Compliments and Complaints

We have made an unswerving commitment to customer service at Lewes District Council.

We want to provide good customer care and high quality services to residents and businesses in the District. We believe we get things right most of the time but recognise that sometimes things go wrong or we fail to meet your expectations. 

If you are unhappy with a service you have received we would like you to tell us.  We can then look into your complaint, explain what has happened and, where necessary, put things right.

Our complaints procedure tells you how to make a complaint and how we will deal with it.

We define a complaint under this procedure as “an expression of dissatisfaction about our services or the services provided by one of our contractors”.

How to make a complaint

You (or someone acting on your behalf) can make a complaint by telephone, email, fax, letter, in person or via our website.

Our complaints procedure

Step 1

Contact the Council department that provided the service and tell them what has happened, why you are unhappy and what you would like the Council to do about it. The department will look into your complaint and try to resolve it with you. We will aim to resolve your complaint as soon as possible.

Step 2

If you are not satisfied with the response you get you have 10 working days to tell us that you would like your case to be reviewed by a more senior manager. He or she will investigate your case and will aim to let you know their determination within 20 working days. If he/she needs longer to consider your case they will let you know when you can expect a decision.

Step 3

If the Council has not been able to resolve your complaint, you have the right to ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate. The Ombudsman can decide not to look into a complaint until the Council has had a chance to consider it first.

If you would like to make a complaint, please use this form.

Complaints about planning matters

Our complaints procedure is not an appeals system for revisiting and reviewing planning decisions made by the Council. It is there for complaints about how we have handled planning applications and whether we have failed to provide the customer service you expect, or not properly complied with our normal planning processes and procedures.

If your complaint is about the way a planning decision was made (and you are not the planning applicant or agent), the Head of Development Management (or, if appropriate, the Director of Planning and Environmental Services) will investigate the matter and decide, in consultation with a nominated elected councillor, if your complaint needs to be dealt with as a formal complaint under this procedure or not. He will write and tell you the Council’s decision within 10 working days.

If your complaint does not fall under the Council’s procedure the Council will not take the matter any further but you will still be able to ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate (see Step 3 above).

If your complaint is found to be a justified complaint, the Head of Development Management (or, if appropriate, the Director of Planning and Environmental Services), in consultation with a nominated elected councillor, will advise you of the findings, any action to be taken and any appropriate remedy.

Other Disputes

Not all complaints or disputes are handled through our complaints procedure. For example, where legal proceedings are involved or there is a separate right of appeal or other legal review mechanism such as in planning decisions, determinations of housing benefit or decisions about the amount of council tax to be paid.

The complaints procedure will not normally be used for complaints about a decision of the Council or one of its committees which have been made lawfully and in accordance with our normal policies and procedures. In such cases, individuals have the right to ask the Scrutiny Committee to investigate. 

Claims for compensation will be referred to our insurers.

We will:

  • Make it easy for customers to make a complaint
  • Give you a prompt response
  • Resolve your complaint as quickly as possible
  • Keep you informed of progress if we need more than 20 days to respond to your complaint
  • Put you in touch with your local councillor if you would like their help
  • Apologise if we have made a mistake and offer you an appropriate remedy
  • Not normally respond to anonymous complaints

Complaints about the Council as a landlord

If your complaint is about the way the Council has dealt with you as a tenant, and at the end of our complaints process you feel the matter has not been resolved, you can ask for your complaint to be considered by a ‘designated person’ (namely an MP, local councillor or recognised Tenant Panel). Either you or the designated person has the right to refer the matter to the Housing Ombudsman. If you decide to refer the matter to the Housing Ombudsman direct you will need to wait 8 weeks from the date of our internal determination letter.

Meeting our responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010

We take complaints about equal opportunities, discrimination or harassment very seriously. Such complaints will be investigated by the Head of Department in the first instance.

We will not discriminate against anyone who uses our complaints procedure and want it to be open and accessible to all.

If you think you might need further information or support, we will signpost you to other organisations that may be able to provide help, advice or support you to make your complaint. Such organisations include NCDA (Newhaven Community Development Association) - Sompriti Bilingual Support and Advocacy Service, the East Sussex Translation Service, the East Sussex Disability Association or the Hate Crime Manager at Victim Support South East.

We may ask you to provide information about yourself which will help us to monitor our procedures and make sure we are meeting our obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Any personal data we collect will be kept in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and will only be used for statistical monitoring purposes.