Complain about another service

Submit a complaint online about council services and see how complaints are dealt with.

View the complaints procedure for adult social care here and the children's social care complaints procedure here.

If you would like to complain about a Trading Standards matter (for example, about a trader, product or to report a scam) you need to refer this to the Citizens Advice service, who deal with these. They will pass on details of any enforcement issues to us.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received or feel that you have been unfairly treated, please tell us and we will try to sort out the problem.

How to complain

The corporate complaints procedure has two stages. In the first instance you should direct your complaint to the service you want to complain about. Staff will work to ensure complaints are responded to quickly and resolved at this stage wherever possible.

When you contact us we will need to know what has happened, how it has affected you and what you think should be done to put things right.

Make a complaint online

You can  download our corporate complaints information here (pdf / 378 KB) (for services not including social care or code of conduct complaints against councillors).

Once your complaint has been submitted

If we cannot respond straight away we will acknowledge your complaint within five working days. A full response will be made within 15 working days (20 working days if a third party has carried out the work). If it will take longer we will contact you to explain why and keep you informed.

If you are not satisfied with the response you have received you can contact us to escalate your complaint through the two stages. However, if we feel that your complaint has been considered fully at an early stage and it would not be of benefit to either party to pursue internally, we will instead refer you to the local government ombudsman.

You are free to contact the local government ombudsman yourself for advice at any point, though they will usually expect you to have allowed the Council the opportunity to have dealt with your complaint before they will investigate it.

Further information

Anyone who uses our services, or is in contact with us can make a complaint. Making a complaint will not affect your right to receive our services.

If you would like a relative, friend or advocate to make a complaint on your behalf we will need your agreement and consent to share information with them. Or, you can ask someone to support you to make the complaint yourself.

The corporate procedure covers all services provided by North Yorkshire County Council except adult social care and children's social care.

A complaint can be about anything relating to these services, or any contact you have had with the Council, such as:

  • We delayed providing a service;
  • We failed or refused to provide a service;
  • We provided a poor quality service or make a mistake;
  • We provided an inappropriate service;
  • We charged an inappropriate cost for a service;
  • An employee's behaviour has caused upset;
  • We applied eligibility or assessment criteria incorrectly;
  • We have unfairly discriminated against you;
  • You disagree with a decision we have made; or
  • You are unable to access a service.

Complaints dealt with in different ways

Some issues are dealt with in different ways, for instance where an appeals process or other relevant procedure exists. Some examples would be school admissions, management of schools, reporting faults (highways, street lights and so on), insurance claims and where legal action would be the appropriate course of action.

  • Complain about adult social care
  • Complain about children's social care
  • Councillors - code of conduct
  • Request for a service or provision of information;
  • Reporting highways faults (for example pot holes or faulty street lights). See the roads, highways and pavements section for details on the various types of highway faults and report online;
  • Schools - managed locally by the head teacher and board of governors. Please contact the school for a copy of their complaints procedure;
  • School exclusions - the governing body of the school has the role of reviewing the head teacher's decision to exclude. Information is available from your school or the advisory centre for education who can be contacted on 020 7704 9822;
  • School admissions
  • Home to school transport
  • Issues known about for more than 12 months;
  • Where an existing appeal or right of objection exists, for example appeals or consultation exercises;
  • Employment / internal staffing issues;
  • Insurance claims;
  • Fraud investigation - we consider any allegations of fraud or loss to be very serious and will investigate them as a matter of urgency. To raise any concerns you may have, please contact the internal audit service;
  • Where legal action is the appropriate course of action;
  • District council services, for example the collection of waste. housing, environmental health, collection of council tax, elections and electoral registration, council car parks, leisure, markets, planning applications and street cleaning.

Stage one

As a first step you should take your complaint to the office or person who dealt with your enquiry, or who deal with the service you want to complain about. Our staff will do their best to resolve your complaint without you having to do anything else.

  • If we cannot respond immediately, we will send an acknowledgement within five working days;
  • We will respond to you within 15 working days (20 working days if a third party has carried out the work), or if we are unable to do so will explain why; and
  • If we have made a mistake we will take action to put things right.

Stage two

If the person dealing with your complaint has not been able to put things right, or you are not happy with the way they dealt with your complaint, you can ask for a formal investigation by a nominated person.

  • Your request will be acknowledged within five working days. An officer independent from the service you are complaining about will carry out an investigation. This will be done within 30 working days, but where a case is more complex and will take longer we will keep you informed of timescale.
  • If we are confident that we have followed policy, procedure and legislation and that you have not been unfairly disadvantaged, we will not progress your complaint to stage two and will instead refer you to the local government ombudsman.

There is a 12 month time limit for making a complaint.

You should make us aware of your complaint within 12 months of the incident happening or from when you realised you had cause for complaint within 12 months of the issue occurring or when you realised you had cause to complain. The time limit may be extended at the discretion of the complaints manager if there is a reason for the delay.

You can make an anonymous complaint but we would rather talk to you directly about your concerns. If you do not provide contact details we won't be able to let you know what has happened with your complaint. We will still ask a relevant manager to look into the issues raised.

All staff in customer-facing roles must speak fluent English. This includes the ability to speak with confidence and accuracy, using appropriate sentence structures and vocabulary, and understanding customer needs and responding clearly.

If all or part of your complaint relates to this, that aspect will be considered under the council's English fluency duty complaints procedure. This is a two-part procedure which includes assessment of the member of staff concerned.

