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Complaint against a Councillor guidance

This guidance is to assist you filling in the complaints form. If you wish to make a complaint against a Councillor please see our make a complaint about a Councillor page to ensure your complaint is valid.

The information you provide on the complaint form will be used to process your complaint.

We collect your personal data in order to progress your complaint, provide you with a response and contact you if required for further information. We will not use your personal information (your name, email, address or telephone number) for any other purposes.

The information regarding this complaint will be held electronically on a computer database and a hard copy held safely in a secure environment. It may be shared with other department(s) within West Northamptonshire Council and also with other bodies and persons where it is relevant and necessary to progress your complaint.

Your personal data will not be passed onto any other third party without your permission. It should be noted that the Councillor who is the subject of your complaint may share your information with a third party if they wish to seek further advice on how to respond to your complaint.

The information you provide on the form will be retained electronically for six years from closure of your complaint, after which period it will be deleted. All paper copies will be securely destroyed after your complaint is closed.

If at any point you believe the information we hold on you is incorrect you can request to see this information and have it corrected or deleted. If you wish to raise a complaint on how we have handled your personal data, you can contact our Data Protection Officer to have the matter investigated. If you are not satisfied with our response or believe we are not processing your personal data in accordance with the law you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

All Councillors have to comply with a Code of Conduct. The Code sets out rules about how Councillors should behave towards the public and also requires them to disclose any personal interests they have.

If you think a Councillor has broken the Code, you can make a complaint about a Councillor.

Guidance Notes

Making your complaint

Your complaint will be dealt with in accordance with the Council’s ‘Arrangements for dealing with allegations of breaches of the West Northamptonshire Council Members’ Code of Conduct and of Codes of Conduct adopted by Parish Councils’ (“the Arrangements”).

Our Monitoring Officer will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within ten working days of receiving it and will keep you informed of the progress of your complaint.

The Monitoring Officer is a senior officer of the Council who has statutory responsibility for maintaining the Members’ Register of Interests and who is responsible for administering the Council’s Arrangements in respect of complaints of alleged Councillor misconduct.

Initial Assessment of Your Complaint

The Monitoring Officer, who reviews all complaints received by the authority, will review your complaint and may consult with the Independent Person at this initial assessment stage. (We are required by law to appoint at least one Independent Person in connection with the Arrangements. In broad terms, the Independent Person is someone who is not (or has not recently been) an Officer of the Council or a Member or co-opted Member of the Council or of any Parish Council within the West Northamptonshire area. Certain classes of relatives and close friends of Members and Officers are also prevented by law from being an Independent Person.)

If your complaint does not fall within the scope or intent of the Arrangements, the Monitoring Officer may still decide to take informal action in order to resolve the matter. In assessing your complaint, the Monitoring Officer will determine whether the complaint is admissible and, if so, decide whether it

  • warrants investigation
  • may be suitable for alternative resolution without investigation
  • does not warrant any further action

For the complaint to be admissible it must be in a legible format and relate to an existing Member of the Council or existing Member of a Parish Council within West Northamptonshire.

In determining whether or not the complaint should be referred for investigation or to seek alternative resolution, the Monitoring Officer (and Independent Person if involved at this initial assessment stage) will have regard to a range of factors including the following:

  • Whether there is sufficient information upon which to base a decision
  • How serious is the alleged complaint?
  • Is the complaint politically motivated, vexatious or tit for tat?
  • Did the action complained about occur recently or not?
  • Do the allegations relate to actions occurring whilst the Councillor was acting in their official capacity or do they relate to their private life?
  • Whether the matter is considered suitable for alternative resolution and either the Councillor concerned or the complainant is not prepared to accept this as a solution.

The initial assessment of the complaint will normally be taken within twenty eight days of receipt of your complaint and you will be informed, in writing, of the outcome by the Monitoring Officer.

Unless exceptional circumstances exist that indicate otherwise, the Monitoring Officer will inform the Councillor concerned of the receipt and nature of the complaint and invite their comments.

Submitting your form and additional help

Complaints must be submitted in writing. This includes submissions by e-mail and submissions of the online form. However, we can make reasonable adjustments to assist you if you have a disability that prevents you from making 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 by contacting [email protected].

Last updated 04 January 2024