Complaints and Feedback
Councils are just a collection of people trying to apply policies, procedures and actions as fairly and consistently as possible but we don't always get it right. If you have a comment or complaint, we want to hear from you as it is the best way for us to improve.
Feedback or Complaint?
If you just want to make us aware of something that we may not know about, it's better to submit feedback, whether it's positive or negative. The service area reviews these quickly and will respond where necessary. Each month, all feedback is reviewed by senior leader monthly to spot trends or issues that may affect more than one area.
Complaints go through a formal investigation so always take longer to respond to. We will usually contact you after submitting the complaint to clarify any points and understand the situation better from your point of view.
For service issues that just need to be resolved as quickly as possible (a missed bin, litter or fly tip for example), it is much quicker to use one of our "contact us" forms. These go straight to the right service area, so we can resolve your problem quickly and efficiently.
Will my complaint or feedback make a difference?
Yes. Dealing with complaints effectively isn't just essential to deliver good services, it is the only way to sustainably learn, adapt and improve. Just apologising or assessing a complaint deals with that complaint - our focus is to look for changes to prevent similar complaints from happening again.
Feedback is dealt with by the relevant department in few days, and then checked every month to spot trends or feedback that would benefit more than one area.
Is there anything I am unable to complain about?
If you want to appeal a decision made by the council, these are dealt with in a different way. These include decisions about planning applications, benefit applications and parking tickets. In these instances we will give you details on how to make your appeal.
Service issues, where something has gone wrong that simply needs to be put right are usually better and more swiftly dealt with via our General Enquiry forms.
This includes: noise complaints, potholes (Devon County Council), missed bins, reporting an environmental issue, appeal a planning decision, appeal a parking fine or fixed penalty notice,
How do I submit feedback or make a complaint?
Complaints are best submitted in your words and the best way is to complete the simple complaint form.
We deal with complaints fairly and in the same way regardless of how we receive it. A complaint submitted via a Councillor will not be prioritised over a customer submitting a complaint by phone, for example.
All complaints get entered onto our complaints system so doing it directly is the fastest way to get a response.
You can telephone us to log your complaint on:
Or you can write to us at:
South Hams District Council
South Hams District Council
Filling in a complaints form is the best way and quickest way to make sure all your points are recorded. You can upload a prepared document and evidence on the same form.
We will usually contact you to confirm our understanding of the complaint is the same as your description and seek any clarification to help us in dealing with it.
How do I make a complaint about a Councillor?
If you think that a Councillor or a Councillor belonging to a town or parish council in our area has not behaved as expected, you can make a Standards' complaint.
Standards complaints must be in writing and explain the part of the code that you think the Councillor has breached together with your reasons. You need only provide the essential facts at this stage. If your complaint proceeds to an investigation we will contact you for additional information.
Please read the Guidance Notes.
We can help you if you have a disability that prevents you from making your complaint or makes it difficult for you to submit your complaint in writing. We can also help if English is not your first language.
If you need any support in completing this form, please let us know as soon as possible. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about standards complaints and to see recent standards complaints decision notices please see our Standards - Complaints about Councillors page.
How do I submit a good complaint?
Our focus is on resolving your issues and also preventing similar from happening again. It is key for us to understand your viewpoint, experience and goal in submitting this complaint. Relevant details, dates, times, etc can be invaluable in assessing whether an issue is likely to affect someone else.
If your complaint covers more than one issue then bullet points or numbering your complaint allows us to respond to each point in turn. Suggestions to solve the issue or what you are expecting from the process helps us better understand your point of view.
What if I am still unhappy?
If you are not happy with the response to your complaint, you can ask for your complaint to be reviewed by another senior officer. The purpose of this second stage is to assess whether the first investigation properly considered all the relevant aspects of the complaint. It also considers it against set criteria to add an independent and objective review of our response.
We aim to give you a full written response within a further 30 consecutive days. If we need more time to investigate the complaint we will contact you to let you know.
If you are not happy with the review of your response, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will not normally look into your complaint if the Council has not had the opportunity to resolve it through the Council's own complaints process first.
The Ombudsman's Office has an advice team which accepts complaints by telephone, text, via their website and in writing.
Telephone: 0300 061 0614
Text: "callback" to 07624 803014
Post: The Local Government Ombudsman, PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH
You can read our full Complaint policy here.