Make a complaint about a council service

You can give us feedback on any council service.

What is a complaint?

The first time you report something is not a complaint but a request.

For example, if a street light isn't working and you report it, this is not a complaint.

However, if you have told us about the street light, and are unhappy with the outcome, you could make a complaint.

To report something for the first time contact the council.

ANGUSalive complaints

For feedback relating to the culture, sport and leisure trust for the county visit the ANGUSalive website.

Making a complaint

Make a complaint about the service you have received from us:

Make a complaint about an Angus Council service

You can also make a complaint by:

  • calling our contact centre on 03452 777 778 
  • writing to us at Legal, Governance & Change, Angus House, Orchardbank, Forfar DD8 1AN
  • in person at one of our offices

Complaints procedure - a quick guide

We have a two-stage complaints procedure. We will always try to deal with your complaint quickly.  But if it is clear that the matter will need investigation, we will tell you and keep you updated on our progress.

If your complaint relates to a care service you can choose to complain to us or to the Care Inspectorate.

Stage one - frontline response

We will respond to your complaint as quickly as we can. This is usually within five working days.

Stage two - investigation

If you are dissatisfied with our response, you can ask us to consider your complaint at stage two.

You can do this using the make a complaint form.

We will:

  • acknowledge your request within three working days
  • confirm the points of complaint to be investigated and what you want to achieve
  • investigate the complaint and give you our decision as soon as possible.

This will take no more than 20 working days unless there is a good reason for needing more time.

If it is clear the complaint needs investigation, we will automatically take it to stage two.

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

If, after receiving our final decision on your complaint, you remain dissatisfied with our decision or the way we have handled your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to consider it.

There are some complaints that have an alternative route for independent review. We will tell you how to seek independent review when we give you our final response on your complaint.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standards of service provided by us or on our behalf.

What can I complain about?

You can complain about things like:

  • failure or refusal to provide a service
  • inadequate quality or standard of service, or an unreasonable delay in providing a service
  • dissatisfaction with one of our policies or its impact on the individual
  • failure to properly apply law, procedure or guidance when delivering services
  • failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
  • conduct, treatment by or attitude of a member of staff or contractor (except where there are arrangements in place for the contractor to handle the complaint themselves)
  • disagreement with a decision, (except where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision or an established appeals process followed through the sector).

Your complaint may involve more than one service or be about someone working on our behalf.

What can’t I complain about?

There are some things we can’t deal with through our complaints handling procedure.

These include:

  • a routine first time request for a service
  • a first time report of a fault (for example potholes or street lighting)
  • a request for compensation only
  • issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or a tribunal - if you decide to take legal action, you should let us know as the complaint cannot be considered under this process
  • disagreement with a decision where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision such as for freedom of information and subject access requests, or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector – such as council tax, planning, or a parking ticket appeal
  • a request for information under the Data Protection or Freedom of Information (Scotland) Acts
  • a grievance by a staff member or a grievance relating to employment or staff recruitment
  • a concern raised internally by a member of staff which was not about a service they received, such as whistleblowing concern
  • a concern about a child or an adult’s safety
  • an attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision
  • abuse or unsubstantiated allegations about our organisation or staff where such actions would be covered by our Unacceptable Actions Policy
  • a concern about the actions or service of a different organisation, where we have no involvement in the issue - except where the other organisation is delivering on our behalf

If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.

Who can complain?

Anyone who receives, requests or is directly affected by our services can make a complaint to us.

This includes the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service (for example, a relative, friend, advocate or adviser).

If you are making a complaint on someone else’s behalf, you will normally need written consent.

Please also read the section Getting help with your complaint. 

How do I complain?

You can complain in person at any of our offices, by phone, in writing, by email or by using our online form.  It is easier for us to address complaints if you make them quickly, so please talk to a member of our staff at the service you are complaining about. They can try to resolve the issue.

When complaining, please tell us:

  • your full name and contact details
  • as much as you can about the complaint
  • what has gone wrong, and what outcome you are seeking

How to contact us

  • use our online form 
  • call our contact centre on 03452 777 778 
  • Email:
  • write to us at Service Department, Angus House, Orchardbank, Forfar, Angus DD8 1AN

How long do I have to make a complaint?

Normally, you must make a complaint within six months of:

  • the event you want to complain about or  
  • finding out that you have a reason to complain

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit.

If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.

What happens when I have complained?

We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint.

Our complaints procedure has two stages.

Stage one: frontline response

We aim to respond to complaints quickly (where possible when you first tell us about the issue).

This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, or immediate action to resolve the problem.

We will give you our decision at stage one in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances,

If you are not satisfied with the response we give at this stage, we will tell you what you can do next. If you choose to, you can take your complaint to stage two.

You must normally ask us to consider your complaint at stage two either.

  • within six months of the event you want to complain about or finding out that you have a reason to complain or 
  • within two months of receiving your stage one response if this is later

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a stage two complaint after the time limit.

If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.

Stage two: Investigation

Stage two deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at stage one and those that clearly require investigation, and so are handled directly at this stage.