As part of this process details of your complaint will be passed to the member of staff concerned so that they have an opportunity to respond to the issues raised.

If only part of your complaint relates to English fluency this will be investigated under this procedure while the rest of your complaint will be investigated under the normal appropriate procedure. You will be informed of how this will work.

Complaints will not be considered under this procedure if the complaint is about:

  • Spoken English fluency for a member of staff who is not required to speak to members of the public in English as a regular and intrinsic part of their role;
  • A member of staff's accent, dialect, manner or tone of communication, origin or nationality;
  • Workers employed directly by a private or voluntary provider of council services; or
  • Any complaints regarded as vexatious, oppressive, threatening or abusive.

If your complaint does not fall within the scope of this procedure it may still be considered under one of the Council's other complaints procedures.

The local government ombudsman looks at complaints about councils and some other authorities and organisations, including education admissions appeal panels and adult social care providers (such as care homes and home care providers). It is a free service.

They aim to provide independent investigation to individuals for injustice caused by unfair treatment or service failure by local authorities. If fault is found they will make recommendations about how we should put things right.

They will expect you to have taken your complaint through the Council's complaints procedures first.

For more information please visit the local government ombudsman website.

You can also make a complaint in person, by phone or in writing by post.

You can write to:

Corporate Complaints Team
Chief Executive’s Office
North Yorkshire County Council
County Hall
North Yorkshire

Or call a complaints coordinator:

Service Areas covered Telephone
Business and environmental services
  • roads
  • highways
  • waste disposal (not collection)
  • trading standards
  • street lighting
  • public rights of way
  • archeology
  • heritage
01609 532776
Central services
  • councillors
  • registration services
  • archives
  • library and information centres
  • invoicing and payments
01609 532272
Children and young people’s service
  • education
  • support to children and young people
  • children’s social care
01609 534193
Health and adult services
  • adult social care
  • older people
  • people with disabilities
  • support to vulnerable people
  • public health
01609 535875

We understand that making a complaint can be a very emotional process and we will do all that we can to help you through the procedure. However, we will not tolerate unreasonable behaviour from those making a complaint. Such behaviour may include (written, verbal or in person):

  • Offensive sexual or racial remarks or offensive remarks about a person's disability;
  • Inappropriate personal remarks;
  • Unwanted physical contact or assault;
  • Intimidation;
  • Threats;
  • Excessive swearing, foul or abusive language;
  • Unreasonable persistence, for example contacting the Council many times about the same issue - see our  policy on unreasonably persistent complainants (pdf / 40 KB).

We will tell you if we think your behaviour is unacceptable. If the behaviour continues we may limit the way you can contact us, for example only in writing.

In the course of dealing with your complaint you may be asked questions about equalities information. This will include things like your gender, age, ethnic background and whether you have a disability.

This information will not be passed to the person dealing with your complaint and will not affect how your case is handled (although the information is attached to your case, the case handler cannot see it). We will use this information anonymously and it will help us to ensure that all sections of the community can access the complaints procedures and are not disadvantaged in any way. It will also be used across the Council to help us build a picture of who our customers are and how we can best provide our services to cater for their needs.

We use the information gained from complaints to inform service improvements. Directorates receive regular reports detailing the complaints they have received, outcomes, timescales and so on. A quarterly corporate report is brought to the Council's management board, executive and standards committee.

These are our top tips on making an effective complaint.

Don't delay

The sooner you raise a concern with us the better. We may be able to solve the problem quickly with little impact on you. If a full investigation is required access to information and the people involved will be much easier, meaning that the investigation will be much more effective.

Make checks

Make sure you are complaining to the right organisation and that complaints is the right procedure to follow.

Provide all the relevant information

To carry out a thorough and effective investigation, we need to know as much as possible about the situation, though only information that is relevant to the case. Please let us know:

  • Which service is involved;
  • The names of the people involved;
  • What has happened;
  • When it happened;
  • Where it happened;
  • How it has affected you;
  • What you would like us to do to put it right;
  • Your contact details;
  • If you have contacted us about this before - who you contacted, when, if you got a response etc.

Be clear and brief

Cover all the relevant points, but please be as brief as you can - lengthy documents can slow down the process. Use numbered lists and headings to highlight the important issues and only tell us what is actually relevant to your case. If we think we need more information to consider your complaint fully we will contact you to let you know.

Provide evidence if relevant

If you have documents that may help us look into the matter, please send them to us. You can send a scanned copy by email if you prefer and if you want us to return hard copy documents we will do so - please let us know when you send them in. If you do send us items through the post please make sure you keep a copy.

If it is a complex issue put it in writing

It is helpful if you could put your complaint in writing to us, particularly if it is a complex matter. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, you could ask a relative, friend, advocate or an organisation like Citizen's Advice to help you.

You may wish to include audio or video recordings as part of the evidence to support your complaint. If you do, you need to provide a copy of the full recording, not just parts of it and it must not be altered in any way. This will ensure that the full context of the conversation can be considered. 

If you provide only part of a recording we might not accept it as part of evidence towards a complaints investigation.

All recordings should be of good quality. If they are not clear enough to understand we will not consider them as evidence.

Recordings will be shared with any council officers (or anyone providing a service on behalf of the council) that took part in the conversation for them to verify that it is a true and full recording.

We will not pass on any recordings which you provide us with to third parties unless there is an overriding legal obligation for us to do so, for example for crime prevention or detection.