Huge increase in complaints against Cheshire East Council

The number of complaints received by Cheshire East Council has risen by 58% in the past 12 months.

In 2013/4 the Council received 2231 complaints compared to 1411 in 2012/3.

Of these 46% were complaints about waste and recycling with 749 (22%) being specific complaints about the decision to shutdown the garden waste collection service for 4 months last winter.

After waste and recycling, the most frequent complaints received by the Council in 2013/14 were about highways operations (such as blocked gullies, potholes and lack of signage following a diversion), Council Tax and Development Management (planning issues such as lack of contact by the Case Officer, delays in processing applications and disagreements with decisions).

The number of highways complaints increased from 212 in 2012/3 to 291 in 2013/14, Council Tax complaints were down from 160 in 2012/13 to 155 in 2013/14 and Development Management complaints were up from 109 in 2012/13 to 129 in 2013/14. Adults Social Care received 107 complaints (down from 136 in the previous year) and Children’s Social Care received 80 (1 more than the previous year).

To provide complainants with an independent service they are all offered the opportunity to appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) if they are unhappy with the way in which the Council has handled their complaint.

In 2013/14 the LGO received 137 enquiries relating to Cheshire East, and closed 131 cases. Of these 131 closed cases, 56 were not directly referred back to the Council1, 37 cases were closed after the initial enquiry, 21 were not upheld and 17 (12%) were upheld.

Comparisons with other local authorities in the LGO Annual Report 2013/14 show that CEC is ranked 27th highest out of the 325 local authorities, with 137 enquiries made to the LGO in 2013/14. The number of complaints determined in 2013/14 averaged 3.5 per 10,000 population, compared with an average of 3.1 for all councils.

The highest number of enquiries related to Planning and Development – 38 (28%) – this is high compared to other councils whose average is 13%. Complaints relating to education & children’s services and environmental & public protection were also above the average for other councils. Whilst complaints about adult care services, benefits and corporate issues were below the average for other councils.

In addition 245 enquiries from MP’s were received by the Chief Executive’s Office between October and March 2014. Of these 108 were about highways and transportation, 68 were about planning and 20 were about waste and recycling.

The Council also received 1140 compliments in 2013/14 which is exactly the same number as in 2012/13 with the majority relating to adult services (60%) and customer services (11%).

Click here to view the Report on Customer Feedback which was prepared for a meeting of the Audit & Governance Committee on Thursday, 25th September.

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