Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nasty Complaints Procedure

I'm indebted to regular contributor Walter Mitty for highlighting an interesting snippet from last week's cabinet meeting at our beloved Thanet Council.

In between congratulating themselves on what a splendid job they're doing and scoffing all the buns, the Duffers debated a new policy on 'unreasonably persistent and/or vexatious complaints'. Now, of course, that all sounds incredibly worthy and dull, so let me paraphrase it for you. Basically it's an Anti-Whingers Charter. The upshot is, if you happen to get the hump about your street looking like the Gaza Strip and complain every week that it hasn't been swept, or if you think funds are being misappropriated and pop in a Freedom of Information request every other fortnight, you could now be put on a list and legitimately be ignored, or worse, deemed mentally ill.

Not, of course, that there's anything to complain about in the first place, I hasten to add! No, according to the latest Audit Commission report on TDC, which will be presented to the Uranians next week, they've been classified 'fair'. Which is, er, one up from 'weak' and two down from 'excellent'. The Audit Commission seemed particularly impressed by the claimed user satisfaction with Margate Gateway ('Library' in old money), which goes to prove the old adage that if you do the same survey in an infinite number of ways you're almost bound to end up with the results you want in the end.

The chaps from the commission also found 'improved satisfaction with street cleaning'. Really? Well here's something I found on Victoria Parade this afternoon which made me, and presumably the two coachloads of tourists who were parked up nearby, feel less than 'satisfied':


Anonymous said...

If, ECR you havent been a victim of a persistant complainant like others you will be glad of such a policy. As it is at present a member of the public can complain ad fintum about the same things and TDC have to investigate - this is trying to shut them up. We know of one such family who hope to be grateful for such a policy!

Anonymous said...

sorry should have read "you have been" slip of the keys!

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention at great expense to taxpayers a persistant complainant up to now has been able to make sure taxpayers money is wasted on all the unneccessary investigations

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, you are dear thing to put the tax payers money in this pot of vexatious/questionable issues.

Now run along their dear and put the case of the overspend at the Turner centre and the other misuses of public money by KCC and TDC at the forefront of vexatious questions - and then and only then tell us about vexatious and questionable fact I question your vexatious ethics by posting this, as clearly you are either (a) A Cllr or (b) A Council official now be a good dear and shut up ayer face.

Anonymous said...

Certainly not a councillor or employee just a member of the public victim of another's grudge at tax payers expense. Stop your patronising!

Anonymous said...

I have complained repeatedly about an abandoned car behind the Planes of Waterloo for the last year and nothing has been done about it.

The last car abandoned on that spot was torched by the local yuff.

TDC claim it is KCC's responsibility. KCC claim it is TDC's.

It's a minor irritant but it demonstrates both council's attitude towards Ramsgate.

Anonymous said...

There is a very thin divide between the (rightful) blocking of repetitive and truly vexatious complaints and silencing appropriate democratic questioning and challenge.

What worries me is that this is almost the same language used by local bloggers from the political right - such as Tory Councillors Moores, Gregory, and (in the past) Cameron - towards those who disagree with them politically.

You have had your social worth and your mental health questioned by these people, ECR, and so have many others. Who can forget "has he taken his medication", "are his anorak strings too tight", "get a life", "you are a low achiever" and the other right-wing insults. Perish the thought they should ever be asked to represent the interests of a constituent with real psychiatric problems; they would probably throw them out of the door.

Can they be trusted to introduce this policy fairly and without bias? I think not.

Anonymous said...

Certainly not a right wing councillor just a local resident been on the receiving end of a vexicious complainant with connections and a grudge! Anyway of silence would be appreciated, it is a complete waste of taxpayers money !No more illumination needed!

Anonymous said...

"As it is at present a member of the public can complain ad fintum about the same things and TDC have to investigate.."

You must be a Councillor or an officer. In my experience TDC never investigates anything they don't want to investigate. They are obstructive and uncooperative in the extreme. Unfortunately, they've been getting away with this rubbish for years. Why do you think that GOSE, KCC or the Ombudsman hasn't got involved in sorting things out before now? It's because TDC keeps telling them that all of the complaints are coming from a minority of troublemakers. The only official body that hasn't fallen for this cr*p is the Information Commissioner.

Anonymous said...

have you never thought that a taxpayer can complain about another to the council ad finitum and then it has to be investigated if it covers matters which the council have jurisdiction over?- that is the slance i AM NOT A COUNCIL EMPLOYEE or COUNCILLOR just a victim of a complainant that they cant presently legally shut up - am not going to go into anymore details. THEY DEFINATELY NEED A VEXACIOUS COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE!

Anonymous said...

Good idea. As long as TDC concede That can be cited as the grounds for any and all complaints they ignore.

That would be very useful to the more tenacious complainant because it would provide a TDC position to cite to the Courts.

Alongside that the opportunist vexatious complainer would be tested whether he/she has the tenacity to take the matter to law.

IE TDC you adopt the policy but with it you TDC give up ever again adopting silence in response to complaint and call for inquiry.

Anonymous said...

Sorry mate but TDC is elected to take decisions on our behalf. What is more, they are authorised to tax us. With this right comes the responsibility to spend the money properly.

No taxpayer should be forced to go to court to hold the Council to account. That's just silly and it would be viewed as a waste of court time. Indeed, I can't see the court looking favourably on a Council which has refused to set up a proper system to deal with complaints made against it.

This is just an example of TDC trying to avoid scrutiny of its actions and trying to avoid accountability. This is not the response we require from a Council that has been rated as one of the worst in the country. We require a committment to substantial and significant improvements, and a determination to drive down the levels of complaints, by improving the services provided to local taxpayers.

The introduction of an "la la la I'm not listening" policy towards complaints appears to be an admission that TDC has no intention of trying to do better.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it would be quite a good thing if TDC introduced this policy. At the moment you have to go through the Council's own complaints procedure before you can escalate things. This is a tortuous process and takes forever. Most people give up or lose the will to live. No wonder they're vexatious. If you try to bypass TDC it comes bouncing back because you haven't gone through the process.

If TDC refuse to deal with the complaint it can go straight to the Ombudsman, GOSE, the Audit Commission, the Information Commissioner or to any one of the other official bodies that have to oversee the Council. They will have to deal with the complaint itself, rather than doing their usual act of fannying about trying to decide whether the Council dealt appropriately with the complaint. It will be clear. The Council has not and will not deal with the complaint. I wonder how long these other bodies will put up with doing the Council's job for them?

Anonymous said...

Because of this "Everything Goes" attitude of this Government most people do not care about anything or anyone any more, they have no respect and drop litter everywhere, there should be far more fines given to people and more police patrolling the streets giving out tickets.
Bring back law and order to this Country before it is too late