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Make a complaint against a district or parish councillor

Make a complaint

If you want to make a complaint about the conduct of an elected or co-opted member of South Lakeland District Council or a member of a town or parish council within South Lakeland, you should read and complete the below complaint form and submit it to monitoringofficer@southlakeland.gov.uk.

Complaint Form (DOC/64KB/7 pages)

Careful completion of this form will ensure that the Monitoring Officer has all the information needed to enable them to process your complaint.

Please note, the Monitoring Officer can only deal with complaints about the alleged behaviour and conduct of a member. They will not deal with complaints about the council as a whole, or any of the council’s departments or matters not covered by the code of conduct. These complaints are dealt with by a separate process.

Make a compliment, comment or complaint about the Council

The Code of Conduct for Members and Co-opted Members of South Lakeland District Council can be found in Part 5 of our constitution

The Monitoring Officer will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within five working days of receiving it, and will keep you informed of progress.

Procedure for dealing with complaints against individual members

The Monitoring Officer will review every complaint received and, after consultation with the Independent Person, take a decision as to whether it merits formal investigation, normally within ten working days of receipt of the complaint. The Monitoring Officer will then inform you of the decision and the reasons for that decision.

In certain cases where the Monitoring Officer feels that it would be inappropriate to make a decision on whether a complaint merits formal investigation, they may refer it to our Standards Committee.

If a complaint identifies criminal conduct or breach of other regulation by any person, the Monitoring Officer has the power to call in the Police and other regulatory agencies.

In appropriate cases, the Monitoring Officer may seek to resolve the complaint informally.

What happens next

If the Monitoring Officer decides that a complaint merits formal investigation, they will appoint an Investigating Officer. The Investigating Officer may need to meet or speak to you to enable them to better understand the nature of your complaint. The Investigating Officer will normally write to the member about whom you have complained and provide them with a copy of the complaint, requesting them to provide their explanation of events. In exceptional circumstances, where it is appropriate to keep your identity confidential or where disclosure of details of the complaint might prejudice the investigation, the Monitoring Officer may delete your name and address from the papers given to the member or delay notifying the member until the investigation has progressed sufficiently. At the end of the investigation, the Investigating Officer will produce a draft report, copies of which will be sent in confidence to both you and the member concerned for comment. Having received and taken into account any comments raised, the Investigating Officer will then send a final report to the Monitoring Officer. If the Monitoring Officer is not satisfied that the investigation has been conducted properly, they may ask the Investigating Officer to reconsider the report.

If the Investigating Officer concludes there is no evidence of a failure to comply with the Code of Conduct

The Monitoring Officer will review the Investigating Officer’s report and, after consultation with the Independent Person, if satisfied, will write to you and the member concerned (and the parish council where the complaint relates to a parish councillor), notifying that they are satisfied that no further action is required, also providing you both with a copy of the Investigating Officer’s final report.

If the Investigating Officer concludes there is evidence of a failure to comply with the Code of Conduct

The Monitoring Officer will review the Investigating Officer’s report and will then either send the matter for local hearing before a Hearings Panel of our Standards Committee or, after consulting the Independent Person, seek Local Resolution.

Local Resolution

In cases where the Monitoring Officer feels that the matter can reasonably be resolved without the need for a hearing, they will consult with the Independent Person and with you, as complainant, and seek to agree what you consider to be a fair resolution which also helps to ensure higher standards of conduct for the future. Such resolution may include the member accepting that their conduct was unacceptable and offering an apology, and/or other remedial action by the authority. If the member complies with the suggested resolution, the Monitoring Officer will report the matter to the Standards Committee and the relevant Parish Council for information, but will take no further action. However, if you tell the Monitoring Officer that any suggested resolution would not be adequate, the Monitoring Officer will refer the matter to a Hearings Panel of the Standards Committee.

Local Hearing

Should the Monitoring Officer consider that a local resolution is not appropriate or if you are not satisfied with a proposed local resolution, or if the member concerned is not prepared to undertake any proposed remedial action, then the Monitoring Officer will report the Investigating Officer’s report to a hearings panel of the Standards Committee which will conduct a local hearing before deciding whether the member has failed to comply with the code of conduct and, if so, whether to take any action in respect of the member.

We have an agreed procedure for local hearings about the personal conduct of council members. Hard copies are available on request. This information will be supplied to complainants where complaints reach this stage.

Sanctions available to the Standards Committee where a member has failed to comply with the code of conduct

The council has delegated to the Standards Committee such of its powers to take action in respect of individual members as may be necessary to promote and maintain high standards of conduct. The sanctions available are listed the complaints form above.

Appeals

There is no right of appeal for you, as complainant, or for the member against a decision of the Monitoring Officer or of the hearings panel. If you feel that the authority has failed to deal with your complaint properly, you may make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.