If you do not wish your complaint to be handled at stage one, you can ask us to handle it at stage two instead.

When using stage two:

  • We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days.
  • We will confirm our understanding of the complaint we will investigate and what outcome you are looking for. 
  • We will try to resolve your complaint where we can. In some cases, we may suggest using an alternative complaint resolution approach, such as mediation.
  • Where we cannot resolve your complaint, we will give you a full response as soon as possible, normally within 20 working days.
  • If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you. We will tell you our revised time limits and keep you updated on progress.

What if I’m still dissatisfied?

After we have given you our final decision, if you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it.

There are some complaints that have an alternative route for independent review.

We will tell you how to seek independent review when we give you our final response on your complaint.

The SPSO is an independent organisation that investigates complaints.

They are not an advocacy or support service (but there are other organisations who can help you with advocacy or support).

You can also ask the SPSO to look at your complaint if:

  • you have gone all the way through the council’s complaints handling procedure.
  • it is less than 12 months after you became aware of the matter you want to complain about, and
  • the matter has not been - and is not being - considered in court.

The SPSO will ask you to complete a complaint form and provide a copy of our final response to your complaint.

You can do this online via the SPSO website, or call them on Freephone 0800 377 7330.

You may wish to get independent support or advocacy to help you progress your complaint.

The SPSO’s contact details are: SPSO Bridgeside House 99 McDonald Road Edinburgh EH7 4NS. If you would like to visit in person, you must make an appointment first.

Their freepost address is: FREEPOST SPSO.

Online: Website: Care Complaints

If your complaint relates to a care service we provide, you can choose whether to complain to us or the Care Inspectorate.

You can find out more about their complains procedure, or make a complaint, by contacting them.

The Care Inspectorate has several offices around Scotland.

Getting help to make your complaint.

We understand that you may be unable or reluctant to make a complaint yourself. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.

You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance Tel: 0131 510 9410. You an find out about advisers in your area through Citizens Advice Scotland, or check for your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community. In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will also ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help you access and use our services.

If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing or want this information in another language or format, such as large font, or Braille, please tell us in person, contact our contact centre on 03452 777 778, or use our online enquiries form.

Angus Council believes that complainants have a right to be heard, understood and respected. We work hard to be open and accessible to everyone.

Occasionally, the behaviour or actions of individuals complaining makes it very difficult for us to deal with their complaint. In a small number of cases the actions of individuals become unacceptable because they involve abuse of our staff or our process.

When this happens we have to take action to protect our staff. We also consider the impact of the behaviour on our ability to do our work and provide a service to others.

This Policy explains how we will approach these situations.

What actions do Angus Council consider to be unacceptable?

People may act out of character in times of trouble or distress. There may have been upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a complaint coming to our office.

We do not view behaviour as unacceptable just because a complainant is forceful or determined. In fact, we accept that being persistent may sometimes be a positive advantage when pursuing a complaint.

However, we do consider actions that result in unreasonable demands on our office or unreasonable behaviour towards our staff to be unacceptable. It is these actions that we aim to manage under this Policy.

Aggressive or abusive behaviour

We understand that many complainants are angry about the issues they have raised in their complaint. If that anger escalates into aggression towards our staff, we consider that unacceptable. Any violence or abuse towards staff will not be accepted.

Violence is not restricted to acts of aggression that may result in physical harm. It also includes behaviour or language (whether verbal or written) that may cause staff to feel offended, afraid, threatened or abused. We will judge each situation individually and appreciate individuals who come to us may be upset. Language which is designed to insult or degrade, is racist, sexist or homophobic or which makes serious allegations that individuals have committed criminal, corrupt or perverse conduct without any evidence is unacceptable. We may decide that comments aimed not at us but at third parties are unacceptable because of the effect that listening or reading them may have on our staff.

Unreasonable demands

A demand becomes unacceptable when it starts to (or when complying with the demand would) impact substantially on the work of the office.

Examples of actions grouped under this heading include:

  • Repeatedly demanding responses within an unreasonable timescale
  • Insisting on seeing or speaking to a particular member of staff when that is not possible
  • Repeatedly changing the substance of a complaint or raising unrelated concerns

An example of such impact would be that the demand takes up an excessive amount of staff time and in so doing disadvantages other complainants and prevents their own complaint from being dealt with quickly.

Unreasonable levels of contact

Sometimes the volume and duration of contact made to our office by an individual causes problems. This can occur over a short period, for example, a number of calls in one day or one hour. It may occur over the life-span of a complaint when a complainant repeatedly makes long telephone calls to us or inundates us with copies of information that has been sent already or that is irrelevant to the complaint.

We consider that the level of contact has become unacceptable when the amount of time spent talking to a complainant on the telephone, or responding to, reviewing and filing emails or written correspondence impacts on our ability to deal with that complaint, or with other people’s complaints.

Unreasonable refusal to co-operate

When we are looking at a complaint, we will need to ask the individual who has complained to work with us. This can include agreeing with us on the complaint to be addressed; providing us with further information, evidence or comments on request; or helping us by summarising their concerns or completing a form for us.

