Agenda item

Unreasonably Persistent Complaints and Customer Behaviour and Vexatious Requests (Agenda item 9)

Report of the Executive Manager for Governance.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Governance presented the report which asked Members to consider the draft Policy for dealing with unreasonably persistent complaints and customer behaviour and vexatious requests.

 

This was a new Policy for the Council.

 

The Legal Services Manager explained that the Policy applied to both Elected Members and staff.  A flow chart would be prepared to support the Policy if approved.

 

Councillor Jermy was pleased with the report and asked if the flow chart had been prepared.  The Legal Services Manager handed out a draft flow chart for Members to look at.  He drew Members’ attention to section 4(e) of the Policy (appeals against decisions) and queried the job titles listed.  Members were informed that the job titles would be amended accordingly.

 

In response to a suggestion by Councillor Jermy, it was proposed and seconded that such issues be reported to the Commission on an annual basis.

 

Councillor Brame congratulated the Officer concerned on how the Policy had been written and would be taking it to his Parish Council as all had to deal with similar problems.

 

The Chairman agreed and asked for the Policy to be emailed to all Parish Councils.

 

Councillor Nairn felt that ‘trolls’ on social media should be addressed.  Members were informed that the wording could be amended to include reference to social media. 

 

Councillor Dimoglou declared an interest in this item as he had been a victim of a vexatious complaint and felt that the Policy was too complex and was weighted far too much against the vexatious complainant.  He pointed out that the Council’s current Policy required him to have contact with the person and he felt that this part should be removed. The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Strategy, Governance & Transformation explained that the Council had to have a proper process in place to encompass all issues moving forward.  The Chairman pointed out that this was an overarching Policy to protect the Council and the public.

 

The Executive Member for Growth suggested that this Policy be included on the agenda at the next Town & Parish Council Forum.

 

The Legal Services Manager responded to many questions in relation to freedom of information requests, legislation, civil matters and injunctions and it was noted that Freedom of Information had time constraints and if not responded to within the statutory time frame, the matter could be referred to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

 

Members discussed the draft flow chart and the Executive Member for People & Information felt that there should be another arrow pointing back from the appeal to the decision.

 

Councillor Jermy asked if Standards and this Policy were two different areas.  Members were informed that there was a paragraph included within the Standards Policy in relation to vexatious complaints.

 

RECOMMEND to Cabinet that the proposed Policy at Appendix A of the report be approved subject to the inclusion of the aforementioned amendments; and it was:

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)    such complaints, vexatious requests etc be reported to the Overview & Scrutiny Commission on an annual basis; and

 

2)    the Policy, once amended, be included on the Agenda at the next Town & Parish Council Forum.

 

 

Supporting documents: