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Friday, 22 May 2015

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Barrow Borough Council issues eight apologies since 2011

WATER leaking into a property from council land, comments made by an officer and a racism claim were among the complaints filed against Barrow Borough Council over the past three years.

An Evening Mail Freedom of Information request revealed the council received 92 formal complaints between 2011/12 and 2013/14. Only 15 were upheld and disciplinary action was taken only once – when an apology was issued following comments from a housing officer in 2011/12. Eight apologies have been issued since 2011.

A racism claim was made against the planning department in 2013/14, but was not upheld. The complainant claimed there were “too many restrictions placed on their business”. In 2011/12, a council tenant received £200 in compensation after an errant “do not use” sticker was left on their boiler over the winter, forcing them to spend £200 on alternative heating.

In 2012/13, a complaint against the planning department was upheld after water from council-owned land leaked into a private property, prompting the council to fit a drain below the grass verge.

Numerous complaints were minor, such as “repeated requests for replacement recycling bags, but to no avail”. The complaint was upheld and the council supplied the bags.

Jeff Bright, the council’s deputy executive director, said the number of complaints was low and not a cause for concern. He said: “When you consider the number of transactions we have with people across all departments, it is not high.

“It’s very rare we have to pay compensation. In terms of what’s called ‘maladministration’ there are very few – they are the serious matters we would be really worried about and we don’t really get them.

“I mentioned at executive committee recently that we have about 20 complaints a year – they are service failures, but there are reasons for them. My point is, only when we hear the complaint do we know what the service gap is, and we act on the complaint to improve the service.”

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