Guidance on complaints about members
All Members of the Fire Authority have to comply with a Code of Conduct that details what is expected of them when they carry out their role as a Member of the Fire Authority.
This page explains how to make a complaint about a Member of the Fire Authority, if you think that they might have breached the Fire Authority’s Member Code of Conduct.
The Code of Conduct
You can view a copy of the Fire Authority’s Member Code of Conduct on this website or by contacting the Monitoring Officer, whose contact details are provided below.
Can I be confident that my complaint will be properly dealt with?
The law requires the Fire Authority to appoint an Independent Person: a person who has nothing to do with the Authority, other than in this role, who must to be consulted at various stages during the complaints process, and whose role is to ensure that all complaints are dealt with fairly.
Making a Complaint
Write to the Monitoring Officer:
Telford & Wrekin Council
PO Box 215
Telephone: (01952) 383200
Email: jonathan [dot] eatough [at] telford [dot] gov [dot] uk
The Monitoring Officer is an officer of the Fire Authority, who is responsible for administering this complaints system. There is an online form for you to use to complain. You do not need to use it but the information requested on the form will be required and it could delay the process, if you do not include all of this information.
What happens next?
The Monitoring Officer aims to acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 5 working days of receiving it.
The Monitoring Officer will review your complaint, discuss it with the Independent Person and write to you to inform you whether or not he/she has decided to refer it for investigation. Normally this will be within 14 working days of receiving your complaint. Sometimes the Monitoring Officer may refer your complaint for consideration by the Standards Committee, where, for example he/ she has previously advised on the matter or the complaint is particularly sensitive.
The Monitoring Officer might ask for more information, he/ she might also ask for information from the Member, about whom you are complaining, or the Council, of which they are a member.
The Monitoring Officer might seek to resolve the complaint informally, i.e. before deciding to refer your complaint for investigation. Obviously, your views are important here but, if the Monitoring Officer believes that the proposed solution is reasonable, for example acceptance that behaviour was unacceptable and an offered apology, this might affect the decision of the Monitoring Officer about whether or not the complaint merits formal investigation.
If referring for formal investigation, the Monitoring Officer will appoint an Investigating Officer, who will contact you and the Member about whom you have complained, and undertake any other such investigations as he/she considers appropriate for the purposes of the investigation. In exceptional cases your identity will be protected for some or all of the investigation. If you consider that it would be appropriate to do this in your case, you must let the Monitoring Officer know when you make your complaint. This would generally only be done where providing your details might prejudice the investigation.
The Investigating Officer will publish a draft report for consideration by you and the Member, about whom you have complained. Once any comments have been considered by the Investigating Officer a Final Report will be produced and sent to the Monitoring Officer. The Final Report will then be considered by the Monitoring Officer, who may either accept the report or ask the investigating Officer to re-consider his/her report.
Investigation finding of no breach
The Monitoring Officer will write to you and the Member, about whom you have complained, enclosing a copy of the Final Report and confirming that no further action is required.
Investigation finding of breach
The Monitoring Officer will write to you and the Member, about whom you have complained, enclosing a copy of the Final Report, and will either seek local resolution or will convene a hearing of the Fire Authority’s Standards Committee.
If, at any time before, during, or after, the investigation the Monitoring Officer, the Independent Person and you all agree a fair resolution of the complaint in a way that promotes high standards of conduct and the Member complies with the suggested resolution, then the Monitoring Officer will report the matter to the Standards Committee for information but will take no further action.
If local resolution is not possible then the Monitoring Officer will convene a meeting of the Fire Authority’s Standards Committee for it to consider the Investigating Officer’s Report and the views of the Independent Person on the allegation and to determine whether or not there has been a breach of the Fire Authority’s Code of Conduct and, if so, what action, if any, to take in respect of the Member.
The Hearing Procedure is detailed below but may be changed by the Chair of the Committee, if he considers that it is appropriate to do so:
Note: You might be asked by the Investigating Officer to attend and give evidence to the Standards Committee
- Notification of hearing date (Investigation Report already provided to the Member)
- Invitation to Member to submit list of further documents/ witnesses that he/she wishes to call
- Circulation of papers
- Chair explains the process to be followed
- Investigating Officer presents his/her report (and may ask witnesses to attend if necessary)
- Members of the Standards Committee may ask questions
- Member or his/ her representative may ask questions
- Member or his/ her representative responds to the Investigation Report (and may ask witnesses to attend if necessary)
- Members of the Standards Committee may ask questions
- The Investigating Officer may ask questions
- The Committee will retire to consider whether or not it considers that there has been a breach of the Fire Authority’s Code of Conduct
Decision – No breach
- The complaint is dismissed
Decision – Breach
- After offering the Member complained about, or his/ her representative an opportunity to speak, the Standards Committee will consider what action, if any, to take in respect of the Member
- There are no provisions in law to apply sanctions to the Member found to be in breach of the Code of Conduct, so any actions are aimed at securing the continuing ability of the Fire Authority to discharge its functions effectively and might include the following:
- Reporting its findings to the Fire Authority, considering a censure motion;
- Recommend to the Member’s Group Leader (or the Fire Authority, if they are not part of a Group) that he/she be removed from some or all Committees or Sub-Committees and/or outside appointments
- Recommending that the Member attend training; and/or
- Withdrawing facilities provided to the Member, including restricting access to premises, except as necessary to attend Fire Authority meetings