Council complaints up by a quarter

NHDC complaints have increased by more than 25 per cent

NHDC complaints have increased by more than 25 per cent - Credit: Archant

COMPLAINTS to a council have increased by more than 25 per cent in just one year, it has been revealed.

The number of complaints made to North Herts District Council (NHDC) over a six month period rocketed by 26.4 per cent, compared to the same period the year previously.

There were 179 complaints from April to September 2011 and 243 over the same amount of time in 2012.

Concerns about council contractors were also up, with John O’Conner grounds maintenance more than doubling its complaints. Veolia received 151 complaints, up from 108 in 2011, although the waste management operator also received double the compliments.

The figures are revealed in an overview and scruntiny report.

But, despite the large increase in grievances, officers ask councillors to note “the continued good performance”.

On the contractors’ figures, it adds: “The reason for the increase in complaints for John O’Conner Grounds Maintenance Ltd reflects the difficult growing season in 2012 and the number of days lost due to inclement weather.

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“Veolia’s particular increase in complaints can mainly be attributed to activities that took place in August which saw a significant number of bins not being collected due to contamination of the organic waste stream.”

Council compliments were also up, although by a significant amount less than complaints.

By far the best success story was the museums service, which received 393 compliments and no complaints at all.

Community development also did well, receiving 130 compliments and just one complaint.

Six cases were raised for the attention of the local government ombudsman, although no evidence was found of maladministration in any of those cases.

Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s portfolio holder for Housing and Environmental Health, said: “We encourage feedback from our customers and log the comments, compliments and complaints we receive. The council uses the information to help us to deliver high quality, value for money services and continue to improve the services we offer.

“The report highlighted an overall increase in all three elements of the procedure regarding the council’s contractors, with the biggest increase here in the amount of compliments received. This demonstrates the council and its contractors are working together to deliver high quality, customer focused services.

“Any complaints that relate to our contractors are monitored by the council and addressed with them, to ensure appropriate corrective action is taken.”