Complaints to local councils are a fact of life, compliments probably less so. But now citizens in Dundee are being given a special space for passing on their regards about positive services.
A compliments section will be a part of the city council’s website complaints procedure in future, meaning those who wish to congratulate the local authority on a “job well done” will be able to do so.
The news comes as new figures were released, detailing the number of complaints received since the start of the financial year, April 1, to the end of September.
Dundee City Council received 374 complaints in the six-month period, 36% of which were attributed to education and the environment services.
For the first half of the financial year 2017/18, the council said it “closed” a total of 293 complaints, 64% (187) of which were dealt with within five working days of them being submitted.
As part of its handling procedure, the authority aims to resolve as many issues as it can at the first stage of the complaint, which means fewer go on to the second phase, or the “investigation” stage.
Local authority staff are currently receiving a programme of training, according to the council, which they say will “reinforce the importance of dealing promptly with complaints, keep complainants informed and give clear explanations of decisions”.
City development convener Councillor Lynne Short said the ability to compile compliments received from the public would be good news for staff, who sometimes have the “disheartening” job of receiving constant negative feedback.
She said: “I think we should be more rewarding of the praise the council receives.
“Lots of people do say thank you for services they receive and having this function would allow people to say thanks for the hard work.
“The vast majority of council staff do not make decisions on things like policy or the budget, but they are the ones on the front line who often receive the brunt of the negative feedback.”
Seventeen people made more than one complaint between April and October, 15 of them making two complaints each and the remaining two making three each – a total of 36.
The highest proportion of complaints received were in regard to the attitude of members of staff, or the way the complainant had been treated.
Of each council department, neighbourhood services – whose remit includes areas like housing and recycling – received 159 complaints. Ninety-five of these were related to “environment” services.
Since the introduction of an equalities complaints procedure, the council has recorded one case, which related to a disability issue.