NOTE: THE BLAENGWRACH COMMUNITY COUNCIL ONLY HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WELFARE HALL, WELFARE PARK (both situated in Heol Y Felin, Cwmgwrach, Neath) & GORFFWYSFA CEMETERY, PARISH ROAD, CWMGWRACH, NEATH (for Cemetery, see also Cemetery Guidelines on this website).
The Blaengwrach Community Council is committed to dealing effectively with any concerns or complaints you may have about our services. We aim to clarify any issues you are not sure about. If possible, we`ll put right any mistakes we may have made. We will provide any service you`re entitled to which we have failed to deliver. If we got something wrong, we`ll apologise and where possible we`ll try to put things right. We also aim to learn from any mistakes made & use the information we gain to improve our services.
WHEN TO USE THIS POLICY:
When you express your concerns or complaints to us, we will usually respond in the way we explain below. Sometimes, you might be concerned about matters that are NOT decided by us, FOR EXAMPLE: Street Lighting; Planning Applications; Crime in the Village, etc. and we will endeavour to advise you about how to make your concerns/complaints known in these cases.
Also, this policy DOES NOT APPLY if the matter relates to a Freedom of Information (FOI) (see Freedom of Information Policy on this website) or Data Protection Issues (DPA) (see Information & Data Protection Policy on this website). In these circumstances, you should contact the Clerk to the Council at the Welfare Hall, Heol y Felin, Cwmgwrach, Neath SA11 5TB; email: email@example.com; telephone: 07522085222.
HAVE YOU ASKED US YET?
If you are approaching us for a service for the first time, e.g. hire of the Welfare Hall or a New Plot (Cremation or Burial) at the Cemetery, then this policy DOES NOT APPLY. You should first give us a chance to respond to your request. If you make a request for a service and then are NOT happy with the response, you will be able to make your concern known as we describe below.
If possible, we believe it`s best to deal with things straight away rather than try to sort them out later. If you have a concern, raise it with the person you`re dealing with. He or she will try to resolve it for you there & then. If the member of staff, or Councillor, can`t help, they will explain why and you can ask them for further information.
HOW CAN YOU EXPRESS YOUR CONCERN/COMPLAINT FORMALLY?
You can express your concern/complaint in any of the following ways:
a) You can email the Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org;
b) You can telephone the Clerk on 07522085222;
c) You can write a letter to: The Blaengwrach Community Council, The Welfare Hall, Heol Y Felin, Cwmgwrach, Neath SA11 5TB;
NOTE: IN a & b ABOVE, YOU WILL BE SENT A CONCERN/COMPLAINT FORM (see example in Appendix A below) FOR YOU TO COMPLETE & RETURN. YOU MAY ALSO BE SENT THIS FORM IF ANY FURTHER INFORMATION IS REQUIRED FOLLOWING RECEIPT OF YOUR LETTER IN c) ABOVE:
Copies of this policy and the concern/complaint form can be made available in both English & Welsh;
DEALING WITH YOUR CONCERN/COMPLAINT:
a) We will formally acknowledge your concern/complaint within five (5) working days and let you know how we intend to deal with it;
b) We will ask you to tell us how you would like us to communicate with you and establish whether you have any particular requirements e.g. Large Print Letters/Communications etc.
c) We will deal with your concern/complaint in an open & honest way;
d) We will make sure that your dealings with us in the future DO NOT suffer just because you have expressed a concern or made a complaint;
Normally, we will only be able to look at your concern/complaint if you tell us within six (6) months. This is because it`s better to look at your concern/complaint while the issues are still fresh in everyone`s mind.
We may exceptionally be able to look at concerns/complaints which are brought to our attention later than stated above. However, you will have to give us strong reasons why you have NOT been able to bring them to our attention earlier and we will need to have sufficient information about the issue to allow us to consider it properly. (NOTE: IN ANY EVENT, REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE WILL NOT CONSIDER ANY CONCERNS/COMPLAINTS ABOUT MATTERS THAT TOOK PLACE MORE THAN THREE (3) YEARS AGO).
If you are expressing a concern/complaint on behalf of somebody else, we`ll need their agreement for you to act on their behalf.
WHAT IF THERE IS MORE THAN ONE BODY INVOLVED?
If the concern/complaint is about a body working on our behalf, e.g. repair contractors, you may wish to raise the matter informally with them first (NOTE: THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE WHY/HOW THEY BECAME THE PREFERRED CONTRACTOR OF THE COMMUNITY COUNCIL). However, if you want to express your concern/complaint formally, we will look into it ourselves and respond to you.
We will tell you who we asked to look into your concern/complaint. If it is straightforward, we`ll usually ask somebody from the Community Council to look into it and get back to you. If it is more serious, we may use someone from elsewhere e.g. a department of the Neath Port Talbot County Council, or in certain cases may have to appoint an independent investigator.
We will set out our understanding of your concern/complaint and ask you to confirm that we have understood it/them correctly. We`ll ask you to tell us what outcome you`re hoping for. The person who looks into the concern/complaint will usually need to see files etc. we may hold relevant to your concern/complaint. However, if you do not wish this to happen, it`s important that you tell us.
If there is a simple solution to the problem, we will ask you if you are happy to accept this. For example, if you have asked for a service and we see straight away that you should have had it, we will offer to provide the service rather than investigate further. Alternatively, if we are unable to provide you with the service for any reason we will let you know why we are unable to provide it. In either of the above cases, we WILL NOT PRODUCE A REPORT.
We will aim to resolve concerns/complaints as quickly as possible and expect to deal with the vast majority within twenty (20) working days. If your complaint is more complex, we will:
a) let you know within the twenty(20) days why we think it may take longer to investigate;
b) tell you how long we expect it to take;
c) let you know where we have reached with the investigation; &
d) give you regular updates, including telling you whether any developments might change our original estimate.
