Confusion over council complaints rate leads committee chair to call for ‘true position’

29 July meeting of Islington’s audit committee. Photograph: Islington Citizen.

Figures initially presented by council officers as a “good news story” of apparently low complaints rates for the Town Hall quickly devolved into confusion over their accuracy at an audit committee meeting.

Councillors were presented with evidence suggesting the Town Hall had received 15 complaints between January and June of this year, which appeared to bear positive comparison to 126 complaints for the previous financial year.

However, it subsequently became apparent that this low figure was based only on complaints which had been considered by the Local Government Ombudsman, rather than those actually received, despite officers stating that they had been in touch with the Town Hall’s complaints unit in the compiling of the figures.

Committee chair Cllr Nick Wayne (Lab, Canonbury) said: “I think it would be helpful for future reference that when compiling a report of this nature, that we have the full picture about the complaints that are coming through.

“At the moment, I’m a little bit confused about exactly what the position is, and whilst I’d be delighted if [this] was the accurate and true position, the longer this conversation has gone on, the more I suspect that it isn’t.

“The next time this matter comes before the committee, I really think there needs to be that triangulation between what we’re getting from the Ombudsman’s website with our complaints team and a proper breakdown there, because I don’t really think this does that.”