014.