Complaints

COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE


INTRODUCTION

Louth County Council is committed to providing an efficient and courteous service to all our customers. However, sometimes things do go wrong.

If you have a problem or are unhappy with any aspect of our service, we want to know about it. When we have made a mistake, or are otherwise at fault, we will apologise, do what we can to remedy the situation at the earliest opportunity and where appropriate, take whatever measures are necessary to prevent a similar situation happening again. This procedure may be used not only to make a complaint, but also to make a comment or suggestion on council services.

THE ORGANISATION

There are 5 Directorates in Louth County Council, each headed up by a Director of Services, and they are:

  • Corporate and Emergency Services
  • Planning, Infrastructure, Economic Development
  • Operations
  • Housing and Quality of Life
  • Finance and Water Services

All senior members of staff at or above Grade VII or analogous are designated as Complaints Officers within each directorate. They have responsibility for handling and resolving complaints received which relate to the area in question.  They have the authority to alter/nullify the original decision made in the case and to award redress in appropriate circumstances, subject to limits outlined by the Chief Executive.

DO I NEED TO COMPLAIN?

There is a difference between making a complaint and reporting a fault.  For example, notifying the Council of a pothole is reporting a fault.  This only becomes a complaint if the remedial action promised is not carried out.

A complaint is only necessary when you are not satisfied with the service provided by the Council.  This can be in relation to the way the service is delivered or failure to deliver the service to which you believe you are entitled.

WHAT IS THE COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE?

Louth County Council have put in place a simple three-stage procedure for dealing with complaints.

Stage 1: Discuss at the point of service - The people who can best deal with a complaint are those who provide the service. All staff will take responsibility for dealing with a complaint. Mistakes and misunderstandings are usually sorted out quickly and efficiently at this stage.

For clarity this discussion should take place with staff from the section which handles your service issue, e.g. if it is a Housing complaint it should be directly discussed with staff from Housing, if it is a planning issue it should be directly discussed with planning and so on.  Issues can be logged by Customer Services on our Call Management System and referred to the relevant section for direct response and action. 

Stage 2: Make a formal complaint - If you are unhappy with the outcome of Stage 1, you can complete and send either an email or the complaint form to Corporate Services who will acknowledge your complaint within 3 working days and refer it to the relevant Complaints Officer who will fully investigate the matter.  The Complaints Officer will respond to your complaint within 15 working days of making the complaint.  If they are unable to do so within that timeframe they will contact you with an expected date for a decision to be made.

Stage 3: Seek an Appeal of the decision made by the Complaints Officer –

If you are unhappy with the outcome of Stage 2, you can complete and send the complaint form to Corporate Services who will acknowledge your appeal within 3 working days and refer it to the relevant Director of Services who will examine your initial complaint along with the response given and the subsequent appeal.

The Director of Service will endeavour to issue a decision or update directly to you within four working weeks of appeal date.  A decision at this point will be regarded as a final response from the Council.

HOW DO I COMPLAIN?

All complaints received must be in writing or email. All written complaints must be signed. Staff will provide assistance with the assurance that it will be treated sensitively and confidentially as far as possible. Complaints forms to facilitate the public when making a complaint are available in all our public offices, libraries and by clicking here

Emailed complaints should be sent to complaints@louthcoco.ie and contain the following information:

  •  Your contact details including full address, email and phone number,
  •  The Person/Section you had previously contacted to resolve your issue,
  •  The nature of your complaint – this should be as detailed as possible to allow for full investigation and response, and include dates and timeframes if pertinent.

Louth County Council reserves the right to use the most expedient method of response to your complaint either by email or letter, and you may be contacted by phone on matters of clarity.

Q. Do I use this procedure for all complaints?

A. No

Not all complaints are appropriate to this procedure.

These are as follows:-

  • Occasions where a statutory right of appeal already exists (e.g. planning matters, traffic fines etc.).  For parking fines, please email info@louthcoco.ie
  • Routine requests for services that are not subject to formal complaint should be addressed in the first instance to the relevant section of the local authority.

All complaints/appeal requests should be emailed to complaints@louthcoco.ie or posted to;

Complaints

Corporate Services

Louth County Council

County Hall

Millennium Centre

St. Alphonsus Road

Dundalk

Co. Louth

A91 KFW6

Our staff will be glad to assist and advise you on the correct procedure to use.

THE OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

We hope that we will be able to resolve your complaint satisfactorily.  However, If you remain unhappy with our response then you can refer your complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman is fair, independent and free to use. 

The Ombudsman will ask you for details of your complaint and a copy of our final response to your complaint.  The best way to contact the Ombudsman is by:

Clicking on the "Make a Complaint" link at www.ombudsman.ie

Writing to:

Office of the Ombudsman

6 Earlsfort Terrace

Dublin 2

D02 W773

Calling the Ombudsman on 01 6395600 if you have any queries or if you need help making your complaint.

Where correspondence issues from the Ombudsman to Louth County Council, this will be acknowledged within 3 days by Corporate Services and the correspondence sent to the relevant Director of Service who issued the final response from the Council , for review and timely response directly to the Ombudsman.

GDPR

Please note by making complaint to the Council you are consenting to the Complaints Procedure as listed in this document, and your data will be shared with relevant staff and the Office of the Ombudsman, where necessary, and the processing of your data is carried out on the basis of receiving consent.  [Article 6(1)(a) of the General Data Protection Regulations, 2016].