The person who is investigating your concern/complaint will aim first to establish the facts. The extent of this investigation will depend on how complex and how serious the issue(s) you have raised are. In complex cases we will draw up an investigation plan.
In some instances, we may ask to meet you to discuss your concern/complaint. Occasionally, we may suggest mediation or another method to try and resolve disputes.
We`ll look at relevant evidence. This could include files, notes of conversations, letters, emails, minutes or whatever else may be relevant to your particular concern/complaint. If necessary, we`ll talk to the staff or others involved and look at our policies/guidelines and any other legal entitlement and guidance.
If we formally investigate your complaint, we will let you know what we have found in keeping with your preferred form of communication. This could be by letter or email, for example. If necessary, we will produce a longer report. We`ll explain how and why we came to our conclusions.
If we find that we have got it wrong, we`ll tell you what and why it happened. We`ll show you how the mistake affected you.
If we find there is a fault in our systems or the way we do things, we`ll tell you what it is and how we plan to change things to stop it happening again.
If we got it wrong, we will apologise.
PUTTING THINGS RIGHT:
If we didn`t provide you a service you should have had, we`ll aim to provide it if that`s possible. If we didn`t do something well, we`ll aim to put it right. If you have “lost out” as a result of a mistake on our part, we`ll try to put you back in the position you would have been in if we`d got it right.
If you had to pay for a service yourself, when you should have had that service from us, we will usually aim to make good what you have lost.
If we do not succeed in resolving your complaint, you may complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. The Ombudsman is independent of ALL Government bodies and can look into your complaint if you believe that you personally, or the person on whose behalf you are complaining:
a) have been treated unfairly or received a bad service through some failure on the part of the body providing it;
b) have been disadvantaged personally by a service failure or have been treated unfairly.
The Ombudsman expects you to bring your concerns to our attention first and to give us a chance to put things right. You can contact the Ombudsman by:
a) Telephone: 0300 790 0203 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. & 1.30 p.m. to 4 p.m.);
b) email: ask@ombudsman-wales;
c) the website: www.ombudsman-wales;
d) by writing to: The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, 1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae, Pencoed, Bridgend CF35 5LJ.
There are also other organisations that consider complaints. For example, the Welsh Language Board about services in Welsh. We can advise you about such organisations.
We take you concerns and complaints seriously and try to learn from any mistakes we`ve made. The Council considers a summary of all complaints quarterly as well as details of any serious complaints. This Council also considers any response to complaints at least twice a year.
Where there is a need for change, we will develop an action plan setting out what we will do, who will do it, and when we plan to do it. We will let you know when changes we have promised have been made.
WHAT IF I NEED HELP?
All staff will aim to make your complaints known to the Council. If you need extra assistance, we will try and put you in touch with someone who can help. For example;
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council;
The Ward County Councillor (for matters relating to services etc. looked after by the Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council);
Age Connect, Neath Port Talbot;
who may be able to assist you further.
You can also use this concerns & complaints policy if you are someone under the age of eighteen (18). If you need help, you can speak to someone on the Meic Cymru Helpline: Freephone 08088 8023456, text: 84001 or online chat at www.meiccymru.org or contact the Children`s Commissioner for Wales, whose details are:
Freephone: 0808 801 1000;
Telephone: 01792 765600;
Address: The Children`s Commissioner for Wales, Oystermouth House, Phoenix Way, Llansamlet, Swansea SA7 9FS
WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU:
In times of trouble or distress, some people may act out of character. There may be upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a concern or complaint. We do not view this behaviour as unacceptable just because someone is forceful and determined.
We believe that all complainants have the right to be heard, understood and respected. HOWEVER, WE ALSO CONSIDER THAT THE COUNCILLORS AND COUNCIL STAFF HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS. WE, THEREFORE, EXPECT YOU TO BE POLITE AND COURTEOUS IN YOUR DEALINGS WITH US. WE WILL NOT TOLERATE AGGRESSIVE OR ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR, UNREASONABLE DEMANDS OR UNREASONABLE PERSISTANCE.
IF AS STATED ABOVE THE COMPLAINANT SHOWS ANY OF THESE TRAITS/ACTIONS ETC. THEN THE COUNCIL RESERVE THE RIGHT TO WRITE TO THAT/THOSE PERSONS STATING THAT NO FURTHER ACTION WILL BE TAKEN WITH REGARDS TO THEIR COMPLAINT AT THIS TIME.
THEY WILL BE REQUESTED, THAT IF THEY SO WISH, TO RESUBMIT THE COMPLAINT IF/WHEN THEY ATRE ABLE TO DO SO WITHOUT EXHIBITING ANY OF THE ABOVE-MENTIONED TRAITS OR ACTIONS.
APPENDIX A – Example of the Council`s Concern/Complaint form;
Section A – Your Details:
Surname; Forename(s); Title (Mr, Mrs, Dr, Ms, Rev, etc.) ;
Full address including postcode;
Your email address;
Your Mobile and home telephone numbers;
Your preferred method of contact.
Section B – Complaining on someone else`s behalf:
Their name in full and title (see above);
Their full address including postcode;
What is your relationship to them?
Why are you making the complaint on their behalf;
Section C – “Please supply full details of the complaint”
Section D – “Please return this form to: The Clerk, Blaengwrach Community Council, The Welfare Hall, Heol y Felin, Cwmgwrach, Neath SA11 5TB; email: blaengwrach.clerk@ gmail.com
PLEASE NOTE; YOU CAN OBTAIN THE COUNCIL`S CONCERN/COMPLAINT FORM BY CONTACTING THE CLERK TO THE COUNCIL.