Sometimes, an individual repeatedly refuses to cooperate and this makes it difficult for us to proceed. We will always seek to assist someone if they have a specific, genuine difficulty complying with a request. However, we consider it is unreasonable to bring a complaint to us and then not respond to reasonable requests.

Unreasonable use of the complaints process

Individuals with complaints about Angus Council's services have the right to pursue their concerns through a range of means. They also have the right to complain more than once about the organisation, if subsequent incidents occur.

This contact becomes unreasonable when the effect of the repeated complaints is to harass, or to prevent the organisation from pursuing a legitimate aim or implementing a legitimate decision. We consider access to a complaints system to be important and it will only be in exceptional circumstances that we would consider such repeated use is unacceptable – but we reserve the right to do so in such cases.

Examples of how we manage aggressive or abusive behaviour

The threat or use of physical violence, verbal abuse or harassment towards Angus Council staff is likely to result in a termination of all direct contact with the complainant. We may report incidents to the police. This will always be the case if physical violence is used or threatened.

Angus Council staff will end telephone calls if they consider the caller aggressive, abusive or offensive. Angus Council staff have the right to make this decision, to tell the caller that their behaviour is unacceptable and end the call if the behaviour persists.

We will not respond to correspondence (in any format) that contains statements that are abusive to staff or contains allegations that lack substantive evidence. Where we can, we will return the correspondence. We will explain why and say that we consider the language used to be offensive, unnecessary and unhelpful and ask the sender to stop using such language. We will state that we will not respond to their correspondence if the action or behaviour continues.

Examples of how we deal with other categories of unreasonable behaviour

We have to take action when unreasonable behaviour impairs the functioning of our office. We aim to do this in a way that allows a complaint to progress through our process.

We will try to ensure that any action we take is the minimum required to solve the problem, taking into account relevant personal circumstances including the seriousness of the complaint and the needs of the individual.

Actions we may take

Where a complainant repeatedly phones, visits the office, raises repeated issues, or sends large numbers of documents where their relevance isn’t clear, we may decide to:

  • limit contact to telephone calls from the complainant at set times on set days
  • restrict contact to a nominated member of Angus Council staff who will deal with future calls or correspondence from the complainant.
  • see the complainant by appointment only
  • restrict contact from the complainant to writing only
  • return any documents to the complainant or, in extreme cases, advise the complainant that further irrelevant documents will be destroyed
  • take any other action that we consider appropriate

Where we consider continued correspondence on a wide range of issues to be excessive, we may tell the complainant that only a certain number of issues will be considered in a given period and we ask them to limit or focus their requests accordingly.

In exceptional cases, we reserve the right to refuse to consider a complaint or future complaints from an individual. We will take into account the impact on the individual and also whether there would be a broader public interest in considering the complaint further.

We will always tell the complainant what action we are taking and why.

The process we follow to make decisions about unreasonable behaviour

Any member of Angus Council staff who directly experiences aggressive or abusive behaviour from a complainant has the authority to deal immediately with that behaviour in a manner they consider appropriate to the situation and in line with this Policy.

With the exception of such immediate decisions taken at the time of an incident, decisions to restrict contact with Angus Council are only taken after careful consideration of the situation by a more senior member of staff. Wherever possible, we will give a complainant the opportunity to change their behaviour or action before a decision is taken.

How we let people know we have made this decision

When an Angus Council employee makes an immediate decision in response to offensive, aggressive or abusive behaviour, the complainant is advised at the time of the incident. When a decision has been made by senior management, a complainant will always be given the reason in writing as to why a decision has been made to restrict future contact, the restricted contact arrangements and, if relevant, the length of time that these restrictions will be in place. This ensures that the complainant has a record of the decision.

The process for appealing a decision to restrict contact

It is important that a decision can be reconsidered. A complainant can appeal a decision to restrict contact. If they do this, we will only consider arguments that relate to the restriction and not to either the complaint made to us or to our decision to close a complaint.

An appeal could include, for example, a complainant saying that:

  • their actions were wrongly identified as unacceptable
  • the restrictions were disproportionate
  • or that they will adversely impact on the individual because of personal circumstances

A senior member of staff who was not involved in the original decision will consider the appeal. They have discretion to quash or vary the restriction as they think best. They will make their decision based on the evidence available to them. They must advise the complainant in writing that either the restricted contact arrangements still apply or a different course of action has been agreed.

We may review the restriction periodically or on further request after a period of time has passed. Each case is different. We will explain in the letter setting out the restriction what review process will be in place for that restriction and in what circumstances they could request this be reconsidered.

How we record and review a decision to restrict contact

We record all incidents of unacceptable actions by complainants. Where it is decided to restrict complainant contact, an entry noting this is made in the relevant file and on appropriate computer records. Each quarter a report on all restrictions will be presented to our Executive Management Team so that they can ensure the policy is being applied appropriately. A decision to restrict complainant contact as described above may be reconsidered either on request or on review